How many of you have given up on your dream of seeing a visa stamped on your passport, or never even considered owning one only because it involves a lot of investment? What if I told you that this dream wont really cost you that much? To add further, this place is no less than a paradise. I did this trip in 40k Indian rupees(IR). But I will tell you how you can do this trip for less than 33k IR. But before that allow me give you a glimpse of the returns you will get on your valuable investment of 33k IR.
Nestled above the seven sisters of India, is this place by the name Druk Yul aka Bhutan. And although Bhutan occupies a tiny share in the world with an area of just 38,394 square kilometers, it is also known as the Land of Thunder Dragons. Bhutan’s weather is most often embellished with rains and thunderbolts. These thunder bolts are believed to be the red fire of a dragon and so the name followed. Just as every place is unique in its own ways, Bhutan too has its own set of traits that distinguishes it from the rest of the world.
HOW TO ENTER THIS DRAGON KINGDOM
There are couple of ways you can plan to enter this kingdom if you are travelling from India. One is through direct flights to Paro, the only town in Bhutan that houses an international airport. The only catch being, these flights depart only from the states of Delhi and Kolkata in India and they are expensive. You can also enter Bhutan by roads. All you need to do is arrive at Bagdogra, a town in West Bengal. And travel by roads from Bagdogra to enter Bhutan. Another crucial point to be noted is that all international travelers have to obtain a visa to enter Bhutan except the citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives due to great mutual relations. Though the citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives are exempt from obtaining a visa to enter Bhutan, a passport is a quintessential during their stay in this place. Me and my fellow group travelers chose to travel by road. And hence we flew to Bagdogra, which costed us Rs. 7,500/- one way. Post which we had one of the best and initial road trips to Bhutan. The roads leading to Bhutan were flanked by mesmerizing green trails. Those green trails coupled with the shenanigans of my fellow travelers made this 5 hour journey one of the most memorable road trips. We entered Bhutan through Phuentsholing, a town in Southern Bhutan.
HOW BHUTAN WILL NEVER FAIL TO MARVEL YOU
This land of dragons will redefine the term “Hospitality” to you. The one constant that this group of 16 witnessed throughout the trip was the incredulous hospitality that they received no matter which place they visited. And one very peculiar thing that this group noticed is that
taking their hospitality a notch higher with their warmth, very hard working and graceful conduct. Those ladies take pride in what they do and don’t want your pity. The least you could and you should offer is a well deserved and generous tip for their hard work.
Bhutan offers a multitude of eye popping and soul satisfying places. Be ready to carry a power bank to recharge the batteries of your camera / camera phones because your equipment are going to be on an overdrive. This place takes great pride in showcasing its culture and has left no meat on the bone to preserve its heritage. Following is the list of places one can choose to visit while visiting this beautiful country:
- Bhutan houses a plethora of Dzongs that’s usually a place of worship or administrative centers. Some of these Dzongs are situated across a beautiful stream of river. The most popular one goes by the name PUNAKHA DZONG. It’s also called as the palace of great happiness or bliss. Check out the pictures to know why..
- Did you know that Bhutan has a Dzong perched on top of a cliff? Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche who is accorded with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan flew to this cliff in one of his eight manifestations, on the back of a tigress, during his pursuit to subdue the local demon, Singye Samdrup. After that he meditated in a cave for 3 months. A monastery was built thereafter near the cave where the Guru meditated. This place was later popularly known as the TIGER’S NEST. The Dzongs also known as TAKTSANG DZONG. However, it’s not an easy trip to reach this Dzong. It’s a trek in itself and quite an onerous one. For trek lovers, this may be an easy trek, however for first time trekkers, you may want to start this trek early in order to complete it before sun set. Why should you trek? To witness this beauty
- Ever had the chance to walk over a bridge that’s approximately more than half a kilometer long and that’s suspended in thin air over cable lines that’s fixed between two points? If you haven’t, then please don’t fail to visit the PUNAKHA SUSPENSION BRIDGE. For thrill seekers, this bridge sways a bit while you walk over it as it’s very windy around and is way above the ground to send chills to people who have a phobia for heights. However, know that this bridge is strong enough to be designated as an architectural marvel. It connects the villages of Shengana, Samdingkha and Wangkha to the Palace of the Wangchuk Kings.
- For all the Buddhist devotees, you may want to add this place in your itinerary….GREAT BUDDHA DORDENMA. It’s not every day that you will come across a 169 foot Shakyamuni Buddha statue built over a mountain. This statue is made of bronze and laden in gold. And just in case this fails to humble you, know that there are 100,000 8-inch tall and 25,000 12-inch tall gilded bronze Buddhas around it. Constructed at a staggering US$ 100million, this statue fulfills the prophecy of Yogi Sonam Zangpo that a large Buddha statue will be built in the region to bestow blessing, peace and happiness on the whole world.
- And last but not the least, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by at the DOCHULA PASS and relish some very ethereal 360º panoramic view of the Himalayas. Located at an elevation of more 3000 metres, the temperatures here drop below 0º during winters. This site also houses 108 memorial stupas that’s an architectural delight.
- Like any tourist destination, Bhutan too has a peculiar cuisine. It revolves mostly around 3 ingredients viz. potato, cheese and CHILIES. Chilies occupy a very significant place in Bhutanese culinary. Most of their dishes are piping hot. Don’t be surprised if you find Bhutanese people offering chilies as a separate dish itself – just chilies! (very dragon like I know!) However, if you are not too big on chilies, please do not worry! Almost every Bhutanese hotels offer Indian and Chinese dishes too, just in case you want something to fall back upon. For all wine lovers, please ensure to taste and take home Bhutanese local delicacy .. ZUMZIN, a peach flavored white wine.
IS BHUTAN REALLY EXPENSIVE?
I am sure you would agree after looking at the pictures that this trip is really worth more than 40k IR which I shelled. More than a third of my travel expense came from spending 15k Indian Rupees (IR) for flight trips to Bagdogra. Apart from this, my total travelling expense towards accommodation and food totaled to 25k IR for a total of 7 days stay. I was able to bargain a better deal on my hotel stays as I travelled with a group of 16 people. The hotels we chose were 3 star hotels. To be frank, their 3 star hotels had all the basic amenities we wished for. Absolutely zero complaints with the services we received. On the hygiene and cleanliness front too, they didn’t fail to surprise us.
In case you are travelling from India and 40k IR seems too costly, I have a quick fix for that too. You can choose to travel through trains to reach Bagdogra. That will cost you half the airplane tickets considering you take a train from Mumbai. So your total travel should be done within maximum 33k IR. But my title reads doing this trip in less than 33k IR. You can achieve that by choosing to stay in dormitories rather than a hotel. That should cut your costs significantly. Hopefully I was able to justify the time you have invested in reading this blog… Thank you