BAGDOGRA TO BHUTAN
Members: Selvam Sridharan, Pradesh Raj
Bike: Royal enfield 500cc
Note: Bhutan was the first international bike riding trip, very exciting to cross India border was a thrill, paper work to cross border. After entering the border it was entirely a different feeling riding in a other country.
Royal Enfield motorcycle to the Kingdom of Bhutan
The land of the Thunder Dragon ...Nestled in the Himalayan range between Nepal and India, the Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country that's big on nature. The Bhutanese fiercely protect the natural beauty and ancient culture of their country - an attitude reflected in how they limit the number of tourists to their country. Fortunately, this uncompromising attitude and the extremely friendly nature of the Bhutanese, made the ride to Bhutan an unforgettable experience.
Bhutan is a veritable paradise for motorcyclists. The mountain roads offer ample of adventure. The landscape, the locals, and the architecture enrich a travel experience that has few parallels in the world. A motorcycle ride to Bhutan full fills all the basic reasons why one travels.
This 13 day Bhutan tour on the Himalayan ranges, on the new dual sports motorcycle from Royal Enfield is designed for such an experience that you spend most of your time exploring the best the country has to offer. Apart from the riding, this tour includes a trek to the famous "Tiger's Nest" monastery. But planning a ride to Bhutan is not an easy task by any means due to its strict tourism policy and the limited number of hotels. This is where we step in with our experience so you can call your motorbike ride to Bhutan as the “Ride of My Life”.
For Indian Nationals:
You will need to have the following documents for the immigration formalities at the Bhutan border.
1. Valid Indian Passport (original + 5 photocopies)
2. Valid Indian motorcycle driving license (original + 5 photocopies)
3. 5 passport-size photographs
For Foreign Nationals:
1. Valid Passport (original + 5 photocopies)
2. Valid motorcycle driving license (original + 5 photocopies)
3. Multiple entry Indian visa (you will be re-entering India towards the end of the tour)
4. 5 passport-size photographs
Day 01: Arrival in Siliguri
On our arrivalat the designated hotel at Siliguri, we headed out for a short ride to test the motorcycles that we would be riding for the rest of the tour. The test drive is just to ensure that we get a feel of the purpose of the trip! While the mechanic makes final adjustments according to your riding style, the road captain briefed us about the entire ride.
Day 02: Siliguri to Phuntsholing
We kick-started the Bhutan tour on a smooth National Highway that passes through paddy and tea plantations. After a road trip of 150 kms, it is Kuzuzampola Bhutan! While just a gate separates Bhutan from India, your senses will register the difference between the two countries instantly! We first halted at the immigration office to get permits sanctioned for the tour. After the post permit formalities, we were free to explore the town of Phuntsholing, its bustling markets and the local cuisine!
Day 03: Phuntsholing to Paro
We started off to Paro from Phuntsholing the next day! As soon as we left Phuntsholing, the green serene mountains of Bhutan greeted us. The ride took us throughmesmerizing landscapes, thickly forested mountains and lush green and bright valleys. The architecture of each building in Bhutan was striking and will immediately capture your attention. As we closed in towards Paro, the roads became broader and straighter. The view of prayer flags and three pagodas at Chuzom where the Paro river meets the Thimphu river,marked our entry into Paro valley. Our night stay was at a hotel in the ancient city of Paro.
Day 04: Paro - Trek To Tiger's Nest/ Ride To Chele La Pass
This was the most awaited day on our trip as today we had the option to ride to Chele la (3988 m/ 13084 ft), the highest pass in Bhutan or trek to the famous Taktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as Tiger's nest monastery. The monastery stands on the edge of a cliff and offers a beautiful view of Paro valley. To give a word of caution - The trek is over steep slopes and dusty paths paved in the forest concluding with 700 steps. While it can be strenuous for some, the view from the top is extremely rewarding. You choose to walk (only till half-way). The trek will take approximately take 5-6 hours in total.
Day 05: Paro to Thimphu
We left early in the morning for a short ride to Thimphu via Chuzom. There were a number of things to do in Thimpu..... trekking, sightseeing, heritage vists.....etc., Here we were baffled by the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers! What magnificence!Thimphu being the capital of Bhutan offers a taste of city life in this nature-loving country. Once there, we headed out to see the best the city had to offer –so many options at our hands to choose from.... the ancient monasteries, royal palace and the majestic statue of Buddha giving a breathtaking view of Thimphu city.
Day 06: Thimphu To Punakha Via Dochu La
We left early for Punakha, also known as PungtangDechenPhotrangDzong (meaning "the palace of great happiness or bliss"), is the administrative centre of Punakha District in Punakha, Bhutan. Constructed by NgawangNamgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637–38, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, including the RangjungKasarpani and the sacred remains of NgawangNamgyal and the tertön Pema Lingpa. The standout of the day wasDochu la Pass. The pass is 10,171 ft high and has a concentration of 108 memorial Chortens. After a short break at the pass we rided downwards to Punakha amidst lush green trees and pristine mountains.The must visit place at Punakha is Punakha Dzong, one of the oldest dzongs in the country. After visiting Punakha Dzong, we retired for the day and enjoyed dinner amidst sounds of the river adjoining the hotel.
Day 07: Punakha To Phobjikha
Today our ride comprised of cruising through patchy mountains with hairpin loops and curves. Just before Pele la pass, we turned towards Phobjikha valley. The Phobijakha, also spelt Phobjikha, is a vast U-shaped glacial valley, also known as Gangteng Valley named after the impressive Gangteng Monastery of the Nyingma sect in central Bhutan, where the graceful black-necked cranes in Bhutan (Grus nigricollis) from the Tibetan Plateau visit the valley during the winter season to roost. On arrival in the Phobjikha Valley in the last week of October, the black-necked cranes circle the Gangteng Monastery three times and also repeat the process while returning to Tibet. The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan, is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness. The valley is rich in faunal biodiversity and has, apart from the globally threatened black-necked cranes Grus nigricollis, 13 other globally threatened species. Within the ambit of the valley, an area of about 163 square kilometres (63 sq mi) has been declared a protected area, which is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), for the protection of nature, authorized to manage, on lease basis, by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Tsechu, the colourful Mask Dance Festival of Bhutan and the Crane Festival welcoming the black-neck cranes in winter months are held every year in the precincts of the Phobjikha Valley, in the Gangten Monastery courtyard. It also has a popular 3-days trek route.
Day 08: Phobjikha - Rest Day
Phobjikha is a stunningly beautiful landscape, making it one the most important reasons to spend one more day here, so that we could go for rides or on a leisure walk on the numerous small roads, the valley had to offer. This breathtaking valley is marked by herds of yak that can be seen grazing the paddy fields. The valley is famous for being the winter home of black necked cranes that fly all the way from Tibet. The ride here after the mountain roads is a refreshing change and offers an indescribable experience.
Day 09: Phobjikha To Jakar (Bumthang)
Jakar Dzong or Jakar YugyalDzong is the dzong of the Bumthang District in central Bhutan. It is located on a ridge above Jakar town in the Chamkhar valley. The road is initially flat and then it starts to elevate in a steep mannerclimbing towards Pele la Pass at a height of 12,210 ft. The descent is marked by muddy roads where reconstruction and widening of roads is underway. The ride to Bumthang Valley is a steady climb as we crossed two more passes, with Yutong La being the first at an altitude of 11,155 ft. As we headed downwards, the road was marked by beautiful coniferous trees on either side. The landscape then breaks open into the beautiful Chumey valley. The ride further ascends eastwards towards Jakar via Keke la Pass.
Day 10: Jakar To Mongar
The day started early today since we had a long distance to cover. Monngar, is one of the 20 dzongkhags (districts) comprising Bhutan. Monggar is the fastest-developing dzongkhag in eastern Bhutan. A regional hospital has been constructed and the region is bustling with many economic activities. Monggar is noted for its lemon grass, a plant that can be used to produce an essential oil. It also has a hydro power plant on the KuriChhu river. Mongar is home to a variety of Bhutanese languages and dialects. In the east, the East Bodish Tshangla (Sharchopkha) is the dominant language, also used as a regional lingua franca
We crossedSertang la pass (11,778 ft) and descended to Ura, a picturesque village. We stopped enroute to pose for a few pictures for our adventure album! As we entered the National Park, we rode through overhanging cliffs and cedar trees before reaching Thrumshingla Pass (12,303 ft). This marked our entry to Eastern Bhutan. The landscape changes quite dramatically as we descend, with steep roads clinging to the side of rock cliffs, several waterfalls and streams on the road.
Day 11: Mongar To Trashigang
The days begin with a beautiful sunrise view from the top of the hill at Mongar. Post breakfast, we started our journey through the blue pine forests on a road clinging to one side of the cliff. This led us to Kori la pass at a height of 7,840 ft through dense a forest of Rhododendron trees. We were on our way to Tashigang, a town in eastern Bhutan and the district capital of the Trashigang Dzongkhag (district).The town lies to the east side of the valley above the DrangmeChhu river just south of where it is joined by the Gamri River. Trashigang is the eastern terminus of the Lateral Road, Bhutan's main highway leading to Phuntsholing in the southwest.The population of Trashigang was estimated to about 3000 in according to the 2005 census.
The descend from Kori la leads us through the corn and mustard fields to numerous switchbacks called the Yadi loops. The second half of the day was kept for local sightseeing.
Day 12: Trashigang To Samdrup Jongkhar
The ride today marks the last day of Bhutan and before we bid goodbye to the beautiful country, we move towards Samdrup, which is one of the 20 dzongkhags (districts) comprising Bhutan, and it offered up a few more surprises. The ride takes us through occasional waterfalls and three passes that open up into beautiful valleys. The road indeed mesmerizes and puts one into a trance. Views here are captured better in memory than on film. Our overnight stay was at Samdrup on the Bhutan - India border, in a basic but clean guesthouse.
Day 13: SAMDRUP JONGKHAR TO GUWAHATI & DEPARTURE
After a good night’s rest we started early today and after completing the immigration formalities at the border, entered back into India to bid farewell to Bhutan. The journey on the plains was easy on the motorcycle, but heavy on the heart. We reached Guwahati by noon, where we had few rooms reserved before we freshened up and departed for our evening flight from Guwahati.
Bhutan Visa Info
For foreigners travelling to Bhutan you will need to obtain a visa prior to entering. This can be procured through a Bhutanese tour operator like our company. To find out more please visit: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/getting-to-bhutan#sthash.KiieRjgm.dpuf
Bangladesh, Maldivians & Indian nationals do not require producing visa while entering into Bhutan.
Minimum Daily package - All foreign tourists are required to pay a Minimum Daily Package in keeping with the Bhutanese policy of “High Impact, Low Impact” tourism. Please refer to the following link to find out further details like how much per person and what is included: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/minimum-daily-package