Bhutan, the hermit kingdom lies in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, sandwiched between the two mighty Asian giants – India and China. Bhutan’s landlocked nature and difficult mountainous terrain have kept it free from outside elements and that have helped in preserving a unique culture, traditions and a kingdom, that in its peak, carried campaigns in the Indian state of Assam and West Bengal as well. Today, Bhutan has completed a smooth and peaceful transition from monarchy to democracy where the royal family is still respected and honoured. Bhutan is unique, in the modern era of economics, where GDP is the yardstick of measuring a country’s importance, Bhutan has its own parameter, the unique concept of GNH (Gross National Happiness). The concept focuses on the people’s happiness level that includes education, accessibility to jobs, quality of life, health, family, etc. The country is now steadily progressing in almost every sector at the same time maintaining its rich culture and traditions. Buddhist monasteries are still popular and so are the unique cultural festivals. Bhutan’s air, water and land are still pristine and unpolluted. The people are honest, simple and always smiling and the food is delicious despite the lack of ingredients and fancy cooking techniques of the Western countries.
Bhutan’s capital Thimphu is a charming city with medieval Bhutanese architecture and several important government buildings. Thimphu, being the administrative and economic centre, have a good number of hotels, restaurants and travel related business. In Thimphu, do visit the Tashichhodzong, a delightful Buddhist monastery and fortress located on the northern edge of the city. Don’t forget to see the DechenPhodrang Monastery, Gangteng Monastery, etc. Visit the historic town of Paro, renowned for its sacred Buddhist sites like the famous Paro Taktsang, also known as the Tiger Monastery. Then there is the National Museum of Bhutan, etc. Visit the town of Punakha, that served as the capital of the country till 1955 and is known for its Punakha Dzong, a large Bhutanese architecture that serves as the key administrative buildings and monasteries.
Bhutan shares land borders with India and allows Indian citizens to enter the country by road without a visa. However, Indian citizens must carry valid identity cards to enter the country.Border crossing with India is currently available at Jaigaon (West Bengal). You can reach Jaigaon from Bagdora Airport, Siliguri. The journey takes approximately 6 hours to reach Jaigaon. The border crossing of Jaigaon closes around 8:30 PM IST. There are plenty of hotels available at Jaigaon. The Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing has a permit issuing office where you have to submit your valid ID proofs and takes around half-day to process them. Indian currency is widely accepted, however, avoid the old notes of 500 and 1000 post demonetization in India. Indian willing to fly directly to Bhutan from Indian cities of Bagdogra, Kolkata and Bodh Gaya. Druk Air is the official airline of Bhutan and the main international gateway of the country is the Paro International Airport.
Bhutan is a beautiful country with a slower pace of life. The country seems to be out of the world and that’s the most important charm. Give yourself ample time to explore the countries key cities like Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and take side tours to see the sheer beauty and freshness of Bhutan. Every Bhutan holiday package should include stay of 7 days. The time is ideal for travellers to soak in the beauty of the small Himalayan country.
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