General · Travel · Trekkings

Where traditional Buddhist culture embraces external world : Bhutan

The Gross Nation Happiness philosophical based magical land was before me as i rode on from my Nepal adventure. The distant hill landscape which is more green-rich seemed very beautiful and amazing from the jaigon highway.

Around 10 AM, we entered the gates of Bhutan. The moment we entered the gates, it was an entirely new world bestowed upon me. It was beautifully structured, roads wider, cleaner, traffic managed well, no honks, no noise etc. It was seeming to us just as we had visited entirely a western world.

Our dirty habits of riding lawless within the country, made us do mistakes of cutting wherever there was a crossing, overtaking other vehicles. However, the traffic cops were very keen on such mistakes and caught us couple of times in guiding us the rules and warning us to follow them properly. Our bikes had to be parked where the parking signs were designated and it was pay per hour. However, the town phuentsholing like other cities of bhutan is free from theft of any luggage on your vehicles. Our helmets just kept on our bikes all over bhutan, did not got stolen at all.

We further went to the immigration/permit office which was hardly half a kilometer from the main gates in getting our permits. The required documents are:

  1. Passport/Voted ID (Aadhar not accepted)
  2. 4 PP size photos
  3. First stay hotel confirmation proof (Email copy is fine)
  4. Vehicle RC and license copies with originals.

An application form has to be filled in with attesting all documents, upon submitting to the front desk, they took an hour or so(crowd was more) in approving our application. Upon approval, we were allowed to get into the building for getting the permit documents. This stage took 2 hours as its a bit time taking process and many of the activities are still done on papers with mixed task in computers. Bhutanese are yet to evolve alot in terms of technology usage.

Once we received our permit documents, without any fees, we took copies of the document and visited RSVP office in getting our motorcycle permit. The RSVP office is 300 mts away from permit office. Another hour went by in getting the vehicle permits. The fees was 100 BTN/INR. All over the bhutan, INR is accepted. Hence one need not to struggle in getting it exchanged. However, for safety purposes, we inquired at a nearby restaurant for exchange where had our lunch and they offered to exchange the money free of exchange rates. So it was 1:1 exchange.
Once all the documents were received, as per our plan we had to reach Thimpu before night. Little did we know about the worst cold weather, yet we dared enough to proceed. With filling our tanks, we started our journey around 3 PM.

As we started to ascend the mountains, the sun was going down. The backdrop against India, the sun gave us a perfect adieu for the day.

Roads along the mystic mountains starts to get blissful.

Cause they said it changes when the sun goes down
Yeah, they said it changes when the sun goes down
They said it changes when the sun goes down

It finally changed, and it was damn brutal. As the time ticked, as the darkness engulfed everywhere but the cold got more bitter. Riding was getting really difficult. With all thermal gears upon me, still it was not enough to keep the cold off. Every hour or so, we used to stop by for a refreshment. Most of the houses are converted to a restaurant. Till 8PM it was easily available all through the highway. Bhutan butter tea was my favorite for every pit stop; “Be roman in rome”, ye 😉

By the time we reached Thimpu, it was midnight. We called up our hotel owner to guide us in reaching the guest house. We had booked Druke Heritage Residency, and entire 3 room apartment was provided for us. The guest house is very spacious and the owner stays right at the premises and is very courteous.

Day 2: Thimpu

It was lazy day and due to our previous night, saga with our saddle, we were very tired. Waking up late, we had pushed ourselves out of the house for roaming around Thimpu city by noon. First visit was clock tower in the center of the town.

After having lunch at Thakali kitchen near by clock tower, we went to see stupa nearby. 

Next we visited Bhudha statue on the hill top, from where entire Thimpu is visible.

While returning from this hill top, on the road side, the govt. has installed few gym equipment, which is really nice and its all in very good condition. Oh, how i wish my country to be like 😐

That evening, we decided to roam the market street for shopping.

Day 3: Thimpu

Next morning, we had to extend our permits by a day in case required. Hence we visited the Immigration office which is on the main street behind market road (apposite to Bhutan National Bank) and then to RSVP office which is in main bus stop. The process was swift and easy. The much appreciated and best part is, no where we had to bribe.

Next we started our ride towards Punakha. Again the roads were awesome and beautiful to ride on..

Meeting the favorite friends enroute is just cherry on the cake feeling..

The entire climbing experience through the ghat sections road suddenly widens up to a huge platform and immediately exuberates ones admiration towards the Dochu La pass. The view around here is amazingly beautiful

A group shot is a must 😉 After enjoying the panoramic view of the Eastern himalayas and the highest mountain of bhutan; we started to descend towards punakha.

The nearby cafe displays the winter images of the Dochu La pass and it looks magnificent!

 By evening we reached Punakha town and it was damn gorgeous.

We had prebooked our rooms at Damchen Resort and by the time we reached the hotel it was almost dark. The hotel suggested us to visit the nearby dzong wherein the night time lighting really looks impressive. Sadly our cameras could not capture the night beauty properly.

Finally the cold evening ended with a nice supper with biker brothers!

Day 4: Punakha

Next morning, though every one still dozing off at 8, i woke up to really enjoy the beauty of the environment which we had missed during the previous evening. The hotel situated on the banks of the river which looks amazingly beautiful. I enjoyed my breakfast river side though 😉 While the rest joined later on.

Later on we went for visiting Dzong. 300INR was the entry fees including guide. However, it was worth it.

Towards the exit, while rest of the guys got busy in taking their photos taken, i took a detour towards the rear side of the dzonge only to witness a beautiful mini lake.

Immediately we returned back to our hotels to load our saddles and off to Paro. The return journey as well was really amazing. Enroute, we had been informed by the hotel folks to visit a nearby Dzong which is very unusual in its nature. From the highway, it was almost 5 kms away and there is no proper roads. However we decided to visit the Dzong.

To our surprise, the whole village around this Dzong gave us a surprising welcome with all the male genitals sculptures being displayed for sale and also as house paintings. Upon entering the Dzong, we were made aware of the fact as to why the monk in this Dzong is being worshiped.

Legend goes by: This monk who traveled across landscape settled down here and started preaching unusual practices as apposed to other monks preaching. This monk believed in openness and liberation of self. Thus this monk preached of romance, erotic and sex and recommended to enjoy all pleasures of life without any discretion/privacy. This practice was totally against the rest of the monks and in culture itself, making this monk to be debarred out of core institutions. Slowly as the decades rolled by, this monk and his teaching were slowly adopted by many and his followers outgrew in numbers. 

Hence to this day, his teachings and himself along with his private part in various forms is worshiped by the people for better health and for successful parenting.

Enjoyed the beautiful curvy awesome roads enroute paro.. watch it 😉

We had booked our stay at Dharma Resort managed by a very friendly courteous owner Mrs. Sherub and the rooms were very good. She herself awaited for our arrival and made sure we get settled down in our rooms perfectly. She took care of us very nicely and we all felt at home.

Day 5: Paro

Next morning the view around our hotel was stupendous. Hotel itself looked beautiful in the middle of a beautiful landscape.

We had breakfast at the hotel and prepared ourselves to hike tiger’s nest monastery.

We parked our bikes at the foothills of the tigers nest and started off hiking this mighty mountain. Weather was cold and friendly for a good hike.

Over the half mark and further, sufficient facilities are being made for water availability for animals and humans along with proper resting place.

After an hour of trek, i reached the restaurant and they had very few items for rejuvenation. At 100 INR you get one cup of coffee with biscuits.

From there on, the climb gets a bit more steeper to ascend. It took another 30-40 mins for me to reach security gate of the tigers nest. While i reached the nest in 1:45 hrs, the rest of the guys took around 3 hours to reach and apparently they had the tickets. So i climbed to other nearby temple and played around at foot of waterfall while i had to just wait for them to reach, thankfully sun was bright enough to give me warmth and the view around was awesome.

Nearby temple

It was an exciting journey into the cave where flying tiger rested.

Legend says that, this mountain was the evil habitat for daemons who tormented villages around in killing innocents and destroying their cattle’s and fields. Then came this monk on the flying tiger wherein, with his powers destroyed all the daemons and took rest in this mountain for doing his spiritual practice and guarding the entire landscape. 

This cave is barely 2 feet in wide and one has to squeeze through down for 10-15 feet via a wooden ladder without any support. The tiger’s painting is kept and prayers are offered.

Gap between the rocks is where cave exists

That evening, as we returned back to our hotel, Sherub hosted a party at her home for my friend Chintan on his birthday. We all went there for dinner. It was very good gesture and family like care from her.

It was a wonderful evening for all us, especially for the birthday boy who enjoyed alot 😉

Day 6: Haa valey via Chale La pass

Next morning, to our surprise, there was little bit of snow fall during the previous night. Our bikes showed us a proof of it 😉

Chale La pass top was very windy and a bit colder too. While chintan had some health issues, he could not join us for the haa valley thus returning back from Chale La pass.

The view from here is stupendous..

Few minutes we enjoyed the view here and the rest 3 of us went ahead towards Haa valley. Nature around haa valley is really mind blowing and one has to just spend few days here for its tranquility.

There is noting much here at the haa valley except for the Army school and its base and a monastery. We returned back after visiting monastery.

When we returned back to Chale La pass, we stopped by for refreshment as Haa valley did not had any restaurants to savor. I decided to hike the hill top for a better view of the pass and around while Dhana and Deepak enjoyed the refreshments.

Watch the video..

That evening, our last evening in Bhutan; so i decided to hit the local market while the guys took some rest at room and later on they joined me. I did some shopping in buying local home made items. Thankfully i found pickles, chilly powder and sweet item which was pure home made as claimed by the store keeper. These items are available at the small grocery shops than at the super malls in paro. I bought a bamboo shoot and chilly pickles for home.

Then we all roamed around the main streets of paro for the night before departing back to hotel.

Day 6: Enroute Homeland from Mystic mountains

The last day was indeed bit of sad as we were due to depart from the beautiful mystical country having peaceful, loving and highly disciplined people. However, Sherub and her family arrived that morning in giving us a farewell. It was really a emotional moment for all of us in having to bid adieu to the wonderful family we were part of.

The final moments of overlooking at exceptional Bhutan’s beauty…

When we were about to reach phuentsholing, the whole mountain got covered with dense fog. It was really beautiful to witness the charming magic of mother nature, as one side it was deep dense fog with hardly few meters visibility and on the other side just plain clear sky.

Watch it.

The last sunset overlooking on the homeland, while still inside the mystical mountains..

Around 5PM we reached phuentsholing, had refreshment and got our money exchanged back. Bid a final adieu to the magical land once for all before returning to Birpara for over night stay.

Next day we returned back to Silligri airport after handing over our bikes to Gati transport for home delivery. They delivered with minimal damage to my bike, while deepaks bike stand was broken and Dhanas bike headlight cover was damaged. 

Home sweet home… ❤

Thank you and please leave your comments. 🙂

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