• Personal Expenses (Snacks/Water Bottles/Energy Drinks)
• Cost Escalation due to change in itinerary
• Anything which is not mentioned in inclusions
Bhutan with tagline “Happiness is a Place” spells exactly for the same. With ‘Gross National Happiness’ preceding over the monetary considerations, it’s the land for merriment, blessedness, playfulness and JOY in a whole. Until 1962, Bhutan didn’t take notice of building roads in their country. It opened up to modern development very recently. To protect its traditions and culture, the kingdom prices itself a bit high leading to less of touristic invasion, which makes it super peaceful altogether.
The extremely rugged, slopping terrains, dense vegetation and mountainous landscape of Bhutan lends itself well to both on road and off road mountain biking. The straight roads hardly exist in such topography. For risk takers and bike freaks its heaven on earth. Away from the city hustle bustle and the harassing traffic jams, this place marks as one of the two places in the world with no traffic signals after Pyongyang in North Korea. Imagine no honking, overtaking and not being stranded between other motors, isn’t that AMAZING?
Biking projects self reliance and fearlessness. What better it could get, thundering the Enfield through the dirt trails in the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon Bhutan’. And its rightly said ‘Travelling here is travelling back in time’. The flawless greenery of the orchards, fossil valleys, quaint and tiny villages is beauty to the eyes. Running through the town over a Royal Enfield is an ideal union of ‘Beauty’ and the ‘Beast’. The chimes in the monasteries, chanting by the monks and a constant breeze preserves the undying customs and culture of Bhutan.
The entire road trip is dotted with winding roads going thousands of feet up and down, keeping one interested, excited and on toes throughout the journey. The trip is structured in a way that one gets to enjoy the ethnicity and uniqueness of cities like Phuntsholing, Thimphu and Paro along the countryside and its people.
The peculiarity in the names of places in Bhutan is equivalent to its untouched allure. The monasteries here are called by the names lhakhang, dzong and gompa. Just like the differences in names, each monastery is exclusive leaving a mark down the memory lane. The valleys slide adjacent to the culturally rich places here. Phuntsholing, Paro and Thimphu being the prior ones amongst few others like Punakha, Trongsa and Bhumthang.
Phuntsholing (Phuentsholing) is the border town in Southern Bhutan. It’s a small place sitting opposite the much larger Indian bazaar town of Jaigaon. This is the only gateway to Bhutan through roadway. The gate of partition is the most photographed attraction here. There are couple of sites here which can keep an hour or two occupied. It houses a crocodile breeding centre and gives an opportunity to be the closest to this dangerous specie. Also the most visited Chukha Hydropower Project serves for a beautiful scenic beauty.
The last Himalayan kingdom Paro lies on the banks of the Paro (or Pa) Chhu, just a short distance of the imposing Paro Dzong. The main street, only built in 1985, is lined with colourfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants. Overtime the square has become a nondescript hodgepodge of concrete buildings yet it remains one of the best Bhutanese towns to explore on foot and is worth an hour or two's stroll.
Being the capital it is the beating heart of Bhutan. Small town feel with new commercial exuberance makes it for an intriguing destination. Crimson robed monks, traditionally dressed locals and camera wielding tourists all pave way to this city. From monasteries like Changangkha Lhakhang and Zangthoperi Lhakhang which pacifies the energy, it also offers an undisturbed view of Thimphu valley. There are museums of Heritage and Textile displaying exquisiteness of Bhutan. The stay in the capital drenches one in its own bright colours.
Day 1: Arrive Siliguri
Report to Siliguri, to start our journey to Bhutan. You can explore the sprawling city of Siliguri which is the strategically placed to open up to international border as well as North East of India. We will allot the bikes to the group in the evening. After the dinner, there will be a group orientation session followed by the briefing of the ride. The session will include the introduction of bikers, tips about the ride by the road, captains and also about the culture of Bhutan along with the road and climatic conditions.
Day 2: Siliguri to Phuentsholing
Distance: 160 KM Road: Mixed (Off road and Tarmac Road) And the wait is over! We flag off our ride to Phuentsholing, border city of Bhutan. The drive along the National Highway 31 from Siliguri to Sevoke through Dooars is a paradise. Combination of thick forests and numerous tea plantations spread over acres of land absorbs us in the lap of nature. Finally after an endless crater driving, we reach Jaigaon and cross the gate to enter Phuentsholing. It is a different world with a refreshing change from the chaos of normal Indian Bazaar to quiet and orderly kingdom. Evening is for self exploration of the place.
Day 3: Phuentshioling to Paro
Distance: 180 KM Road: Narrow winding Roads After the breakfast we start our ride to Paro city. The road climbs up through steep gradient to Richending monastery. The highway takes a long twisting and turning climb through tropical jungle with few hamlets by the sides. It is a combination of up and downhill drive up to Chapchala ridge. The road descends down to gorge and follows the river upstream to the river confluence and road junction at Chunzom where road branches off to Paro and Thimphu. The prayer flags and pagodas at Chunzom mark our entry to Paro valley. On reaching the city by evening we lose ourselves to explore the place.
Day 4: Paro Tiger's Nest Trek Paro
Distance: 40 KM Road: Trek A drive through a beautiful country side and golden paddy fields after breakfast starts our 3rd day. After climbing up gradually making twists and turns we see small cottage lodges, cafeteria and chorten before the road enters pine forest. From here on we trek up to the Taktsang or Tigers Nest Monastery. It’s perched on a cliff, like two white specks stuck on the vertical rock by magical glue. The trek has over steep slopes and dusty paths paved in the forest concluding with 700 steps. Either choose to walk or hire a pony (only till half-way). With waterfalls and the alpine tree cover, the trek gets pleasant and makes one forget the tiredness and the entire muscle ache. It’s the serenity and holiness of the place which pulls many to hike up to this height. On clear day, one can have a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain- Mt. Jomolhari. Following the trek we visit to Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Bhutan which is stunning and one of its kinds. In the evening we witness the nightlife of Paro. By the Paro River the view of fully lighted Paro Dzong is spectacular. We soak ourselves in the lap of Paro valley for the last time and sleep through the night.
Day 5: Paro - Chele la - Thimphu
Distance: 114 KM Road: Trek We ride to the highest motor able pass in Bhutan at a whopping height of 3988m i.e. Chele La pass. The feeling at 13000ft is no less than winning and conquering over the mother nature and rising tall all alone amidst the prayer flags and your troop. We gradually descend to Thimphu through dense vegetation on one side and river which flows the other side. No journey is complete without maggi and chai! Take a break by the wayside villages and binge on some thukpa (noodle soup), momos, maggi and chai. On reaching Thimphu, enjoy the disciplined and culturally rich lifestyle of this place.
Day 6: Explore Thimphu
Distance: NA Road: NA Indulge in the lifestyle of Bhutanese like a Bhutanese. Dress in ‘gho a kimono like knee length dress’ and ‘kira full length wrap around dress’ for man and woman respectively. Binge on Bhutan’s speciality ema datshi (chillies with yak cheese), dumplings, red rice and zow shungo (rice mixed with leftover vegetables). Explore the charisma of Buddha point to overlook Thimphu valley. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to Lord Buddha’s largest statue in the world at Kuensel Phodrang. Scroll the city and enjoy the stay at happy land.
Day 7: Thimpu to Phuentsholing
Distance: 170 KM Road: Mixed Roads Last day on Dragon Land is completed by visiting Dochu La Pass at 10,171 ft. An important temple is at the crest of the pass. 108 stupas were made in memory of Bhutanese soldiers. These structures stand tall marking the love for countrymen. After a short halt at Dochu la, we begin the descent to Phuentsholing. Sharing of pictures, partying, singing, dancing and building memories for life is what awaits at Phuentsholing.
Day 8: Phuentsholing to Siliguri & depart to Home
Distance: 160 KM Road: Mixed Roads We bid farewell to Bhutan and start the return journey to India. Live this day to the fullest as you know what they say in bollywood ‘zindagi na milegi dobaara!’ Few hotels will be reserved in Siliguri for freshening up. Leaving our sole rangers- bullets behind we head to Bagdogra Airport for our onward journeys.
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