Have you been planning a bike trip with your buddies for a long time, but cannot decide the place? Well, it’s time to get your bike fuel full, tires checked and the oiling done. Present down here is a seven day trip to Bhutan that you and your buddies can easily stroll, gaze and encounter from your bike.
A RUNDOWN TO THE DRUK YUL
The Kingdom of Bhutan or the land or the land of the Thunder Dragon as it is famously called due to the loud and thunderous storms that exude from the elephantine Himalayas. Bhutan is an inland country that is surrounded by Sikkim and China. Bhutan for an extremely long period was isolated from the entire world. I was only until 1974, that Bhutan opened its gates to the entire world. The first year of Bhutan tourism saw only 287 tourists. So, why should you visit Bhutan? Visit to travel to behold the steeping landscapes of Bhutan where you will meet people practising Buddhism and chanting in the stunning sea of monasteries present in the country. Gaze at one of the largest statues of Buddha, shop yatras or yethras and savour the spicy famous Ema datshi.
DAY 1 – SILIGURI TO PHUENTSHOLING
Start your journey to the Kingdom of Bhutan from the Himalayan town Siliguri in West Bengal. The road leading to the Bhutanese Border takes you through the Jaigaon town of West Bengal through which you will land to Phuentsholing. The Phuentsholing border way is the best and easily accessible route through which you can travel to Bhutan. A six-hour or 157 km journey that will drive you to Phuentsholing, located on the border of Bhutan. If you aren’t an Indian citizen, you must carry your passport and get the Bhutan visa from the Indian immigration office. After reaching Phuentsholing you will have to look for a hotel, or lodge to stay overnight.
DAY 2 – PHUENTSHOLING
At Phuentsholing the first place you will head to is the immigration office. The immigration formalities include submission of an Id proof and biometrics which will take just a couple hours from your day. After completing all the formalities head out to explore the beautiful Phuentsholing. though there isn’t much to explore in this city, a day is more than enough for you to see the tourists spots. The Bhutan gate that you will probably see upon entering the Country is exquisitely crafted as it signifies your entrance and exit from Bhutan. The Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang is the most famous place of Phuentsholing. It is located right in the heart of the city. it consists of replicas of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava (eighth-century Buddhist master)and eight life-size idols and paintings that take you through the life journey of Buddha. If willing to explore a calm and tranquil spot in the town then ride your bike to Phuentsholing viewpoint. It offers viewers a peaceful and serene look of the town and the Bengal plains. The Torsa river flowing beside it adds to the lucidness of the place. Plan your day accordingly and rest soon for an early start the next day.
DAY 3 – PHUENTSHOLING TO THIMPU
Have a heavy breakfast, start your bike and head to Thimpu. Thimpu is a 5 to 6 hour. The ride is peacefully poised with the tall Himalayas that is going to leave you spellbound. The serene pathways to Thimpu are full of luring backdrops of nature. Forests merging with the hush waves of waterfalls merging with the beautiful landscape, rivers and lakes.
You will also be able to spot stunning temples, monasteries and little villages. There are many spots in between the path to Thimpu where you can stop and rest. Great options for food and snacks are also available on the way.
DAY 4 – THIMPU
Exploring Thimpu from your bike is an ethereal experience. open to the world only in 1974, Thimpu has a lot for its visitors to explore and endeavour. The Thimpu Chorten is an important landmark of the city. The chorten or stupa are hemispherical structures that contain the relics of Buddha. the vibrant architecture and pilgrims chanting prayers makes for a wonderful sight to see. Walk around the stupa or to turn the prayer wheels to involve your selves into the holiness of this place. another wonderful spot to visit is the Buddha Point or the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. The park hosts a colossal statue of Lord Buddha. It is a 168 feet tall bronze statue that is covered in a thin layer of gold. The statue is recognised as one of the tallest statues of Buddha in the world. Since photography is not allowed inside the temple, let your eyes seep in the mammoth of this place. Another glorious spot of Thimpu is the Tashichho Dzong. A splendid read and golden fortress encompass throne rooms, ministry offices, king offices and monasteries. If lucky, you might be able to witness the gleaming faces of devotees celebrating their festivals that will surely enhance your experience. Witnessing the national animal of Bhutan (Takin) at the Bhutan Takin Preserve Mothithang, admiring the Himalayas from the Dochula Pass or shopping textiles and handicrafts, Thimpu has a lot of great options for you to enjoy and spend your day. After exploring the capital city, get rest and prepare for the next day.
DAY 5 – THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA
The journey from Thimpu to Punakha will take three hours via road. The magnificent journey will take you through the Dochula Pass in the snow-capped Himalayas. The pass includes 108 stupas that have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. After reaching Punakha, quickly freshen up and head straight to the Punakha Dzong that is one of the grandest places in the city. Rich in Bhutanese culture and architecture, it contains a large collection of Buddhist collections. The Mo Chu river located just nearby offers a bewildering site of the city. The river holds a great amount of significance in the eyes of the locals of Punakha. the rice paddies and the Namgyal Chorten (Namgyal Chorten was built in 2004 by the queen mother to ward off all the evil spirits and promote peace and harmony in the world) add to the beautiful charm of Punakha. Not just a place to sink in the beauty, the Mo Chhu is also popular for being the perfect environment for adventure seekers to go kayaking or river rafting. Search for an easy comfortable stay for the night. Several relaxed and pleasant stay options are available for bikers or backpackers that are looking for just an overnight stay in Punakha.
DAY 6 – PUNAKHA TO PARO
Fill your stomach with a hearty breakfast and quickly kick start your bike to Paro. It consists of numerous ancient buildings showcasing the art, architecture and history of the town. Ride through the Magnificent Chele Pass that is known for its stunning landscapes. The place is situated at 3810m above sea level and provides the highest road pass between the picturesque valleys of Paro and Haa. The pass also overlooks the Mt. Jomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake adds serenity to the place. There are several monasteries located here that you can choose to visit depending on the time you have in your hand.
- Rinpung Dzong Monastery – A Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school. It hosts the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. The monastery has been included in the tentative list of UNESCO heritage sites. Earlier the monastery was only built on five structures and was called the Hungrel Dzong. It was built by Lama Drung Drung Gyal. The descendants of Lama gifted this place to the great Ngawang Namgyal, the creator of Bhutan and the Zhabdrung the place. It consists of 14 shrines but some of them are not accessible to the public.
- Drukgyal Dzong Monastery – The Drukgyal Dzong Monastery was an earlier monastery but, now is completely in ruins. It was built in 1649, the monastery is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. In 2016, to celebrate the birth of The Gyalsey, the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, the Prime Minister Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay announced that the Dzong will be rebuilt and brought to its former glory.
- Tamchoe Monastery -The monastery has been built on the highway of the prominent Bhutan cities Paro and Thimpu. The Tamchoe Monastery is located on top of a small hilltop at an elevation of 2,156m. It was Built in 1420, the monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. The monastery was built by the great iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo.th iron bridge situated across the Pa Chhu River by which you can travel up to the monastery makes it one of the most spectacular sights.
- Zuri Dzong Fort – Protected by double walls and a bridge is the Zuri Dzong Fort that is a must-visit for everyone travelling to Paro. The fort was built in the 12th century and is popular because it was the sacred spot of Lord Buddha. It is said that around the 8th century he used to meditate at this exact spot. This five-storey building holds great importance among the Buddhist followers and Zuri Dzong Fort is one of those places where you can enjoy the mesmerising view of Paro Valley. Zuri Dzong is also a light trek for travellers willing to explore the stunning cliffs of Paro.
- Kyichu Lakhang monastery – The Kyichu Lakhang monastery is a Himalayan Buddhist temple. Also known as Lho Kyerchu or Kyerchu, and it is pondered to be the sacred Jewel of Bhutan. It was built in the 7th century by the Buddhist King Songstsen Gampo of Tibet. Built overnight, the monastery has evolved over the years. In the 19th century, it was restored and re-consecrated by the 25th Je Khenpo Sherab Gyaltshen. In 1968, a new structure of the temple was built and named Guru Lhakang. The extension was made by the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck.
You can also choose to visit the National Museum of Bhutan that was built in 1968 by the third hereditary Monarch of Bhutan. The museum contains stunning artefacts that have several ancient bronze statues and three thousand Buddhist paintings. The place covers 1500 years of Bhutan’s cultural heritage.
DAY 7 – EXPLORE THE TAKTSANG MONASTERY
Spend your next day travelling to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery or the Paro Taktsang. Just a 20-minute journey from Paro, it is located in the upper Paro valley of Bhutan. No trip is complete without travelling to this monastery. It is situated at an altitude of 900 metres on a hilltop with approximately seven hundred steps. To completely explore this beautiful monastery you will have to spend an entire day. Built-in 1692, the Tiger’s nest holds huge importance in Bhutan as it is known that Guru Rinpoche first meditated here hence, introducing Buddhism into Bhutan. Guru Rinpoche was carried from Tibet to this location on the back of a tigress. Thus, giving the monastery the name of Tiger’s Nest. The monastery consists of four temples with residential accommodations for Buddhist monks. Sadly, you cannot bike your way up to the monastery, therefore, hiking is your best option to reach the place. The time you spend here you can eat your meals at the cafeteria. Once done, head back to Paro. Though the hike is considered slight tedious, anyone with an average fitness will be able to complete the trek. Don’t forget to carry water, snacks and your camera to capture the beauty of this monastery.
DAY 8 – PARO TO SILIGURI
It is time to say goodbye to Paro and head to the city of Siliguri. The journey is 432 km that will take you approximately 8 hours to reach. Stop at a hotel to fill your stomachs and regain the energy level overnight.
Also Read:- GUIDE TO ROAD TRIPPING IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH