Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 26th March 2010, 22:43   #1
Distinguished - BHPian
 
SS-Traveller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 6,628
Thanked: 10,859 Times
Default Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling

Bhutan, Sikkim and the mountains around Darjeeling have been regions I have not been to since I was 10 years old, and an opportunity presented itself recently when an uncle of mine, working out of Gangtok, planned to tour the area and wanted company. Thus it was that we decided to forgo a road trip as is usual for us, and chose to fly down to Bagdogra from Delhi and continue our trip by road from there.

Sunday, 21 March, 2010: Ten minutes after departing for the airport, our Meru cab slams into an idiot trying to run across the NH8 expressway, and cracks its windshield. The idiot gets up, brushes himself and limps away. An otherwise uneventful 4-hour hopping flight via Guwahati brings the 5 of us to Bagdogra (IXB). The view of the Himalayan ranges from the left side of the aircraft is breathtakingly beautiful, and by the time we land, the cracked windshield is forgotten.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08542k80.jpg

The Tavera we hire from the airport to take us to Phuentsholing has an aircon that officially works, but is effectively useless. There's a maniac of a driver at the wheel, and it costs us a lot more than we had anticipated - all of 2300 INR - but we aren't about to let that spoil our mood.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08547k80.jpg

What does spoil the mood soon after is when we stop for some tea and snacks. Five minutes into the stop, the driver comes to us with the news that entry permits into Bhutan are not being issued. He had received this news from a friend who was driving by and stopped, and gave him the information on hearing he was headed to Phuentsholing.
Name:  DSC08550K80.jpg
Views: 7004
Size:  80.3 KB

Then follow a series of phone calls, including to BHPian Sutripta, and to friends in the Army with links in Bhutan. A half-hour of worry later, clarification arrives from Bhutan - the SAARC meeting scheduled for April this year has made the Bhutan government tighten security, and tourists are not being randomly allowed in. Friend's friend in Thimphu passes on his mobile number for us to call in case our permit application is turned down, and that he would convince the Immigration folks to let us in.

In the event, we enter Bhutan smoothly. No phone calls required. "Smooth" applies only to the entry, and not to the ride up to Thimphu. The direct road from Phuentsholing to Gedu is under repair, and we have to detour via Pasakha, Monitar and Dala along an unpaved road which adds 42 km and 2 more hours to the usual 6-7-hour journey.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-map.jpg

To add to our troubles, we are accompanied by a constant drizzle, and sometimes torrential downpours along most of the way.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08721k80.jpg

... to be continued...
SS-Traveller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th March 2010, 23:04   #2
Senior - BHPian
 
hvkumar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 7,369
Thanked: 3,354 Times
Default

SS, how did you convince yourself to leave your car behind!?

The Tavera - was that a one-way drop for Rs 2,300 (does it include return fare also?)

How long did you take to get the permits at Phuntsoeling?

The Pasakha route was the only one open when I went last April too? How is the road widening work towards Gedu?

Last edited by hvkumar : 26th March 2010 at 23:05.
hvkumar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th March 2010, 23:27   #3
Distinguished - BHPian
 
SS-Traveller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 6,628
Thanked: 10,859 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
SS, how did you convince yourself to leave your car behind!?
A very pertinent question indeed. My uncle promised us the availability of a vehicle from Gangtok onwards, and we have a Bolero GLX (albeit 2WD) to take us to Nathu La tomorrow morning, and to Pelling & Kecheopalri Lake the day after.

On afterthought, the decision not to take our car along was a good one, because Bhutan has stopped issuing permits to Indian vehicles for 45 days from 15 March 2010 onwards. So we could not possibly have driven ourselves to Thimphu, and would have needed to park the car at P'ling and take a Bhutan-reg. car there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The Tavera - was that a one-way drop for Rs 2,300 (does it include return fare also?)
This was a SK-reg Tavera, and they pick up passengers from Jaigaon in the morning for transport to Gangtok. The usual charges are 200 INR per passenger. However, we missed getting one (they leave Jaigaon by 7:30 am) and had to pay another big amount of 3200 INR to book a full Scorpio (M2Di) to bring us to Gangtok yesterday (from where I write this).

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
How long did you take to get the permits at Phuntsoeling?
Not more than an hour. We submitted our papers around 9:15 am (BST), had our pictures taken, and by the time we had breakfast the papers were ready.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The Pasakha route was the only one open when I went last April too? How is the road widening work towards Gedu?
The direct route from Gedu to P'ling via Taktikoti is open to traffic from 4 pm (BST) to 8 am (BST). We took this road on our way back. From about 25 km before Gedu till Taktikoti the road is excellent. Roadwork continues downhill of this point, but the actual bad stretches might total about 12-14 km. Uphill from Gedu (towards Thimphu) the road is patchy till Chapchha and the Saba Army Camp, beyond which again the surfacing is mostly excellent.
SS-Traveller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th March 2010, 06:48   #4
v&v
Senior - BHPian
 
v&v's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 1,538
Thanked: 1,068 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Bhutan, Sikkim and the mountains around Darjeeling have been regions I have not been to since I was 10 years old, and an opportunity presented itself recently when an uncle of mine, working out of Gangtok, planned to tour the area and wanted company. Thus it was that we decided to forgo a road trip as is usual for us, and chose to fly down to Bagdogra from Delhi and continue our trip by road from there.

Sunday, 21 March, 2010: Ten minutes after departing for the airport, our Meru cab slams into an idiot trying to run across the NH8 expressway, and cracks its windshield. The idiot gets up, brushes himself and limps away. An otherwise uneventful 4-hour hopping flight via Guwahati brings the 5 of us to Bagdogra (IXB). The view of the Himalayan ranges from the left side of the aircraft is breathtakingly beautiful, and by the time we land, the cracked windshield is forgotten.
Attachment 316358

The Tavera we hire from the airport to take us to Phuentsholing has an aircon that officially works, but is effectively useless. There's a maniac of a driver at the wheel, and it costs us a lot more than we had anticipated - all of 2300 INR - but we aren't about to let that spoil our mood.
Attachment 316361

What does spoil the mood soon after is when we stop for some tea and snacks. Five minutes into the stop, the driver comes to us with the news that entry permits into Bhutan are not being issued. He had received this news from a friend who was driving by and stopped, and gave him the information on hearing he was headed to Phuentsholing.
Attachment 316374

Then follow a series of phone calls, including to BHPian Sutripta, and to friends in the Army with links in Bhutan. A half-hour of worry later, clarification arrives from Bhutan - the SAARC meeting scheduled for April this year has made the Bhutan government tighten security, and tourists are not being randomly allowed in. Friend's friend in Thimphu passes on his mobile number for us to call in case our permit application is turned down, and that he would convince the Immigration folks to let us in.

In the event, we enter Bhutan smoothly. No phone calls required. "Smooth" applies only to the entry, and not to the ride up to Thimphu. The direct road from Phuentsholing to Gedu is under repair, and we have to detour via Pasakha, Monitar and Dala along an unpaved road which adds 42 km and 2 more hours to the usual 6-7-hour journey.
Attachment 316360

To add to our troubles, we are accompanied by a constant drizzle, and sometimes torrential downpours along most of the way.
Attachment 316359

... to be continued...

Doc, As usual nice narration of your trip
How is the climate there ?
How was ther journey in Tavera?
I had horrible travel experiance in it from Delhi to Masoori ?
Have a safe journey.

v&v
v&v is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th March 2010, 13:15   #5
Senior - BHPian
 
tanwaramit's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Dilwalon ki Dilli
Posts: 1,886
Thanked: 334 Times
Default

nice travelogue and more and more stuff awaited. So how long are you there ? From Scorp to Bolero. Anyway, thats a good monster to these roads. Am glued on this thread.
tanwaramit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th March 2010, 22:01   #6
Distinguished - BHPian
 
SS-Traveller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 6,628
Thanked: 10,859 Times
Default

Just returned an hour ago from a rollicking white trip on the Nathu La route. More details about it as I post the full travelogue, but the temptation is extremely high to post this teaser pic right now. Enjoy.

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09491k80.jpg
SS-Traveller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th March 2010, 23:10   #7
Senior - BHPian
 
maddy42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Phoenix, Coorg
Posts: 1,846
Thanked: 491 Times
Default

Wow. Driving in the snow is scary and very slow i guess. Bhutan sounds to be very beautiful so waiting for your pictures to confirm the same.

Sorry to hear about your situation though. Breath in Breath out. Like Anil Kapoor says. Be + Yaar
maddy42 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 00:54   #8
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Bhubaneswar
Posts: 1,762
Thanked: 532 Times
Default

Had got stuck in a snow storm for about 7 hours on this very road, near Tsongmo Lake.
julupani is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 07:13   #9
BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 172
Thanked: 9 Times
Default

Awesome picture and night time at nathula pass route what a combination!! moon light on snow & ice seems like nature wrapped silver foil all over the planet...

reason : My laptop's screen was enough tilted...to create a mirage that picture captured at night time but in reality it seems like dusk!!

Last edited by akaushik : 28th March 2010 at 07:16.
akaushik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 08:09   #10
Team-BHP Support
 
theMAG's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 7,035
Thanked: 1,472 Times
Default

I really envy you folks living within reach of the Himalayan range. That entire region is magical.
theMAG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 08:31   #11
BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 172
Thanked: 9 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
I really envy you folks living within reach of the Himalayan range. That entire region is magical.
And we envy you guys during monsoon period only and of the every weekends you spent during that period along the wonderful ghats and greenery.

But the reality is grass always looks greener at the other side.

Last edited by akaushik : 28th March 2010 at 08:32.
akaushik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 09:05   #12
Distinguished - BHPian
 
sudev's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 3,511
Thanked: 2,385 Times
Default

Lovely teaser - now out with the rest of the N'La trip details. F5 F5 F5
sudev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 09:24   #13
Senior - BHPian
 
sachinj12's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,188
Thanked: 161 Times
Default

Hooked to the thread. Uber cool pics. Now, quickly post the remaining travelouge.
sachinj12 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 09:41   #14
3.2
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: TO
Posts: 2
Thanked: 0 Times
Default

subscribed and added to the to-do list. I envy you yet look forward to the pictures of your adventure into that beautiful region.
3.2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2010, 11:21   #15
BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Navi Mumbai
Posts: 388
Thanked: 51 Times
Default

Thanks for a nice travelogue. The first photo is of Kanchenjangha range - one can see this range from whole of North Bengal and Sikkim. From the flight it's looking even better.

The Motorist Inn in the 3rd photo is that in Raninagar - between Siliguri and Jalpaiguri? I think it is - my native - feeling nostalgic.

Happy tavelling.
gaddiwale is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
In a Mahindra Bolero to the Land of Happiness - Bhutan! PointZero Travelogues 33 1st April 2016 23:13
10 Days - Darjeeling, Kalimpong,Gangtok and North Sikkim BlackPearl Travelogues 57 14th October 2015 19:21
Delhi to Darjeeling/Sikkim wilkie366 Route / Travel Queries 20 17th August 2014 09:42
Query on leave encashment - Gross Salary or Basic? ashwinsid Shifting gears 15 5th February 2010 12:33
A Trip to Darjeeling/ Sikkim from Mumbai Sea Cruiser Travelogues 0 23rd September 2009 10:33


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 19:05.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks