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Old 5th May 2019, 15:33   #1
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Default Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

There are multiple travelogues for Bhutan. This is yet another one.

I think the sheer thought of driving 6000 kms is quite daunting and specially for family members for whom 8 to 10 hours drive is quite long already, the thought of driving all the way to Bhutan and back is not really easy to digest.

Not going much into overcoming the initial resistance of all family members, extended family members. But straight to the Travel Part.

Car: Innova Crysta 2.8G AT
No of people - 2 adults, 2 children. (14 yr and 7 yr)

The route choses was - start date 17th April
1. Bangalore to Rajahmundry
2. Rajahmundry to Bhuvneshwar
3. Bhuvneshwar to Kolkata
4. Kolkata to Siliguri
5. Siliguri to Phuentsholing
6. Thimpu, Paro, Punakha

Same route back. Back in Bangalore on 3rd May.

Preparations
1. Car service : The car is quite new - bought it in July 2018. Got the 10K service done. Filled it up with Synthetic oil.
2. Tyres - Filled them up with Nitrogen. Just went to the local fuel station and filled the tyres with Nitrogen. I am not sure how useful it is - but it held the pressure well - got it topped up at a tyre shop on my way back and the pressure had not changed at all.
3. Bought a large Duffel Bag from Amazon basics - The unstructured shape, I think is very useful for usage on long journeys in a car. A simple search on amazon will yield results on what I am referring to. I think this was a good buy instead of using suitcases which occupy more space in a car.

Day 1: Bangalore to Rajahmundry : We took the route via Kadapa to Rajahmundry (Google showed us this route). Early 4:30 AM start and we reached Rajahmundry by 7:30 PM.
Do note this route i.e. via Kadapa has very limited or almost no places to have breakfast. Best is that you either take the route via Tirupathi or carry some breakfast with yourself. Other than the road is quite good. And day time temperatures are beyond 40 in Summers in this area.

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190417_125915_2.jpg

Nearing Rajahmundry - you see acres of paddy crops and some beautiful canals
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_8869.jpg

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At Rajahmundry we stayed the night at River Bay Resort. A decent place. booked through Make my trip. You can see the Godavari river, it is right on the bank.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_8909.jpg

A model ship in the reception area
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Day 2 : Rajahmundry to Bhubaneswar: This is pretty standard road, stick to NH16 and it is an 8 hour drive.
The Chilka Dhaba is something one must make a stop - Almost everyone on this forum who has been on this route mentions so we made a stop there as well. Good Prawn masala and rice and some sweets (looked like Malpua) but I am not sure about the name - delicious none the less.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190418_183811.jpg

Day 3 : Reached Kolkata - Took an additional days' break in Kolkata. It felt like an achievement to reach Kolkata. The Rabindra Setu or Second Hoogly Bridge welcomes one to Kolkata.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190419_163357.jpg

Another reason to stay in Kolkata for additional day was to reach Phuenthsoling on a Monday. The immigration office is Not open on Saturday and Sunday

The Drive from Kolkata to Siliguri is not the best. The NH16 is being constructed at many places. And it took us almost 14 hours to cover 550 odd kms. Booked a place on Sevoke Road, again from MMT to spend the night.

The Drive from Siliguri to Phuentsholing is quite scenic, you get the coronation bridge, tea estates and forests.

We reached Phuentsholing on 22nd there we realised the gates were closed for the elections and will open only the next day after 6 PM !. This was terrible news.

But quite a bit of requesting with the immigration authorities at the gate, showing confirmed stays in Phuentsoling and Thimpu helped us get our car into Phuentsholing.

The Gate from Phuentsholing side.
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Straight to the Immigration office. I think there is enough information on how to get the permits already on the forum.
You need
1. Passports / Voter identity cards. We had passports so it was simpler
2. Confirmed booking of stay
3. Itinerary - even a rough one written on paper will work.
4. Photographs

And after taking finger prints you get the entry stamped on your passport

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190422_115653.jpg

Then straight to the RSTA to get your car permit. Again standard documents
1. Driving license
2. Insurance
3. RC book
4. Pollution certificate
5. Fees - Nu 100 per day. This place did not accept INR so had do a quick currency change for this

If you have your passports the entry permits then your passports get stamped and you don't need to wait for the physical print out of the entry permits.

I think one should plan to stay the night in Phuentsholing, nice town, best place to buy all the souvenirs. I had read it is significantly cheaper there and it is true. My children wanted to buy the local dress - Gho and Kira and the people recommended to go back to Jaigaon and buy them there - much cheaper. We did that. Good placed to eat as well.
Kizom coffee for good coffee and snacks
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Hotel Bhutan Residence. This hotel again booked using Make My trip. I think the hotels in Bhutan are cheaper than on the Indian Side. I would highly recommend that you stay on Bhutan' side if you need to spend a day near the border.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190422_170506.jpg

The the next day drive to Thimpu - Again scenic amazing drive. You get 2 check posts along the way to get your permits verified. You need to make sure to get your permits verified there.

Entering Thimpu City
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9249effects.jpg

Arrived at the resort. We had booked Thori resort again using Make My Trip.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_150717.jpg

This resort is a decent. We had to book 2 rooms per night and also this resort is good when you have your own car - It is remote and 5 kms in the hills can take 20 mins to go to nearest restaurant to eat, which is the main city. The hotel has decent options to eat but it is better to go any restaurant in Thimpu city.

We decided to head to Thimpu city to roam around. Some pictures from the city itself.

The Clock Square. There was some song and dance program for a fund raising event.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_182009.jpg

At the entrance of the Restaurant Bhutan Kitchen
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Children spinning the prayer wheels
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A local girl helping my daughter with the exact way of wearing the Kira
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Football match in the olympic stadium
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Attached Thumbnails
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9558.nef.jpg  


Last edited by carrot_eater : 12th May 2019 at 23:59. Reason: Images
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Old 5th May 2019, 18:26   #2
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Default re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Day - 2 - Paro - Taksang Monastery

We got up and headed straight to Paro. The Goal was to trek all they way to Taksang Monastery and head back to Thimpu.

I had done non-refundable bookings otherwise it is a better option to stay a night in Paro and start the trek early in the morning.

The destination - google send me this picture with effects

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190424_132034effects.jpg

Paro - on the way to the Tiger's nest.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9310.jpg

The trek beginning point. There are ponies available which take you up to the mid point. It is definitely worth it for children under 10. Older than 10 should be able to walk. Though we had underestimated the trek - The trek is pretty hard and one needs to take frequent break to catch your breath.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9312.jpg

We took a pony for our daughter.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9315.jpg

The view of the Dzong. One can actually see a Face of Buddha (Angry form) if you look carefully
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9327.jpg
Flags on the way
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9363.jpg
Some pics from the way up
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9364.jpg

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On a bridge in Paro
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9412.jpg
on the way back
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9414.jpg

We took a little longer on the trek and couldn't see the Paro Dzong - but it was beautifully lit up in the evening.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9419.jpg

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9431.jpg

Back at the Hotel in Thimpu
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_205801.jpg

Thimpu city as seen from Hotel
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_210814.jpg

Last edited by carrot_eater : 12th May 2019 at 23:58.
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Old 5th May 2019, 22:19   #3
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Nice one. I was there doing the exact same circuit on the exact dates at Bhutan. Am sure we crossed each other or bumped into each other there. It's a wonderful place. I still can't believe we walked up all the way up Tigers nest. Nice clicks. 👍🏻
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Old 13th May 2019, 00:18   #4
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Default re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Day 3 - Thimpu
We spent the next day in Thimpu - Had to get the permits for Punakha. The process to get permits to restricted areas is very simple. Go to the immigration office - fill the form and submit. I was asked to come back and collect it in 2 hours.
That day we spent in Thimpu

The Thimpu Dzong. This Dzong is open for only one hour 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. We couldn't see it from inside.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9446.jpg

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School girls coming back from School
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9466.jpg

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We decided to head towards Buddha Point. Some Pictures from there.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9474.jpg

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We headed back to the Dzong - again only from outside, we missed the 1 hour slot when it is allowed to go inside.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9508.jpg

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9509.jpg

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190425_182942.jpg

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9514.jpg

We decided to try some local cuisine at Bhutan Kitchen. Authentic Bhutnese food.

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_195806.jpg

It is a set menu - with Emadatsi, Kewadatsi and boiled vegetables, red rice, with fried cheese. To be honest, we could only eat the Kewadatshi, dal and the rice. Emadatsi was very very hot. Fried cheese, well couple of spoonfuls was ok but too rich and milky for me. But one must try the Bhutnese food at least once.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190423_200314.jpg
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Old 13th May 2019, 00:48   #5
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Day 4 : Punakha, Dochula Pass

The drive from Thimpu to Punakha is a scenic 2 hour drive. The first stop teh Dochula Pass

An over exposed pic of the Druk Wangyal Chortens
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9516.jpg

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On the way to Punakha Dzong
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The Punakha Dzong is most important Dzong in Bhutan. The King's wedding, Coronation - all happen here. This is the second Dzong after Taksang that we saw from inside. Definitely worth it.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9558.jpg

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Monks preparing the decoration with butter
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9572.jpg

The Central Tower, apparently in the older times served as a watch tower to watch out invaders from Tibet.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9578.jpg

A monk obliges for a photo
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9584.jpg

The main temple
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9587.jpg

An old lady using a hat made with plants to protect from the harsh sun. Punakha is significantly hotter than Thimpu.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9603.jpg

Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190426_112802effects.jpg

Finally a family picture in Punakha Dzong.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190426_1234172.jpg

After this we had gone to the Suspension bridge a very short drive from the Dzong.

We did the same route back i.e. Thimpu to Siliguri, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Rajahmundry to Bangalore. Reached Bangalore on 3rd May.
The odometer, I had reset it to zero at the start of the trip and it was a total of 6005 km
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190502_232005.jpg

We got lucky to not get in the way of Cyclone Fani by only a day. Otherwise we would be stuck in Kolkata for a couple of days at least.

Thats it. Thank you for reading.

Carrot_Eater.
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Old 13th May 2019, 08:22   #6
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th May 2019, 10:49   #7
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Nice travelogue with beautiful photos. A drive to Bhutan is certainly on my bucket list.
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Old 13th May 2019, 11:51   #8
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Thanks for sharing your beautiful travelogue. I am planning a similar trip from Delhi. I'll get in touch with you for further details. I hope sedans can make it easily.
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Old 13th May 2019, 12:40   #9
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Well written travelogue.

A vehicle suited for such long trips; keeps the tiredness at bay during long trips.

5* rated.
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Old 13th May 2019, 13:07   #10
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Beautiful place Bhutan.
One will find almost a binary change in driving habits once Indian border is crossed.

Tigers nest monastery trek is one of the most awesome thing to do near Paro, especially during onset of winter or at the end of winter.

Was there any snow in April? I guess no. We were lucky to have seen some in last year March.
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Old 13th May 2019, 16:06   #11
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Quote:
Originally Posted by saikarthik View Post
Beautiful place Bhutan.
One will find almost a binary change in driving habits once Indian border is crossed.

Tigers nest monastery trek is one of the most awesome thing to do near Paro, especially during onset of winter or at the end of winter.

Was there any snow in April? I guess no. We were lucky to have seen some in last year March.
Indeed, there is a sea change in the driving habits. I did not honk for 5 full days, indicators and right of passage for pedestrians.

We actually under estimated the Tigers nest monastery. With the altitude and the steepness the trek is indeed challenging but it is something that everyone should do.

No snow - not sure if it was good or bad, the trek was challenging enough there was no need for snow to make it more challenging .
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Old 13th May 2019, 16:55   #12
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Nice travelogue carrot_eater. I started my trip from 11 Apr to 22 Apr and could not visit Punakha and Dochu La due to time constraints.
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Old 13th May 2019, 18:31   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carrot_eater View Post
Indeed, there is a sea change in the driving habits. I did not honk for 5 full days, indicators and right of passage for pedestrians.
Unfortunately, for me no indicator from an Omni guy. I was on my CBR 250R with all protective gear, was cruising @ 35-40 kmph and the driver suddenly turned in. Had a collision and my knee ligament got partially torn. Even then he tried a rip off (they assume tourists carry a lot of money).

Had to cut short my tour to just 5 days (visited Paro- trekked tiger's nest- Timphu) and rode back 300 kms to Darjeeling and Siliguri with injured knee and ankle due to short of money. At least medical facility in Bhutan is free for all, good care was taken by the guy who hit me and took Rs.2000 for damages on his 15 year old Omni.
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Old 13th May 2019, 18:36   #14
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Posting few additional pictures, which I could not post earlier because of the image size limitations. I have resized them and here they are:

The Takshang Monastery from the view point. Of all the pics that I took, this one is my favourite. I shot it RAW format, so had to resize it.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-dsc_9376.nef.jpg

Google added some effect to the picture of Punakha Dzong
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190426_112802effects.jpg

The only place where we are not allowed in the Punakha Dzong, restricted to Bhutanese nationals. We are told by the guide that many locals come for naming ceremony of their Children there.
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190426_123126.jpg

The Punakha Suspension Bridge - again Thanks to google for its "effects"
Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta-img_20190426_134000effects.jpg
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Old 13th May 2019, 19:24   #15
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Default Re: Bangalore to Bhutan in an Innova Crysta

Dear carrot_eater, this is a nicely written travelogue with excellent set of appealing pictures that will attract anyone to conduct a road trip. Congratulations and another fact to note is that you have covered 6000+ KMs on road which is almost the distance between Delhi and London (6693 Km according to Google) that is one continent to another continent. So one more reason to congratulate you.

And to your other point of generalization, this is not just another trip to Bhutan, this is a trip on a Innova Crysta GX 2.8 AT variant which I am also contemplating for quite some time and this travelogue gives enough confidence to me and other prospective buyers like me to rest their investment on this base variant AT. I doubt if there have been many travelogues posted here on Innova Crysta AT variants.

You may want to highlight how easy or difficult this was with Innova Crysta and if you have any pictures of experience with bad or difficult roads like in hills that would be great too. I also wonder how to travel this far a distance with children on board, may be some guidance will always be helpful.

Once again thanks for this writeup and congratulations.

Last edited by haisaikat : 13th May 2019 at 19:26.
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