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Old 12th December 2019, 17:25   #1
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Default A Bhutan weekend in a Swift

First of all I want to inform you all that this is going to be my first ever travelogue that I am going to pen down. Moreover I am a bad writer and a worse photographer. So please bear with me. I request all seasoned travelogue writers and photographers to give me suggestions on how I can improve my writing as well as photography skills respectively. It will be more of a photologue than a travelogue.

We live approximately 75 km. from Phuntsholing, the gateway to Bhutan but never visited the wonderful country before. So this year in the summer vacation, we decided to spend a few days in this beautiful country. The plan was chalked out after going through numerous travelogues available in this forum on Bhutan. A brief summary is as follows:

May 20: Coochbehar to Phuntsholing to Thimphu.
May 21: Thimphu local sightseeing.
May 22: Thimphu to Dochula pass and back to Thimphu.
May 23: Thimphu to Chelela pass and back to Paro.
May 24: Paro local sightseeing and back to home at Coochbehar.

We did not cover all places this time as we had some other commitments in the last week of May. So we only visited those places which are easily accessible and less tiring for us. Moreover this will give another chance to travel there again in the future.

Passengers:
My parents and me.
Vahan:
Our Swift vxi 2017 model
Sarathi:
Me only.

As there are excellent information available in the forum by senior bhpians about the immigration process and about the process of getting route permit for car, I am skipping that part and jumping directly to the travelogue.

Day 1: May 20, 2019:
We started from our home at 5.30 am and reached the Immigration Office at Phuntsholing at 7.45 am sharp. We parked the car at a nearby designated parking spot and went to the Immigration Office.

But this being the first Monday after commencement of the Indian summer vacation, there were hundreds of travellers waiting in front of the gate in a queue at 8 am only. We also stood at the queue. But on that day the place was crowded with mostly brokers each one submitting ten to fifteen applications of a single group. The scene was by no means encouraging and after a lot of dilemma we also hired one broker.

After a really long and painful wait in the hot weather of May, we finally got the Entry Permit as well as the Route Permit at 3.30 pm. We were totally exhausted in this process. Finally after refueling in Phuntsholing, we started our journey towards Thimphu at 4 pm. The drive was much easier compared to a similar hill drive in Indian hill stations. So I started enjoying it. Here I want to mention that I learnt driving in 2017 only. So I had a little bit of fear about driving in hills though I have been to Darjeeling twice. But that fear slowly vanished. The sun set at around 5.45 pm and the rest of the journey was under headlights. Before the sunset we came across a beautiful waterfall.
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p-t-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p-t-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p-t-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p-t-5.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p-t-1.jpg

At the end of the journey I was feeling really tired. So we took a break of fifteen minutes and after an uneventful drive of 5 hours, we checked into our Hotel Norbuling, Thimphu at 9.30 pm. After freshening up, we made some light dinner and crashed to the bed right away.

Day 2: May 21, 2019:
Today we woke up to excellent views of the surroundings from the hotel room. First a few photographs of the surroundings as well as our Swift:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-thimphu-hotel-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-thimphu-hotel-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-thimphu-hotel-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-thimphu-hotel-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-thimphu-hotel-5.jpg

This day we decided to visit the local sightseeing places of Thimphu. First of all we went to the Immigration Office, Thimphu to extend our permit to visit Dochula pass and Chelela pass. We submitted our applications at 9.30 am and were asked to collect the permits after 3 pm. Then we went to the National Memorial Chorten, Thimphu. It is a large stupa within a beautiful complex.
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chorten.jpg

From here we went to the Buddha Point. It is a statue of Lord Buddha, 169 ft tall, made of bronze and gilded in gold. The complex itself was very relaxing. The main statue is surrounded by numerous small statues of Tara. Below the gigantic statue of Lord Buddha, there is a shrine inside which photography is prohibited. The shrine has hundreds of small Buddha statues organized neatly throughout. We loved the place so much, that we stayed here for almost one and a half hour and clicked numerous photographs. A few of them:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-2.jpg

Goddess Tara:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-5.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-buddha-6.jpg

Then we went to Tashichho Dzong which is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. There are thirty temples, chapels and shrines within Tashichho Dzong. It presently houses the throne room and offices of the King, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministries of Home affairs and Finance. From this place one can have a beautiful view of the valley of Thimphu. Few pictures of the Dzong and its surroundings:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-5.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-6.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-tashichho-7.jpg

From there we went to the Immigration Office to collect the permits and after lunch we returned to our hotel.

Day 3: May 22, 2019:
This day we started from Thimphu for Dochula pass. We reached there after approximately one hour from Thimphu. The place was foggy. The foggy weather intensified its beauty to many folds. Dochula pass is a mountain pass on the road from Thimpu to Punakha where 108 memorial chortens or stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens" have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. Dochula pass is situated at an altitude of 3100 m (10,200 ft) above mean sea level. There are two parks on the two sides of the stupas. Restaurants and washrooms have been built in those park areas. Overall one can enjoy the area to the fullest. We stayed there for one hour and returned to our hotel by afternoon. In the evening we strolled around the Clock Tower Square of Thimphu. In the evening the city of Thimphu takes a marvellous makeover with all the lights lit up. One cannot describe that beauty in words. A few photographs of the beautiful Dochula pass.
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-5.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-6.jpg

Last edited by indrasis_gun : 12th December 2019 at 21:55.
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Old 12th December 2019, 21:07   #2
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Continued..

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-7.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-10.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-11.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-12.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-13.jpg

My parents with our Swift:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-14.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-dochula-15.jpg

Day 4: May 23, 2019:
This day we checked out from our hotel in Thimphu and proceeded towards Chelela pass, the highest motorable point of Bhutan. This pass is situated at an altitude of 3988 m (13,084 ft) above mean sea level. This pass is extremely windy. On a clear sunny day, one can view the Jomolhari, one of the highest peak of Bhutan from here. The Chelela pass is situated at a distance of 39 km from Paro on the Bondey Haa Highway. The road to the pass is narrow and little bit steep. Also the road passes through some beautiful forests. This was one of the best drives of Bhutan along with one in Paro just beside Paro Chu. But the weather God was not in our favour that day. When we reached there it was extremely cold, windy and drizzling. We could not spot the mountain range. But the foggy weather also had another kind of beauty which we enjoyed thoroughly. We stayed there for half an hour and decided that again next day morning we will come here to try our luck.
The Chelela pass:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-5.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-6.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-7.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-8.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-9.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-10.jpg

Then we started our descent towards Paro and reached Hotel Khamsum, Paro at around 3 pm. En route we visited the Paro Dzong and Paro Airport. Luck was to our side and we witnessed a landing of an airplane to the Airport. A few pictures to complement:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-airport-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-airport-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-airport-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-airport-4.jpg

But at the hotel we came to know that due to some goof up from the hotel, they did not have a vacant room. Apparently, they did not make entry of our booking into their log book. The manager herself apologised multiple times and they shifted us to a different resort approximately 8 km from the center of the town which was a blessing in disguise. We were shifted to Yewong Eco Lodge, Paro which is a beautiful property located inside apple orchard having individual cottages. The view of surroundings from the resort was very eye soothing. A few pictures of the surrounding area:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-hotel-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-hotel-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-hotel-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-hotel-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-hotel-5.jpg

Some pictures of the Picturesque Paro valley:

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-nearby-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-nearby-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-nearby-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-nearby-5.jpg

Last edited by indrasis_gun : 12th December 2019 at 21:56.
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Old 12th December 2019, 21:24   #3
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Day 5: May 24, 2019:
We checked out from our hotel at 7 am and proceeded straight to Chelela pass. This day luck favoured us and we got a clear glimpse of Mt. Jomolhari. Also the pass and its surroundings looked very different from the previous day under bright sunlight. We stayed there for half an hour, clicked photographs and started our return journey to home. Chelela pass on the 2nd attempt:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-chelela-1.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-paro-chelela-2.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-2.jpg
Mt. Jomolhari:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-3.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-4.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-5.jpg

Three of us:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-7.jpg

And four of us:
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-chelela-2nd-1.jpg


On the return journey, we faced dense fog before Gedu for approximately 20 km. Other than that the journey was uneventful and we reached our home at Coochbehar by 4 pm. Thus a beautiful yet small trip came to an end.

I have not mentioned the tariffs of rooms as one can find that from internet and the prices vary vastly according to the season. Overall the rooms were extremely neat and clean and food was good also.

The Swift returned a fuel efficiency of 15.6 kmpl overall (calculated in tankful method) without ac in the hills and with ac in the plains.

After returning from Bhutan, within five days we started our longest ever road trip from Coochbehar to Khajuraho, Panna Tiger Reserve and Lucknow. I will write about that one also when I get time.

Thanks for reading.

Regards,
Indrasis Gun.

Last edited by indrasis_gun : 12th December 2019 at 21:56.
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Old 12th December 2019, 23:19   #4
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

It is raining Bhutan travelogues in Team-Bhp! It is one of my most favourite places and I never miss reading travelogues on Bhutan. Envious that you stay just 75 kilometers away from Phuentsholing!

Will wait for your epic road trip travelogue on Panna Tiger Reserve and Khajuraho.
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Old 13th December 2019, 09:26   #5
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Beautiful country, superb photos a Dream drive. On my bucket list to visit Bhutan where a holistic and sustainable approach to development balancing material and non material values is undertaken through GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS.

Good read on the webpage gnhcentre Bhutan.
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Old 13th December 2019, 11:30   #6
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Your travelogue made me relive my Bhutan trip from 2016 that I had to dig out my pictures and afford myself few moments of nostalgia.

Sharing some additional pictures from Punakha (The Punakha hanging bridge and the Punakha Dzong) and the trek I and my mom took to the Tiger's nest. The Tiger's Nest trek remains on me re-do list (lol) as my wife couldn't trek last time as our daughter was just 7 months old then.
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A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-28795279_10155949685370289_5389955739426568383_n.jpg  

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A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-28616556_10155946538130289_7731122303110479872_n.jpg  

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Old 13th December 2019, 12:02   #7
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Absolutely gorgeous country and fabulous roads for a driving vacation. Great narration and pictures, especially for a first travelogue. Good work! By the way, I owned the Swift 1.2 VVT for more than seven years, and it was nothing but a joy to drive around for the entire period of ownership. One of the best cars I have owned, driven and lived with.

Have seen Bhutan in pictures when some family members went there, but had never really looked at it as a driving destination. Small, clean and well maintained country, with strict sense of discipline and superb civic sense of the residents. No wonder it looks picture perfect everywhere.
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Old 13th December 2019, 12:27   #8
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Default Re: A Bhutan weekend in a Swift

Quote:
Originally Posted by indrasis_gun View Post
First of all I want to inform you all that this is going to be my first ever travelogue that I am going to pen down. Moreover I am a bad writer and a worse photographer. So please bear with me. I request all seasoned travelogue writers and photographers to give me suggestions on how I can improve my writing as well as photography skills respectively. It will be more of a photologue than a travelogue.
Thanks for sharing, made up for a nice read on a Friday. Now I want to go there . Nice pictures and you have kept it crisp and concise in narration.

Quote:
We live approximately 75 km. from Phuntsholing, the gateway to Bhutan but never visited the wonderful country before. So this year in the summer vacation, we decided to spend a few days in this beautiful country. The plan was chalked out after going through numerous travelogues available in this forum on Bhutan.
Wow, just 75 km away! Thats a good opportunity to venture out to the nice country of Bhutan. How was the traffic sense and other drivers? I have heard it is poles apart from India.

Looking forward to more travelogues from you - especially the Panna Tiger Reserve one.

Cheers!
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Old 13th December 2019, 13:14   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Will wait for your epic road trip travelogue on Panna Tiger Reserve and Khajuraho.
I am thinking of not writing the travelogue of Panna Tiger Reserve as we could not spot the main attraction i.e. tiger. although spotted other animals. I will definitely give the road updates. But we really enjoyed Khajuraho.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
Wow, just 75 km away! Thats a good opportunity to venture out to the nice country of Bhutan. How was the traffic sense and other drivers? I have heard it is poles apart from India.

Looking forward to more travelogues from you - especially the Panna Tiger Reserve one.

Cheers!
The driving etiquette is miles ahead from India. It is more or less at par with much more developed countries.

I think I have to reconsider the decision of not writing the travelogue of Panna as we could not spot tiger.
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Old 13th December 2019, 14:34   #10
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I envy you for your close proximity to the Himalayas !! Bhutan was a good getaway for you and I relived our Bhutan Memories of 2017 in your travelogue; specially that view from your Thimphu Hotel Room was extremely nostalgic.

Sharing some pictures of my Bhutan Trip to add some more colour to your crisp pictures :
A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p5.d5-21.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p7.d6-18.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p7.d6-27.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-p8.d6-8.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-img_7430.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-img_7541.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-img_7526.jpg

A Bhutan weekend in a Swift-img_7590.jpg

Would love to visit Bhutan again ! It is such a beautiful country !
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Old 13th December 2019, 21:34   #11
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Gr8 travelogue. I made the road trip in October this year and your travelogue just refreshed my memories.
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Old 14th December 2019, 13:12   #12
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Very nice travelogue. I am quite excited to see the pics and makes me long for my trip to Bhutan. My brother is moving to Bhutan and eagerly waiting to visit him when he gets there. So already got my vacation to Bhutan next year.
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Old 16th December 2019, 12:01   #13
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Folks, in the case of an unfortunate accident in bhutan or nepal, will indian insurance companies honour the policy or one is on their own?
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Old 16th December 2019, 12:08   #14
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Folks, in the case of an unfortunate accident in bhutan or nepal, will indian insurance companies honour the policy or one is on their own?
You need to get "IMT.1. Extension of Geographical Area" done on your existing policy. While I have not travelled to Bhutan, during the last insurance renewal I called my insurance company and clarified. You can get this only for the travel duration and not the whole policy year. Apply directly via email and they send you a payment link for the extra premium based on the country and period of travel.

PS- This was for HDFC Ergo, should be the same for other insurance companies.

Last edited by blackwasp : 16th December 2019 at 12:09.
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Old 17th December 2019, 13:49   #15
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Wow enjoyed your writeup and pictures, yes you are really lucky as many have mentioned to live so close to such picturesque locales. Nice write up keep travelling and sharing, wishing you many more miles of driving.
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