The travel Journey from India to Bhutan crossing the border to see the difference.
Sealdah Railway Station
Started trip from Kolkata Sealdah station.
From here a train runs daily to Hasimara which is the 3rd last station towards the north east of West Bengal from where it is easier to follow up further towards the border road entry point of Bhutan namely Jaigaon – Phuentsholing.
The booking of the train has to be done before hand which can be done directly from the Indian Railway Portal www.irctc.co.in or from any other train booking sites as well. I used Paytm to book the trains.
Train running: Kanchan Kanya 13149
Usual timing: Daily 8:30 PM
Lowest fair: Sleeper Class Rs 370 approx
Highest fair: 2 AC Rs 3000 approx
Travel Time: 14 hrs +
Morning mid way station. The train had the longest halt here.
Before and after this station don’t forget to keep an eye on Peacocks. Couldn’t capture any pics of them.
Around 12.30 PM reached Hasimara. From there you can hire a cab for full booking from outside the station but it costs more above Rs 250 to even upto Rs 500. I preferred using shared service. Just along side the railway track at the end of the track without going outside station you will find auto rickshaw stand with shared travel to Jaigaon market (Bhutan Gate). It will cost you just Rs 40.
The Indian side border area just spread few kilometers, you can vent around all the main areas walking. All the major facilities are available in and around the Bhutan gate itself like lodging, restaurant, ATM, market, street food, rickshaw, cabs, bus stand, temple, mosque, etc. Foods mainly available are Indian, Chinese, Muslim and Bhutanese. Currency both Indian and Bhutanese are accepted here on both sides of the border and have the same value. For lodging you can check in for Dharamshala which is very cheap but they have less private rooms and more dormant shared areas. I preferred other lodging area (New Annapurna Hotel) which cost around Rs 350 per night.
Crossing the border the first place you enter. The main gate is called as Bhutan Gate through which only vehicles can pass. For walkers there is an entry and exit gates before the left side of the gate. No such hard checking is done here. Just may be your bags or luggage will be scanned through available scanners. I wasn’t stopped or asked for any checking or identity. It was normal, which really made me to question myself “what is the difference? Why this kolaveri?”
Anyway, I was hungry and on a suggestion of my beloved here I just went to this restaurant which is the first one you could see while just entering Phuentsholing (Bhutan Gate). You will find Bhutanese, Indian and Chinese food here. I tried Bhutanese Shamu Datsi + Rice including Lassi, Chatni (very spicy) and 2nd serving of rice just Rs 170.
Shamu Datsi – Mushroom Cheese Chilli
Kewa Datsi – Potato Cheese Chilli
Ema Datsi – Cheese Chilli
This is the park just on the left side after entering the Bhutan Gate into Phuentsholing. At one end it has this holy place for Bhutanese and rest of the area is like calm area with fountain and sittings all across the park. Around the park is the town market and you can find all the basic shops in and around here too from general stores to shopping products, restaurants and fast food shops.
Just to the right side after entering the Bhutan Gate you will find this office building. It is open in office working hours only weekdays. In case you want to enter further into Bhutan like towards Thimphuor Paro then you have to get the permit from this office. For Indians just your voter ID is required. I didn’t had any further plans to move ahead this time. So the in and around areas that I vented around, I didn’t had to get any permit.
For the return, you wont easily find any shared rickshaw as you got from the station. Either book a cab or just at a walking distance you will find bus stop where you can find mini buses which will drop you at Hasimara station back at Rs 20. Return train is same Kanchan Kanya 13150 timing 16:40 from Hasimara to Sealdah.
It was all about “Across the border – India n Bhutan – Where is the difference?”