The Kingdom of Bhutan may have less than 1 million people, but the ‘land of happiness’ oozes with beauty from pristine mountains and primeval forests to solemn monasteries and peaceful temples. If you’re planning an unforgettable adventure, riding your motorcycle from India to Bhutan is a truly exciting journey that will take you through meandering fields, charming villages, and breathtaking landscapes.
The government of Bhutan has long been conscious of their environment and was always keen to preserve the treasures of the kingdom. Travel is restricted in the country and tourists are required to book their tours through accredited agencies. However, if you are from India, Bangladesh, or the Maldives, you can obtain a free entry permit valid for 6 months. In addition, you can travel independently and are not obliged to go with groups of tourists.
Although travel by air is the most common form of entry to the country, going by land is also another option. Riding your own motorcycle is a great way to discover the offerings of India and Bhutan not to mention the health benefits of being outdoors. Before setting off for this 970km trek to Bhutan, ensure that you have a reliable ride. Service your vehicle, bring an updated license and insurance, and ensure that you have the proper safety gear. If you have an old clunker, consider shopping for a bike that will take you through all types of terrain from dirt and concrete to valleys and mountains. Having a reliable ride is extremely crucial as there are many places where you might not easily find a garage.
What to See in West Bengal
There are several entry points to Bhutan from India, but the most convenient one is from West Bengal. From the capital, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the trip will cover a distance of 1070km. Drive to Siliguri which is over 500km, then continue to Jaigaon which is the border town between India and Bhutan. From Jaigaon, it will be around 150km to reach Bhutan.
While in Kolkata, don’t miss the incredible Victoria Memorial and the resplendent Marble Palace that was built in 1835. In Siliguri which is at the foothills of the Himalayas, pass verdant tea estates, relax at the leafy Surya Sen Park, and contemplate at the Salugara Monastery. At the border in Phuentsholing, admire the Bhutan Gate which separates the two countries, stop by at the Karbandi Monastery, and Zangtopelri temple. Drive up to Alapan’s View Point for magnificent views of the hillside and forests.
Bhutan’s Most Famous Attractions
Once you pass the border and have completed all the formalities including getting your visitor and vehicle permit, drive up to the capital, Thimpu, which is 150km away. Take in the spectacular sights along the way and marvel at untouched gardens, small villages, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, temples, monasteries.
In Thimpu, spend time at Memorial Chorten with its distinct stupa and golden spire, visit the impressive Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fort, and discover the treasures of the Folk Heritage Museum. If you have enough time, head to the Motithang Takin Preserve and look for the takin which is the national animal of Bhutan.
A bike ride from India to Bhutan is a journey that will take you to some of the most gorgeous sceneries that you might see in your life. It is also an opportunity to learn a culture that is in many ways similar to India, yet distinct on its own.