ALL ABOUT KINGDOM OF BHUTAN
Purely Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom has unsurpassed scenic majesty and vibrant culture. The kingdom is still regarded as one of the last Shangrl-la’s in the Himalayan region and is living heritage of Buddhism. Sandwiched in the Himalayas between India, Nepal and the Tibet region of China, shares the world’s greatest mountains which makes it an exotic tourist destination. The Bhutanese have safeguarded their ancient way of life, beautiful Dzongs, temples and houses with architecture found nowhere else in the world, which adds up to the call to Bhutan. Thimphu is the capital city & Paro which is at a 2 hours drive from Thimphu is the only airport in the country. Phuentsholing is an Indo-Bhutan border town and is one of the entry point to Bhutan by surface from India.
|Location:||Located in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is bordered by China in the north & Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam & West Bengal in the east, west & south.|
|Area:||38,398 sq. km.|
|Altitude:||Varying from 180 m. to 7550 m. above sea level.|
|Population:||Approx 7 hundred thousand|
|Local time:||6 hours ahead of GMT & 30 minutes ahead of IST.|
|Religion:||Mahayana Buddhism & Hinduism.|
Best time to travel: Bhutan has four distinct season, spring, monsoon, autumn and winter. Spring and autumn is the best time to visit Bhutan i.e. end of Febraury till end of March and September to November. If you love flowers, you will get plenty of them in May, June and July. November, December, January and February will be blessed with breath taking mountain views, sunny days and the morning/evening chills.
National Emblem: The National emblem, contained in a circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel & framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular & religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its Vajrayana form. The lotus simbolises purity; the jewel – sovereign power; & the two dragons a male & female stand for the name of the country-the thunder dragon (Druk Yul).
National Flag: The national flag is rectangular & divided into two parts with a white dragon in the middle. The upper yellow half signifies the country’s secular authority of the King & the lower saffron-orange half signifies the religious practice & spiritual power of Buddhism.
National Tree : Cyprus (Cupresses Corneyana).
National Flower : Blue Poppy (Mecanopsis Grandis).
National Animal : Takin (Budorcas Taxicolor).
National Bird : Raven (Corvus Corax Tibetanus).
National Day: National day is celebrated on 17th of December in commemoration of the accession of Gogsar Ughen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan to the throne in 1907, in Punakha Dzong.
People: Bhutanese are friendly & hospitable people. The large majority of Bhutanese people are a homogeneous group divided linguistically into three broad sub-groups. These are Sharchops, Ngalong & Lhotshampa.
Currency: Ngultrum, the currency of Bhutan, has the same value as Indian rupee, which is also a legal tender.
Food: Staple diet is red rice, buck-wheat, wheat, maize, pork, beef, chicken, yak meat, cheese & chilies (taken as vegetable – not as spice).
Arts & Crafts: Bhutan is known for handicraft items in bronze, silver & other metals. Sculpting of religious figures is widely practiced & every temple, houses are large brightly painted & gilded statues of the Buddha & other saints.
Dress: Bhutanese men wear “Gho”, which are longish robes tied around the waist by a cloth belt known as “Kera”. The women’s ankle-length dress is known as “Kira”, which is made of bright colored fine woven fabric with traditional patterns.
Sports: The national sport of Bhutan is archery. Other traditional sports include Digor-a kind of shot put, darts, & wrestling.
Architecture: The castle-like Dzongs, with their gently tapering walls classic lines, large courtyards & beautiful galleries, are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
Living Culture: In almost every Dzongs (fortresses that house both the monastic & the Govt. administrative wings) there is an annual traditional festival (tsechus) that normally spans 3-4 days. Colorful & well choreographed mask dances are performed during the tsechus. Due to the nature of the lunar calendar, exact dates for tsechus vary from year to year
GETTING TO BHUTAN
Paro is the only International operational airport in Bhutan and it is connected by Druk Air & Bhutan Airlines. Druk Air is the national carrier of Bhutan, which operates flights Indian cities of New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Gaya, Bagdogra & Guwahati all these Indian cities are conveniently connected with Domestic Indian Carriers with almost all parts of India. Bhutan Airlines operates regularly from Kolkata only.
Bhutan is conveniently connected to India by surface through its south western border town of Phuentsholing and the nearest Indian towns from this border town of Phuentsholing are Hasimara, Alipurdwar, Jalpaiguri & Siliguri.
Bhutan is also connected to India by surface through its South Eastern Border of Samdrup Jonkar, and the nearest Indian city from this town of Samdrup Jonkar is Guwahati.
DISTANCE CHART WITH TRAVEL TIME
|Paro||Thimphu||65 Kms||1 hr 30 min|
|Haa||75 Kms||3 hrs|
|Phuentsholing||200 Kms||7 hrs|
|Thimphu||Phuentsholing||176 Kms||5 hrs|
|Wangdue Phodrang||70 Kms||2 hrs|
|Punakha||77 Kms||2 hrs 15 min|
|Punakha||Wangdue Phodrang||21 Kms||30 min|
|Paro||140 Kms||5 hrs|
|Bumthang||212 Kms||8 hrs|
|Trongsa||136 Kms||4 hrs 30 min|
|Gantey||70 Kms||3 hrs|
|Bumthang||Trongsa||68 Kms||2 hrs 30 min|
|Phuentsholing||Bagdogra (India)||170 Kms||5 hrs|
|Jaldapara (India)||35 Kms||1 hr|
|Lataguri (India)||110 Kms||2 hrs 30 min|
|Hasimara (India)||25 Kms||45 min|
|Darjeeling (India)||240 Kms||7 hrs|
|Kalimpong (India)||185 Kms||5 hrs|
|Gangtok (India)||255 Kms||8 hrs|
ENTRY FORMALITIES FOR INDIAN TOURIST
Indian Tourist traveling to Bhutan does not require any visa. However they need a travel Permit to visit Bhutan.
Permits: There are 02 types of PERMIT.
- Entry Permit: When you are entering Bhutan, you have to get the Entry Permit which can be procured at the entry point either in Paro airport (when travelling by flight) or in Phuentsholing Bhutan (when travelling overland either from Bagdogra or NJP). Entry permit cannot be made in advance as physical appearance is required at the immigration office. Entry permit is also a valid document to visit Thimphu and Paro.
- Route Permit: If you choose your Itinerary to visit places (Punakha, Wangdue, Bumthang, etc) beyond Paro and Thimphu, you need to have a Route Permit. We need the scanned copy of either your passport or Voter ID card to make your Route Permit in advance. Route permit will ONLY be made in Thimphu on the working days between 09.00 – 11.00 hrs.
Travel Documents Required With Presence of the Guest:
- Valid Indian passport (above 6 months validity) or Voters Identity Card (anyone) is a must for 18 years and above.
- Child below 5 years (Birth certificate is required).
- Child between 6 – 17 years academic School Identity Card is required.
- 04 recent passport size photographs for each guest.
Entering Bhutan by Flight: While collecting your airlines boarding pass you are given 02 forms at Druk air counter.
- Embarkation & Disembarkation Card (Blue Form): You are required to fill up the form completely and submit the same to the authority.the concern officer retains the disembarkation card and return the embarkation card back to you which is again required while exiting Bhutan.Please do not lose this card.
- Immigration form (Yellow Form): You are required to fill and submit this form at the immigration counter while getting the entry permit at Bhutan
- Bhutan Entry Permit:
- Passport Holder: Bhutan entry permit are stamped on the passport itself. It is must to carry your passport while traveling & taking inter point connection. You will not be allowed to leave the country without stamping the exit on it.
- Voter ID Card: Bhutan entry permit are issued separately on papers after verifying Voter ID card. This document must be carried while traveling & taking inter point connection. You are also advised to make photo copy of the paper permit and keep it in safe custody as you will not be allowed to leave the country without surrendering this paper permit in original. This permit is also required to make the pink permit for visiting any other area other than Thimphu & Paro.
Exiting Bhutan by Flight: While collecting your airlines boarding pass you are given 02 forms at the Druk air counter.
- Declaration from for Departing Passengers (Blue Form): You are required to fill it and submit at the immigration counter along with entry permit (original copy) and Embarkation card which is given to you while entering Bhutan.
- Immigration Form (Yellow form): You are required to fill up this immigration form (Yellow form) and this form has to be submitted at the immigration counter at the final port of Disembarkation, ie Bagdogra, Kolkata, Delhi and other airport connected by Druk air in India.
- Bhutan Entry Permit: This is the same Paper permit issued while entering Bhutan. You will not be allowed to leave the country without surrendering this paper permit in original.
- Declaration form basically states that you are not carrying any prohibited items out of Bhutan
- Embarkation form is the left over form while entering Bhutan.
- Yellow form is basically a self-declaration of items carried by you on flight.i.e.number of check in Baggage, hand baggage, duty & duty free items.
Entering Bhutan by Surface:
Bhutan Entry permit are issued from the immigration office at Phuentsholing only on working day (Monday-Friday) excluding Saturday, Sunday & Bhutan national holidays.
- You are required to visit the immigration office along with your guide / driver at the Bhutan entry gate to obtain your Bhutan entry permit (personal presence is a must for obtaining the permit).
- For surface traveler Bhutan entry permit are issued separately in papers after verifying the documents. This document must be carried while traveling and taking inner point connection. You are also advised to make photo copy of the paper permit and keep it in safe custody. As you will not be allowed to leave the country without surrendering the pink permit for visiting any other area other than Thimphu & Paro.
Exiting Bhutan by Surface:
While exiting from Phuentsholing you will have to surrender original entry permit which was given to you while entering Bhutan at immigration office, Karbandi, which is 5 km before Phuentsholing. You will not be allowed to leave the country without surrendering this paper permit in original, issued at Paro / Phuntsholing