Dec 2019.Bangalore – Bhutan.
Well, This was it.Finally what seemed like a whackish,whimsical idea few months back …a statement made in a simple Brag, now had to be done.The Bangalore to Bhutan Family Road Trip, was to happen.It was now or never. 🙂
Planning a Road Trip ,including kids & wife is never easy.Its just not about the origin or the destination.Its about which States to take, which hotels to stay, which highways to take, safety , carry to cash, budget of the trip ,pay for fuel in card etc..
Add to that Gov.t Rules (Fasttag compusory before Dec 15th, Modi Govts Mandate), Immigration for family and Vehicle, and obviously paperwork to ensure a foreign trip like passports, car insurance, etc etc…there can never be a complete laundry list.
Neverthless the plan was made to cover 2 countries, 5 states, same cities in both onward and return journey and thats it.Advance booking of hotels done. Thats another challenge as it involves a foreign country albeit who take INR currency.Well mostly set and the D-Day arrived 21st Dec Saturday.
We Coudnt plan an earlier date as kids 2nd term exams were completing, though we bunked my sons geography test. It was start from Bangalore 5:00am sharp. to reach Vijaywada before sunset.
We did start on time, with full josh and enthusiasm except for a minor panic attack which my wife suffered.Suddenly it dawned on her what we were about to embark, the distance, the long drives, health conditions etc. also the car was 6 years and 1 lac kms old..etc.Oh cmon, we planned this. so, after little starting trouble.left for the trip.Approx 6000kms of driving in the next 19 days.
We did Guntur on Day 1, Visakapatnam the next and finally Bhubaneswar in our 1st leg.The hotels in Guntur and Visak were ok and the HN 16 was pretty good except for few praffic issues around Tirupai. We reached Bhubaneswar for a 2 day break for Christmas with my Sisters family to move on.
Fasttag was an issue in many places, but as long as your PayTM balance is valid in your e-wallet, it was maangeable.
Christmas was great with family and friends but the lingering thought of starting again to complete the next leg till Phuentsholing, Bhutan kept us alert mostly.
26th Morning we left Bhubaneswar for Durgapur as that was un-chartered territory.Till Kharagpur we got NH16 which again is excellent with almost 6 lane highways baring some road works.
Durgapur we clocked by around 5:30 pm and stay was good in mostly the town area .NIT Durgapur was closeby which I passed the next day during my early morning run.Post Breakfast started for the longest drive of the onward trip.We took towards Siliguri using the Bihar circuit , preferring the national highway over state highway of West Bengal.
That was a long ardous journey as most parts of Bihar , Dumka Purnia stretch though a National highway but many parts with single lane and with overnight fog, long lines of Trucks made navigating that stretch difficult.Google maps says 11 hours but with stops and food and fuel , the entire journey can cover almost 13 – 14 hours.Bad Traffic Management made it worse.
Reached Siliguri for a late dinner around 10:00pm ….and next morning started off for Bhutan.We had a stop at Phuntsholing,Bhutan.That was a nice drive mostly till Jaigon, the border town of West Bengal and Bhutan amidst Tea Estates and looming mountain ranges of Bhutan.
All tiredness replaced with enthusiasm to enter a foreign land.We hit and entered Phuentlsholing and reached Druk Hotel.The clean and cool city in Bhutan was a super entry to a happy nation.
Phuentsholing is a bustling small towns with a cross mix of Bhutanese and Indian Culture.The Momos, Chai and cool temperatures really made us feel worth the long drive to reach here…but entry into Bhutan would have to wait till the Monday as the Immigration office opens only at 10 am on Monday.
Nevertheless Sunday spent in Phuentsholing was worth the selfies, the druk beer, the bathtub in the hotel and some much needed rest.
Monday using an agents help we got our immigration for family and also for car done and started off for the mountain driving towards Thimpu.Multiple stops for paper check and one major landslide delayed what was otherwise an exciting, adventurous and thrilling drive in the mountains of Bhutan.Temperatures falling towards zero the shill in the air and the excitement of reaching our destination was nail biting…literally.
We hit Thimpu ,Bhutan after 3000 kms of Driving at around 6:30 pm local and apparently 6:00pm IST. What an adventure to reach here with family amidst the highway dramas and trecherous hill drive.Phew.but worth it.
The last mile for me was to reach tigers nest, Paro Taktsang, the highest driving point is off the Thimpu – Paro highway to reach almost 8000 ft above sea level as the rest of the stretch is by foot to reach the monastry,Tigers Nest.
We reached Tigers Nest by Car,till the highest motorable point from where we had to walk/ trek upwards.My dream to Drive Till this point in Bhutan with family was done. 🙂
My Dream of Driving to Bhutan and Paro’s highest driving point was acheived.
The stay in Bhutan is pretty good,one calm and nice place to relax.Both Thimpu, Paro are awesome,breathtaking and beautiful.Jan is pretty cold almost touching minus 4 degress on new years day.My car Gear Fluids almost froze making me immobile for sometime till we manually pumped the gear suction pump and kept the engine rolling for almost 1 hour did the car show signs of recovery and started driving again.
The Druk Thimpu is the oldest hotel in Bhutan but very well maintained and with room heaters and beautiful bath tubs ,the family and myself had a great time.
Bhutan was conquered by road by me and the simplicity and ease of the people conquered our hearts.Cheers to the happy nation.
Our Drive back was long and tiresome but the sweet spirit of victory kept us going till we reached back Bangalore using same route of Thimpu, Siliguri, Durgapur, Bhubaneswar, Visakapatnam, Guntur and Bangalore.
The return didnt trouble us with the fastag issues like our onward journey and barring some really very bad stretch of road near the famour town of Shantiniketan,West Bengal, rest of the Drive was fine.
Reached Bangalore on 9th Jan instead of 8th as there was a national Bandh called on 8th when we were in Guntur, So we had to stay over one more day.But finally after 19 days, 2 Countries , 10 cities and 6000 kms we had completed our Bangalore to Bhutan Roadtrip successfully.
What a beginning to the new Decade.Welcome 2020 🙂