I started my Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan bike trip with my 4 friends from Bangalore.
We landed at Darjeeling's Bagdogra airport at night. At the airport we took a cab and went to Darjeeling city.
Darjeeling was covered with mist and fog; and the climate was soothing with tea plantations all across the roads.
We first checked in to the hotel, got fresh. And then moved to collect our bikes to kick start our Eastern India and Bhutan exploration trip.
Next day morning, we went to Sikkim (Gangtok) which was approximately 100 kms from Darjeeling.
The ride was full of fresh air, forested mountain valleys and long stretches of snow-clad mountain peaks.
We took the cable car ride in Gangtok and witnessed the stunning views of the picturesque Gangtok town. The ride covers a distance of one km in just seven minutes and allows one to enjoy a bird eye view. We boarded our ropeway ride from Tashiling station.
Later we explored many beautiful waterfalls which were close to our hotel.
We gave a miss to Rumtek Monastery which is located 24 kms south-east of Gangtok.
There are lot of markets in Sikkim which over local cuisine and sell many Tibetan goods.
Next day morning we went towards Ghantaghar to meet an agent who could arrange the entry permit Nathula.
The agent charged us INR 200 per vehicle. But you can directly get the permit in INR 100 if you have some extra time to spare. You will need to submit an photocopy of ID proof and a photo to obtain this permit.
Nathula permit is granted only to Indians. Tourists are not allowed on Nathula on Mondays and Tuesdays. Nathula remains closed in winters due to heavy snow.
Nathula is located around 56 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world.
We had to leave our bikes down and walk for some distance to get close to the border. Photography was not allowed near this region.
We had gone close to the international border from where we could see the Chinese soldiers on the other side.
While coming back from the border; we visited Baba Harbhajan Singh Shrine, Tsomgo Lake and Siva temple.
The stories around "Baba" Harbhajan Singh was very touching. Harbhajan Singh was a young Indian army soldier who died near the Nathula Pass in 1968. Legend has it that he had appeared in a dream of fellow soldiers who were patrolling the border, and had expressed the desire that a monument be built his memory. Since then the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir was built in this place and the mandir has acquired the status of a pilgrimage centre. As per local legend, spirit of Baba Harbhajan Singh is still guarding Indian armies at these high altitude region.
We later visited the Tsomgo Lake aka Changu Lake, which is one of the highest lakes in India. The lake lies at an altitude of 12,400ft and is frozen in winters.
It was a beautiful lake, and the lake water had the reflection of nearby peaks.
There was option for Yak riding near this lake.
We had to walk for some distance to visit the Shiva temple. The view of large Shiva statue in middle of trees and waterfalls was breathtaking.
We had stopped by many cascading waterfalls on our way.
Next day, we started our ride towards Bhutan via Siliguri. The ride was through foggy road and the visibility was very low.
En-route we visited Jaldapara National Park. This park is famous for one horned rhinoceros.
We stayed overnight at Jaigaon which was very close to Bhutan border. (The distance from Gangtok to Jaigaon is approximately 225 kms.)
Next morning took permit to enter Bhutan. We had to provide original id proof to get the permit.
Phuentsholing city is the first city that you get when entering Bhutan.
We visited some monasteries on the way. And stopped over for shopping.
If you have extra time then you can visit the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in Paro. It is a unique monastery is located in a cliffside.
You can also visit the 2nd longest suspension bridge of Bhutan at Punakha.
We returned back to Jaigaon at night.
Next day, we started our ride back to Darjeeling which was approximately 200 kms away. On the way back we visited Tiger Hills, Rock garden, botanical garden and Japanese temple.
The ride was full of waterfalls and surrounded by snow-clad mountain peaks.
You get amazing views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks and the valleys from Tiger Hill.
You can also board Toy train from Ghoom Station but it is very expensive.
Next day we returned back our bikes and took cab to reach Bagdogra. On the way back, we went to tea factory where a worker showed us the whole process of tea manufacturing.
We reached Bagdogra at 4:00 PM and later flew back to Bangalore.
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