|Our September 2005 trip started in
Kolkata (Calcutta) where we took a city tour that included Mother
Theresa's House, a boat trip
on the River Ganges at sunset, before flying North to Bagdogra and then travelling
by bus to the wonderful town of Darjeeling which sits at 7500 feet, high
in the Himalayan foothills. Our stay here was at the
Here we were lucky to get a very special privileged trip on the Himalayan Toy Train, from Darjeeling to Ghoom.
This is a 2 foot gauge steam railway that was built in 1881, and has run ever since.
After a few days exploring the area, including a 4 am rise to see the sunrise at Tiger Hill, with it's views of the high snow capped mountains. Instead of standing on a cold hillside, we were shown inside a very comfortable viewing lounge but unfortunately the sun was not visible that morning, so we saw only mist and clouds. Next morning it was all very different as the sun came out revealing the mountains of the Himalayan Range with Kanchenjunga (8598 metres - 27943 feet) at centre stage.
Next stop was Kalimpong for a few days at the Silver Oaks Hotel, before crossing the Coronation Bridge and a long day's drive through the tea plantations of West Bengal, to finally enter the Land of the Thunder Dragon - Bhutan, at the only entry point by road, at the town of Phuentsholing.
From Phuentsholing, the road winds north over the southern foothills, through lush forested valleys and around the rugged north-south ridges of the inner Himalayas to the central valleys of Thimphu and Paro. We travelled North to Paro, in an eleven hour, 110 mile bus trip, passing over a series of high passes on narrow twisting roads, reaching a summit of 8350 feet before descending to Bhutan's second city Paro at a mere 7500 feet.
In Paro we visited various Zhongs and Stupas climbing on foot to almost 9500 feet to view the incredible Tigers Nest Monastery perched high on a cliff.
Finally we visited the capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu. Returning to Paro we finally left the country via the only airport in the country, in a 'thrill seekers' take-off that snakes between the spectacular high mountains and up into the clouds.
Our trip then returned us to the Taj Bengal Hotel in Kolkata for a final day, before flying home.
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We visit all of these countries as travellers and make no political comment on the way they are governed.
Last Updated - Tuesday, 24. November 2009 22:08:50