Phuentsholing (Chhukha District)

Phuentsholing Bhutan, lying at an altitude of 300 m above the sea level is a border town in south western Bhutan. It is the main frontier town and a thriving commercial centre. Phuentsholing serves as the convenient entry/exit point and also the most important link to visit the Indian state of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam. Phuentsholing lies opposite the Indian town of Jaigaon, and cross-border trade has resulted in a thriving local economy. Phuentsholing is connected to the major Indian Railways at NJP, Hasimara and New Alipurduar by road, the nearest one being the Hasimara Station. The nearest Indian Airport in the Bagdogra Airport.

Phuentsholing is more of a entry and exit point than a place of sightseeing. However, travelers traveling to Bhutan, who arrive at IXB or other nearby Indian towns or vice versa have to halt a night at Phuentsholing, considering the 6 hrs drive to the next station in Bhutan and the Bhutan visa/ permit formalities. In spending your night in Phuentsholing, travelers have certain time whereby they can go around. The followings sights and land marks would be of interest.

Crocodile Centre, Phuentsholing

Crocodile Centre

Known by many names such as Phuentsholing Crocodile Centre, Amochu Crocodile Breeding Centre, Gharial Conservation Centre or Norgay Crocodile Breeding is located behind the RSTA Building near the Norgay Cinema Hall. It is around 5 minutes’ drive from the heart of the Phuentsholing Town and is accessible by vehicle till the gate. The conservation center was first established in 1976 and today it occupies 0.6 acres of land. This Centre is managed and owned by the Department of Forestry and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan. The conservation centre was started with 4 Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and 5 Marsh crocodiles brought from Royal Manas National Park. At its initial stage the centre was started in small pond. Later in the year 2003 the centre was improved in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Division and WWF. With the improved facility, with an expansion of almost three times as compared to what it was before. In the year 2004, the Country of Nepal gifted two male Gharials as a state gift. The Objective of the centre is to breed the reptiles and then release into nature to increase its population in its natural habitat. Gharials are listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The crocodiles are fed every other day at noon and this can be an interesting sight should you be there at the right time.

The Zangtopelri Lhakhang
(Heaven of Guru Rinpoche)

 is a small temple located in the heart of the Phuentsholing Town. This is a private temple and was built in the 1990’s by Dasho Aku Tongmi. Dasho Aku Tongmi was a renowned musician, who contributed in composing the National Anthem of Bhutan. The temple represents the heaven of the Guru Rinpoche. The ground floor of the temple consists of statues of eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha’s life. The nest floor contains eight Bodhisattvas, statues of Avalokiteshvara and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The top floor has the statue of Amitabha. In the early morning hours you can catch a glimpse of the Buddhist Monks praying in the temple. The temple is the all-time favorite of the elderly people and you can see a lot of locals visiting the temple to worship and pay their respect. The temple’s soothing premises also serves as children play ground and a place to relax for the locals. The trees surrounding the premises of the temple add to the beauty and the soothing sensation experienced in being around the temple.

The Zangtopelri Lhakhang, Phuentsholing

The Bhutan Gate: This gate separate Bhutan and India, though it is not much to see, however this could be your first photograph of Bhutan if you are entering Bhutan via land.

The Bhutan Gate, Phuentsholing

Kharbandi Goemba

The monastery was founded by the Royal Grand Mother, Ashi Phuntsho Choden in the year 1967. The Monastery lies at an altitude of 400 m. The monastery contains paintings on the life of Buddha, statues of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. A fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and surrounding plains can be seen from the Monastery garden.