Couple from Delhi amongst 16 Indians visiting Bhutan

Bhutan welcomes tourists from border gates after two and a half years

As Bhutan reopens its border gates on September 23, a couple from Delhi, India- 74-year-old Mohinder Kumar Rakheja and his 75-year-old wife Guddi are the first inbound travellers to pay the sustainable development fee (SDF), at the pedestrian terminal in Phuentsholing. The couple was on their 48th wedding anniversary trip to Bhutan.

Mohinder Kumar Rakheja is a retired electrical engineer and his wife is a retired teacher from Delhi. They received khaddar and a gift, stirred through the necessary procedures with a bright smile on their face as they were waiting for the gate to open. 

Mohinder Kumar Rakheja said it is their first time in Bhutan and they were waiting for the pedestrian terminal to open for a long time to spend their 48th wedding anniversary in the country.

“We are here to see the beautiful scenarios in Bhutan and to visit some places that are there on our list,” he said adding that they always had a dream of visiting Bhutan.

Guddi said they will be staying in Bhutan for six days and they had been waiting two days in Jaigaon for the opening of a pedestrian terminal.

Another SDF inbound traveller, Dharmendra Gulwani said he is here to meet his friend who is in Thimphu. He will be staying for five days for his business.

Meanwhile, even international tourists showed up at the pedestrian terminal at Phuentsholing to enter Bhutan.

A 45-year-old Jared is also the first foreigner from America to pay the new SDF of USD200 via the Phuentsholing pedestrian terminal.

“I heard about Bhutan and its cleanliness, it was an amazing experience to see such a clean country for him and his friends,” he said adding that they wanted to visit earlier, however, it was not possible for us due to the protocols.

Another American tourist John Deinn said that the increase in SDF is reasonable. “I was supposed to come in March 2020 but due to the gate closure I couldn’t visit the country.”

However, both sides of the border had a long queue to enter and exit the country. The officials and the residents from both sides warmly welcomed the people with khaddar and gifts as they entered the respective area.

 Most of the residents in Jaigaon entered Bhutan to meet their friends and relatives. And return to Jaigaon as they came for a few hours. Whereas, some entered just to roam, take pictures, and make videos at Phuentsholing town.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing