|Gewogs||Phuentsholing, Sampheling Gewogs|
|Elevation||961 ft (293 m)|
|Time zone||BTT (UTC+6)|
Phuntsholing (Dzongkha: ཕུན་ཚོགས་གླིང་, Wylie: phun tshogs gling, Roman Dzongkha: Phüntsho'ling), or Phuentsholing, is a border town in southern Bhutan and is the administrative seat (dzongkhag thromde) of Chukha District. The town occupies parts of both Phuentsholing Gewog and Sampheling Gewog. Phuentsholing adjoins the Indian town of Jaigaon, and cross-border trade has resulted in a thriving local economy. The town has the headquarters of the Bank of Bhutan.
In 2005, Phuentsholing had a population of 20,537.
On 5 April 1964, reformist Prime Minister Jigme Dorji was assassinated in Phuntsholing by monarchist cadres as the king lay ill in Switzerland. The Dorji family was subsequently put under close watch.
Architecture and culture
The India-Bhutan border at Phuntsholing clearly separates two very different peoples and cultures. Jaigaon across the border is larger, bustling and loud, similar to many other West Bengal centres of commerce, albeit with many Bhutanese shoppers. Phuntsholing is uniquely more urban than other Bhutanese towns as it is the Bhutan financial, industrial and trading capital. It has been affected a little by the neighbouring culture, but is distinctly far more quiet and orderly than its neighbour.
As the majority of goods traded go into Bhutan through Phuntsholing, the town is the gateway to Bhutan for trade with India.
Indian Border Crossing
The border is separated by a long wall with a single Bhutanese gate. Locals can sometimes even cross without being asked for papers. Tourists form India, Bangladesh and Maldives do not need visa to enter Bhutan but have to show proof of identity such as passport or voter ID card and apply for a permit at Phuntsholing to enter Bhutan. Other foreigners need a visa presented by a hired registered tour guide. The entry gate into the town is manned by the Indian Army and Bhutanese Army guards. The terrain inclines soon after the gate.
The town does not have an airport or railway. Indian Railways has railway stations nearby. A 20km railway track has been planned from the nearest railway station Hashimara in North Bengal to Phuntsholing.
Siliguri is the nearest large city in India. New Jalpaiguri and New Alipurduar are nearest large railway junctions. Bus are available from the towns in north Bengal. Buses are operated by both travel Indian and Bhutanese government operators. Once at Phuntsholing, the Lateral Road gives travelers access to the rest of Bhutan.
From almost anywhere in the city, one can see the road to Thimphu snaking up the hillside, and in the evening it is easy to see the headlights of distant vehicles heading towards the capital. Opposite the big ground PSA is the road that connects rest of cities of Bhutan.The Lateral Road, Bhutan's main highway, begins in Phuntsholing and winds some 557 kilometres (346 mi) to Trashigang in the east.
- Pelden, Sonam (2010-05-07). "Cabinet Approves Thromdes". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
- Dorji, Kezang (2010-11-26). "LG Elections Finalized". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
- "Chiwogs in Chukha" (PDF). Election Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- "Bhutan: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
- Ram Rahul (1997). Royal Bhutan: a political history. Vikas. pp. 94–95. ISBN 81-259-0232-5.
- "Directions from Phuentsholing to Trashigang". Google maps. Google. Retrieved 2011-07-25.[dead link]