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Gelephu is located in Bhutan
Location in Bhutan
Coordinates: 26°52′14″N 90°29′8″E / 26.87056°N 90.48556°E / 26.87056; 90.48556Coordinates: 26°52′14″N 90°29′8″E / 26.87056°N 90.48556°E / 26.87056; 90.48556
Country Flag of Bhutan.svg Bhutan
District Sarpang District
Gelephu Thromde July 2010
 • Dasho Thrompon Tikaram Kafley
 • Dasho Drangpon Dasho Karma Dorji
 • Urban 4.45 sq mi (11.52 km2)
Population (2005)
 • City 9,199
Time zone BTT (UTC+6)

Gelephu (Dzongkha: དགེ་ལེགས་ཕུ་; Wylie: dge-legs-phu; also known as Gelyephug) (IATA: GLU) is a town in Sarpang District in Bhutan.[1] It is located on the Indian border, about 30 km to the east of Sarpang, the Dzongkhag (District) headquarters,[2] and has a population of 9,199 as per 2005 census.[3] It is one of the road entry points into Bhutan from India. Phuntsholing to its west and Samdrup Jongkhar to its east are two other road entry points into Bhutan.


History of Gelephu dates back to 1960s when primitive settlement was shifted from the banks of Mao Chhu to the present area, which used to be known as Hati Sahar (Elephant infested place).[4]

Planning area[edit]

Gelephu Thromde has 11.52 km2 planning boundary area which can be increased further. It has 6 sub zones (Demkhong)listed as 1. Trashiling, 2. Namkhaling, 3. Jampeling, 4. Rabtengling, 5. Samdrupling, 6. Sonam Gatsel. Core market area is very close to the Indo-Bhutan border. Urban Planner Ashish Kumar Chauhan is the core planner while delineating the boundaries of Industrial Area Plan and Local Area Plan 4 & 5.[5] Gelephu is located at about 30 km to the east of Sarpang, the Dzongkhag Headquarters. Though, Sarpang is the administrative centre for the Dzongkhag, Gelephu, due to various factors, has prospered and developed as a market town serving the hinterland.

The Sarpang-Gelephu Zone offers unique opportunities for Bhutan, as well as for the citizens within the services catchment area. The geographical setting of the town with relatively flat terrain, close proximity and well established connectivity with India, and its location as a nodal connection for the central parts of Bhutan, makes the place one of the preferred locations for future development.

The Structure Plan for Gelephu lays down the precinct plan, road network, open space system and amenities system. It reviews the existing scenario of Gelephu and the potentials and constraints from which future possibilities emerge. It explains the proposals for action from which the Structure Plan of Gelephu will be composed. These are then illustrated through maps and diagrams. It also includes implementation and management strategies, investment plan and development control regulations for coherent growth of the town. The Development Control Regulations have been included as a part of the Structure Plan to support the proposals of the plan through the introduction of regulations and procedures. The jurisdiction of these regulations includes the area under the Gelephu Thromde, including Urban Control Zone.Gelephu is envisioned as a Growth Center for south-central Bhutan serving a series of smaller settlements, or Service Centers, like Sarpang, Damphu, Zhemgang etc.

The Structure Plan envisions an impressive entrance or a ‘Gate way’ into Gelephu through a portal from India. It is proposed to be a multi-modal terminal headingTrongsa in North, Sarpang and Damphu to West, and proposed Sipsoo-Daipham National Highway towards East. The proposed Sarpang – Gelephu development corridor will serve as the backbone for a Special Economic Zone. It proposes the establishment of Dry Port and a Free Trade Zone as a part of the Special Economic Zone.

Another theme of the Gelephu Plan is to develop inter-linked open-green spaces for use as recreation, sports, walking, cycling, exercising and play gardens that can provide an excellent opportunity to promote planned growth of Gelephu unlike many other settlements.[4]

Urban recreational park[edit]

One of the main themes of Gelephu urban development is to interlink open-green spaces for use as recreation, sports, walking, cycling, exercising and play gardens. Open space systems have become an integral part of town planning as a result of the intense demand for outdoor recreation and a growing concern for conservation. Open spaces have a crucial role in the urban life, since they act as breathing spaces in the dense urban fabric, or a place of recreation and retreat for the urban population. Location: Samdrupling Demkhong adjacent to Royal Boulevard Road (NH-4) Area: 60 Acres Existing Plantation: Teak Proposed Plantation: Evergreen trees with existing teak Proposed Activity: Recreational Park Existing scenario The existing teak plantation area along the Royal Boulevard road provides a huge potential to plan as a Town Central Park with aviary. This would turn out to be a regional level recreation centre as well as make active use of the existing plantation area which otherwise have a possibility of being encroached upon by urbanization. Being centrally located near to the proposed Town Hall, Public Library, it has the value added clubbing to enhance provisions of other services for varieties of children’s play equipment and facilities. However, the thick teak plantation provides an avenue for the youth to indulge into substance abuse and other illegal act since the area is covered with thick bushes. More so is the fact that during winters, this teak sheds leaves and give shabby outlook instead of presenting clean, green and serene environment.

Proposed Park The vegetation for Gelephu region could be classified as tropical forest with some broad-leaf evergreen vegetation. Having the intense rainfall, the region is dominated by hard wood trees and cash crops like acruenut (Domashing). The thick teak vegetation along the Gelephu-Trongsa Highway located near Sheittikhare Chhu provides a prime scope for conservation and economic generation if developed through an integrated approach. Concepts Amusement : Variety of playing equipment will enhance the amusement of the park. Interaction : Park will act as a medium of interaction between different age groups. Environmental : Flora culture will create Breezing environment inside and outside the park. Aesthetical : Traditional sculptures and architecture will be prime aesthetical attractions. Freshness : Herb and flower plants will create blossom and freshness inside the park. Psychological : Pleasing environment of the park will help people to fit them mentally. Physical : Fresh oxygen will help to increase the resistance power of the people. Educational : Different fruit trees and plant will help kids to learn through nature.[6]

Industrial service center[edit]

The industrial site is identified for the medium & small scale industrial related activities, service related activities and workshop and showroom nearby the Army Welfare Distillery. As per Gelephu Structure Plan-2005 it is already marked as ISC area along the Gelephu – Sarpang Highway. Since airport is already came into existence and very soon Dry Port and Multi-Mode Transit Hub will be planned on ground so this all activities will going to influence the major activities regarding the development in the city. Around 54.21 acres of land had been identified for the development of the Industrial Service Center along the Gelephu-Sarpang Highway as per the statements of the presently Senior Urban Planner Ashish Kumar Chauhan.,[7] Gelephu Thromde. ISC plan got changes due to declaration of 'No Construction Zone' by Department of Civil Aviation otherwise it was planned for 84 Acres of land as per the Gelephu Structure Plan-2005.[8]

Trade and commerce[edit]

Location of Gelephu is quite favorable for cross-border trade between India and Bhutan. Indo-Bhutan Royal entrance gate is opening a vast opportunity for the business and development between the two countries. From that Indo-Bhutan border gate Bongaigaon, the sixth largest city of Assam, emerging as business node for the economics affairs i.e. business dealing & logistic supports is 78 km away.


(for a complete entry, see Gelephu Airport) An Airport in Gelephu was initially planned in the early 2000s. The plan faced major obstacles in construction, including a lack of willing contractors to bid on the project.[9] Work finally began in July 2011, with a completion date set for the end of April 2012. Gelephu's runway was inaugurated by Lyonchen Jigme Yoser Thinley (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་འོད་ཟེར་འཕྲིན་ལས་) on 25 October 2012 [10] but has yet to become certified for operation. There are currently no buildings at the airport and it is accessed by a gravel road.

Army Welfare Project (AWP)[edit]

Bhutan's modern liquor industry was established in 1976 with the AWP as the only distillery manufacturing high quality potable liquor in Bhutan. AWP is a company incorporated under the Companies Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan mainly in the business of bottling a range of alcoholic beverages such as whisky, rum, gin, etc. The AWP is constantly growing its portfolio of brands from blended whiskies to brandy and white spirits to cater the needs of a wide variety of customers particularly in the huge Indian market and to expand its market base internationally. AWP has its Head Office in Phuentsholing, Bhutan.

The AWP has strong presence with more than 18 well-established brands in the liquor market. The main strengths of AWP today lies in its in-house technical expertise (blend development) and good quality natural spring water which is a key input in the production of liquor products. AWP's commitment to environment protection, Bhutan's green credentials and its ambience for maturing high quality spirits are some of the strengths for developing premium brands in the region and achieve organic growth in this category.Presently AWP Gelephu has around 18.44 acre area which include the water treatment plant and manufacturing unit and a guest house.Building AWP brand portfolio in emerging markets and divesting in non-alcoholic products are key strategic objectives.[11]


Construction development Corporation Limited is a Public Sector Company with 100% shares owned by the Royal Government of Bhutan.After the merger of Gelephu workshop to Hesothangkha in 1996-1997 and till recently, maintenance if its huge workshop structure and compound was neglected and it did not receive that much importance and priority to maintaining operation in the south. T he facilities and workshop structure/buildings are in currently dilapidated condition except for Lungta Auto Center [12] which provides comprehensive auto services. After the revival, initiatives have been taken up to repair and rehabilitate the workshop buildings/facilities gradually in a phased manner to curtail loss and avoid need for injection of huge investment. It caters to 3 Field Division i.e. Sarpang, Phuentsholing and Zhemgang Field Division. Jurisdiction wise, it covers far flung central region of Panbang, Dagana and Zhemgang. Two field workshops located at Sarpang and Mangdechu provide field support services.[13]

Central Regional Referral Hospital[edit]

The hospital is situated near the Drungkhag Court and it caters not just to the people of Gelephu, but it is also a Tertiary care hospital and referral center for Sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel Districts. The current hospital complex was built in the 1970s and a new state of the art 150 bedded hospital is under construction just opposite to the hospital. At the moment, the hospital has 2 Medical Specialists, 1 Surgeon, 1 Paediatrician, 1 Gynaecologist, 2 Ophthalmologists and 4 General Duty Medical Officers.

Bus stand[edit]

The bus stand is located nearby the Bank of Bhutan which is 1.0 km from the India-Bhutan Border gate. It has bus services for the Thimphu, SamdrupJonkhar, Sarpang, Phuentsholing etc.

Taxi stand[edit]

The taxi stand is located nearby the Post Office, Gelephu. Since nearby the present taxi stand there is a Buddhist temple as well as a park. So Gelephu Thromde have plan regarding the development of that area as park for social welfare.


  • Hotel Khamsang,[14] Hotel Tshenden, Tropical,Chorten and KUKU are the few hotels cum Bar in Gelephu. Apart from these there are many Indian hotels like Hotel Ashoka,Prasad & laxhmi.


External links[edit]