Must-see International Borders

20 November  |  Listicles

India dominates the sub-continent but our neighbouring countries also offer their own unique cultures and experiences, some shared across borders. We see these borders as dotted lines on maps, a result of political negotiations and cultural generalisations. Take a physical trip to the real borders of India and catch a glimpse at life in these fascinating transit points.

  1. Jaigaon–Phuentsholing

It is common for residents of Assam’s border villages to step across to Bhutan for a picnic or two, but the main India Bhutan border crossing lies in Phuntsholing – the border counterpart to the West Bengal town of Jaigaon. Despite being just a matter of metres, the well organised and quiet Bhutanese town a contrast to the typical Indian buzz of Jaigaon. Indians do not need complex paperwork to enter Bhutan, so you can enjoy a peek into one of the most isolated countries in the world.

  1. Rann of Kutch

The Rann of Kutch is a desolate eco-system that is part of the Thar Desert and falls on the border with Pakistan’s Sindh province. The Rann becomes a wet salty marshland during the monsoon months and is home to some rare species. It is a breeding area for flamingos and also provides habitat to the greatly endangered Indian Wild Ass. The international border falls on the northern part of the Rann of Kutch.

  1. Dawki

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India shares a 4100-km long border with Bangladesh. One of the best border towns on this long border is Dawki in Meghalaya, famed for its crystal clear rivers and streams and for being a hub of freshwater scuba diving. The river Umngot acts as a natural boundary of sorts between the two countries, along with the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, which give way to the plains of Sylhet. The presence of the tribes living on both sides of the border is an example of how young international boundaries can divide old communities.

  1. Nathu-La

Nathu-La Pass on the northern border of Sikkim is one of the most popular and historic mountain passes and today acts as a stage of interaction between India and China. The trip to Nathu-La itself is a great experience as you climb up to more than 4000 metres above sea level, as you negotiate narrow roads on the sides of mountains. Tsongo Lake is another popular attraction on the way.

  1. Dhanushkodi

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Until 1964, Dhanushkodi was the cross point from the Indian side to Sri Lanka, a ferry service that was part of a larger rail network between the two countries. The Rameshwaram Cyclone of 1964 changed that and Dhanushkodi now lies abandoned, at the tip of the sub-continent. The Dhanushkodi beach and the ghost town are now rather offbeat attractions in the Rameshwaram route. One of the highlights of a Dhanushkodi visit is the road from Rameshwaram to the town, a straight stretch with the ocean on both sides.

  1. Kakarbhitta and Pashupatinagar

The IndiaNepal border stretches from Garhwal to Darjeeling districts. If you are travelling from India to Nepal by road, the most common border crossing is Kakarbhitta, a border town on the Nepalese side which is around 35 kms from New Jaipalguri. Kakarbhitta is a busy town and close to an airport, where you can catch flights to Kathmandu. The border crossing from Darjeeling to Pashupatinagar is another popular site, involving a scenic route through thick pine forests.

An escape to the border frontiers need to be planned in detail but you can also step out for a weekend to catch a break in resorts near Bangalore. There are jungle resorts in Kabini and for something close you can opt for a Nandi Hills resort for a rejuvenating weekend. And once you get a taste of the adventure you can start planning your border visits with your travel buddies.

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