I’ve previously entered Nepal from the West and the South, and also by flight, but this is the first time I’ve come from the East. I took a bus from Kalimpong, leaving at 5:30 am to beat the heat. Luckily it was drizzly and not really hot, which is unusual for late April. From the bus stand in Panitanki on the Indian side, I took a cycle rickshaw, first to the Indian Immigration counter, then across the bridge to the Nepali one (local rate is Rs20.)
The border crossing at Kakarbhitta (also spelled Kakarvitta) was uncongested when I was there and the officials were pretty easy-going. There were no trucks crossing at that time (9am), but coming back, I saw a big line of parked trucks, so presumably they have certain hours they are allowed to cross. Most of the traffic was cycle rickshaws, pedestrians, bicycles and scooters, with a few cars.
The Indian office is in an obscure building set back from the road about 50 meters, on a dirt road just before the police check point. They have an officer who will meet you and show you the way to the window where you get your exit stamp. They need a photocopy of your passport and Indian visa going out and coming back in.
The Immigration Office on the Nepal side is a big brick building, new-looking from the outside, grungy and rather empty on the inside, evidently built in anticipation of large groups. A small group of monks that was heading to Bhutan came by for their exit stamps while I was there, but no one else.
Entering Nepal, you have to fill out a couple of basic forms and provide a passport size photo. To my surprise, I was able to pay the visa fee in Indian rupees. My host in Kakarbhitta was going to meet me at the immigration office with dollars, which I thought I would need and couldn’t get in Kalimpong, where I was the night before. I only decided that day to do the border run, based on the weather reports, though I should have been prepared as I knew I would be going sometime soon. Anyway, a 15-day visa cost me 1,700 INR. It would have been $25 USD, if I had those. There is a foreign exchange guy near the Immigration Office on the Indian side, but he only had Nepalese rupees, so I didn’t bother, even though he said they would be accepted.
I’m on a visa that allows me to stay no more than 180 days at a time, so I spend a few months out of India in the winter (usually Nepal or Thailand), and then make a border run in April or May. As the weather gets hotter, I head higher and higher in the Himalayas to cool down.
NB: There is a sign at the border that says that possession of and exchanging or attempting to exchange 500 and 1000 (the sign hasn’t been updated to 2000) rupee notes from India are illegal in Nepal. Smaller notes and coins can be used here, at least in the border towns, so be sure to change your large notes before heading to Nepal.