Kalimpong was once the headquarters of a Bhutanese governor. The word 'kalim' means King's Minister and 'pong' is the stronghold. This beautiful hill town of north Bengal can be reached either from
Siliguri or Darjeeling. Kalimpong is secluded and tucked into a corner of the Darjeeling umbrella. Kalimpong offers a quiet and relaxed holiday, against the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga. This
beautiful hill station is situated between Gangok and Siliguri.
Kalimpong is surrounded by immense natural beauty with dotted tea and orchid gardens, monasteries and
colonial cottages. This hill town is inhabited by Nepali, Bhutanese, and
Bengali with fusion culture and heritage.
A journey to Kalimpong through Darjeeling is mesmerizing as the road drops from Ghoom to Teesta bazaar through the lush
green forests and tea gardens. It is most picturesque hill station in the Shivalik hills in the Himalayas - vast meadows covered with a riot of wild flowers, sparkling brooks and rivulets meandering lazily by
the terraced fields. It is ablaze with color throughout the year with rich
flora. Particularly, orchids are famous here for their infinite variety as well as their delicate tints. This scenic
beauty can be attributed to gushing rivers in the vicinity and bursts of green
forests with exotic flowers and rare varieties of plants.
Getting to Kalimpong
The nearest railway stations are Siliguri junction and New Jalpaiguri. The nearest airport is Siliguri's Bagdogra airport
which is around 80 km away. Taxis can be hired at the airport to reach Kalimpong.
Buses are less frequent, slower and uncomfortable. On the other hand jeeps are quite frequent. All the means of
road transport leave from the bazaar bus stand except taxis.
Kalimpong sight seeing
Gompas: Tharpa Choling Gompa was established in 1922 and belongs to
the Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Thongsa Gompa, of Bhutanese Monastery, is the oldest monastery in the area and was founded in 1692 in the lower hill.
Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa, at the end of the ridge, was built in the mid 1970s at Durpin Dara Hill and was
consecrated by the Dalai Lama. A rare collection of impressive paintings can be noticed in the prayer hall and three-dimensional mandala. Durpin Dara hill is a big military camp which boasts of an impressive mountain view.
The MacFarlane Church: MacFarlane Church founded in 1880 by Dr. John A. Graham, is a sprawling educational institution built on Deolo Hill. A testimony of the Scottish missionaries' influence and a monument of Kalimpong's diverse history, the church is one of the tourist spots of Kalimpong.
Deolo Hill: is perfect picnic spot; replete with a splendid tourist
lodge. The early morning view of the sun lighting up the Khangchendzonga massif
is a heart stopping sight which in itself makes the visit memorable.
Zong Dhog Palri Fo Brang monastery: Zong Dhog Palri Fo Brang monastery is situated near Durpin Dara. Tharpa Choeling monastery is situated on Tirpai hill is situated on Tirpai hill and belongs to the yellow hut sect of
Pedong monastery: Pedong monastery is of Bhutanese origin and was built
around 1837. Thongsa monastery is also of Bhutanese origin and is the oldest
monastery in the region. Pedong monastery is just few kilometers away from historical
Bhutanese fort of Damsang.
Durpin Dara: Do not miss thepanoramic view of the region
along with the Teesta and Relli rivers from the observatory point at Durpin Dara. Floriculture aficionados can explore the many flowers nurseries in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong's shopping spot
Kalimpong Arts and Craft Center boasts of carpet weaving, dyeing,painting, tailoring, leather craft and carpentry works and seeks to promote the work of local artisans and craftsmen. The Gouripur House was the summer retreat
of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Paintings, statues, wall hanging,embroidered bags, Kalimpong tapestry bags, purses, copperware and scrolls - you
can find these aplenty. Locally made lollipops are famous here. The locals here produce a special kind of cheese. Ginger and honey are definitely worth buying.Tibetan jewellery and artifacts can be found in the streets of Dambar Chowk.
Among Kalimpong's best rated hotels are:
- The Soods Garden Retreat
- Kalimpong Park Hotel
- The Silver Oaks
- Hotel Sonar Bangla
- Dew Drop Home Stay
- Himalayan Hotel
- Samthar Farmhouse
Kalimpong tourist activities
There are plenty of options for trekking and walking in Kalimpong's extensive tea estate area. The famous trek route is through Relli, Pankhasari, Neora and Rochella. Teesta Bazaar which is 16 km from Kalimpong offers river rafting opportunities on Teesta River. While in Kalimpong, do not miss the Samthar Plateau which is at a distance of
80 km. It offers a picturesque view of the snow-covered peaks, mountain streams as well as a breathtaking sunrise and sunset. Avid trekkers can walk through the Neora National Park and climb up the RacheLa tri-junction to catch a glimpse
of the Chola Range.
Kalimpong exports many flowers including orchids and is India's largest producer of gladiolas. If you are visiting in October, you can witness the flower festival. Watch how silkworms are bred and silk is produced in the Sericulture Research Institute.