Kalimpong is a scenic town located in Darjeeling in West Bengal. It is a hill station in the Lesser Himalayas also called the Mahabharata range. The town is located at an average elevation of 1,250 meters (4,101 ft) above sea level.
History of Kalimpong
The town was initially known as Kaleebung and later on, the name was converted to Kalimpong. There are quite a few stories behind the town’s name. Some people believe that it is derived from a fibrous plant Kaulim found in this region. However, according to K.P. Tamsang, author of ‘The Untold and Unknown Reality about the Lepchas’, the name Kalenpung is the root word for the Kalimpong, which is the fibrous plant found here. This in Lepcha means ‘Hillock of Assemblage’. Other theories suggest that the name has been derived from a place in Bhutan. Moreover it is also said that Kalimpong means a place where tribesmen gather and organize traditional tribal games.
Kalimpong is located on an overlooking bridge of River Teesta, and is fast becoming a popular tourist destination of the region. Being close to the well known tourist town of Darjeeling gives it an advantage. The town is quite close to the Indo-China border and is also the base of the 27 Mountain Division of the Indian Army. In earlier times, Kalimpong has played the role of a gateway of trade between Tibet and India, which was closed after the war between India and China, and China’s annexation of Tibet.
There are many things about Kalimpong which makes it perfect for holidays. Kalimpong offers panoramic views of the great Himalayan ranges and of the Kanchenjunga peak. The best thing every traveler feels about visiting Kalimpong is quiet atmosphere and the peaceful ambience. Kalimpong is also known for its educational institutions, of which many were established during the British colonial period.
People & Culture of Kalimpong
Kalimpong town is a religious centre of Buddhism. The Buddhist monastery Zang Dhok Palri Phodang is home to many monks who take their religious teachings to the people searching for divinity and peace. Horticulture is also important to Kalimpong. It has a flower market famous for orchids. The destination is home to many nurseries, which export Himalayan grown flower bulbs, tubers and rhizomes.
Things to do in Kalimpong
Monasteries and churches are tourist hotspots of Kalimpong. Of the many monasteries, the most significant are the Thongsha Gumpha
, Tharpa Choling Monastery
and the Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang Gompa. In fact, the Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang Gompa Monastery
is known to have a number of rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. Popular churches in Kalimpong include the Catholic Church
and St Theresa Church
. Other must-visit sites for tourists are the Neora National Park
, Deolo Hill
and Mangal Dham
. For the adventurous lot, hiking is also an option.
Food & Shopping in Kalimpong
Markets of Kalimpong are flooded with traditional handicrafts and some of the stalls here exhibit ancient arts. One must-visit shopping destination for tourists is the Kalimpong Arts & Crafts Centre
. The idyllic town serves standard Tibetan fare such as momos, thukpa and tea. There are a few restaurants located near the popular sightseeing attractions in Kalimpong, which serve local non-vegetarian and vegetarian delicacies. However, not many restaurants are open late and tourists are advised to reach restaurants by early evening to enjoy a leisurely dinner.
Travelling to Kalimpong
The best way to reach Kalimpong
is by hiring a taxi or jeep from Darjeeling. The Bagdogra airport (80 km) is the nearest airport to Kalimpong. The town is also connected by train but tourists will need to get off at Siliguri, 66 km away, and hire a car to reach the destination.
Travelling within Kalimpong
Kalimpong has many attractions to explore and the best way to do that is hiking or walking around the town. Hiring a bicycle is also advisable. To have a more organised tour of the town, tourists can book Kalimpong packages
Accommodation options in Kalimpong
There are a few budget hotels in Kalimpong
. Most of them are located a few kilometers away from the main town and provide basic facilities for tourists. A few hotels also organise guided tours for tourist to explore Kalimpong. Since options are not many, travellers are advised to book their hotel well in advance.
The best time to visit Kalimpong is from September to November.