Kalimpong – The hill town of monasteries and spectacular murals !
Nestles between the Delo and Durpindara Mountains, amidst dese greeneries of fir and the beauty of the orchids, lies the calm, tranquil and peaceful Kalimpong. It sports neither the liveliness of Darjeeling nor is proud of the variety of tea estates, yet this pristine hill station has managed to draw tourists for ages. Sprawling along a ridge that overlooks the roaring Teesta and within sight of Kanchendzonga this town boasts of Buddhist Monastries, Colonial architecture and a bubbling nursery industry.
Recordedly, the earliest development in Kalimpong was a result of the wool trade with Tibet across the Jelep La Pass. The Chogyals of Sikkim were the earliest recorded rulers of Kalimpong, followed by the Bhutanese and then the British. It was added as a partof India only at the time of independence.Dotted with Buddhist monasteries dating back to the ancient times, centuries old churches and exquisite revered temples, Kalimpong is the place where the populace is mainly of Nepali origin.
During the Bhutanese rule, Kalimpong was the headquarters of the Governor. The name is said to have been derived from this fact itself. A kaleen is a minister of a king and Pong refers to his fort. Another version goes that the name is derived from the local Koulim tree Dalingkot. Further according to the lepchas, KAlimpong refers to theplayground between the two mountains.
To the North of the town, lies the Secunder range. The ranges of Kang, Janu, Pandim, Kabru, Simbhu Siniyalchu, Chomeo Moh are all visible from Kalimpong apart from the majestic Kanchendzonga.The silver glow at the distance thus never fades. Nor does the variety of colors at sunrise or sunset. Red to copper brown, then from copper to lead variants of all colors play at the horizon at the beginning and end of each day. The sight of the entire N-Eastern Sky changing its coloursisa sight that only the people of Kanchendonzga can boast of.To the West of the town liesthe green valley of Great Ranjit, to the South west the Sinchal rAnge, to the South the plains of Bengal lie the and to the East the beautiful river of Reli. Further out and we reach the thickly populated mountain ranges.
What to visit
1 Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang Gompa Monastery
2 kms South- West to the city is the Durpindara Mountains. There in stands this 3 storey monastery. The revered Dalai Lama is said to have revered the 108 volumes of Kanjur religious text in 1976. The inner sanctum, also a gift of the Dalai Lama is said to be the imageof Guru Rinpoche. Up above is Avalokiteshwar and a model of the heaven carved in wood. An amazing collection of frescos and thankas also catch your attention. The roof of the monastery offers an impeccable view of the surroundings.
2 Durpindara View Point
Straight ahead of the monastery lies the Durpindara view point. The spectacular view of the Teesta, Reli and Riyang flowing by fills the heart of all. With the backdop of the azure blue sky and the glistening white Kanchendzonga it only gets magical further.
3 Gouripur Bhawan
2 kms from the city stands Gouripur. The Bhawan is basically the house of Zamindar Brajendra Kishore RoyChowdhury of Gouripur. On the Year 1345(of the Bengali Calendar) Tagore is said to have recited the poem “Janmadin” over the telephone All India Radio from this house itself.
4 Tarpa Choling Monastery
This Tibetian Buddhist Monastery stands 1 km to the North at the end of the city. On the Deolo Hill at the height of 1704 meters is situated this monastery. The Neorakhola Water Project stands right on top of the Deola hill.
5 Dr. Graham’s house
Founded in 1900 by Dr. Graham, for the destitute Eurasian children of the area, this school is spread over a sprawling 500 acres of campus. What started with 35 children has now reached a number of 900.
How to reach
The nearest station to Kalimpong Is New Jalpaiguri. It is about 67 kms from Siliguri. Taxis ply from the station to the city.
Bagdogra at Siliguri is the nearest accessible airport with regular flights to almost every part of the country. The distance of 79 kms from the airport to the city can be comfortably covered by taxis.
Private tourist buses ply in to the city from Kalimpong and Bagdogra.
What to Eat
King Tahi at DB thai road serves excellent Chinese food with Thai and Indian Accents. The chairs are really comfy and yeah there’s a bar too.Another popular joint at the DB Giri Road is the Fresh Bite Restaurant. Hard to find foods are their speciality, with options varying from miso soup and bacon sandwich.3C’S again on the DB Giri road offers you sweet and savory cakes and pastries, with a seating option at the back.
What to Shop
In terms of shopping Kalimpong does not have much to offer. It gives you quaint options on clothes and woolens. But in case you need to find out the speciality of Kalimpong, Do not forget to get a handful of their lollipops. This experience will live with you.
Where to stay
Basic accommodation at Kalimpong starts at 200 INR and goes up to 400 INR. Deluxe rooms comes at 900 INR and the luxurious ones goes up to as high as 2000 INR. Advance booking is suggested so as to avoid hassles. The hotels are located on hill tops with excellent views. Internet access, cable tv, gardens, plantations and nurseries are added luxuries. Cloud 9, Crown Lodge and Himalaya Inn are some of the options to lodge in in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong has favorable climate all year round. So whenever you are in a mood to travel just pack your bags and go on. A new experience awaits!
Susweta Bose took up writing as to give flame to her insatiable thirst for knowing things in various sectors.