Fact File: Kalimpong
Altitude 1,250-1,600 metres for the town area. Countryside averages 1,600
metres. Maximum Rachela 3,152 metres.
Population Approximate 40,000. Main ethnic groups are Nepali, Bhutia and
Climate Summer: Mar to Jun 15°C -25°C. Sunny days, mild weather, flora in
Monsoons: Jul to Aug. Drifting clouds, rain and lush green.
Autumn & Winter: Sep to Feb 7°C -15°C. Blue skies, clear views of snow
Rainfall Average Annual 2030 mm (80 inches)
Round the year
Clothing Tropical in Summer with a light sweater and rainwear. Woolens in
Autumn and Winter. Parka jacket for Jan-Feb.
Language English, Nepali, Hindi and Tibetan.
Once the headquarters of a Bhutanese Governor, the word 'kalim' means
King's Minister and 'Pong' - the stronghold of the King's minister. It is
also called 'Kalibong' or the black spur by the hill people. 'Kalipong' in
local dialect stands for 'Kaulim' which is a fibrous plant which grows in
abundance in this region. The meaning that has found the most favour is
the Lepcha meaning of the name - 'ridge where we play'. It is said that
these local tribesmen used to organise field sports while not engaged in
agricultural pursuits - hence its name. Somewhat secluded and tucked away
in the corner under the big Darjeeling umbrella, Kalimpong offers a quiet
and relaxed holiday against the backdrop of Kanchenjunga.
Kalimpong was originally part of Bhutan. In 1865, after the Anglo-Bhutan
War, it was merged with Darjeeling, and became a sub-division of
Darjeeling in 1916, and developed as a hill station. It flourished as a
wool trading centre with Tibet till 1950, when the Chinese took over
Tibet. It continues to be part of Darjeeling District, and is now an
attractive tourist and educational centre.
Kalimpong is not just another hill town. This exotic town, with its scenic
surrounding areas is a complete travel circuit, where a composite "Town
and Countryside" Holiday can be enjoyed.
How to get to Kalimpong
By Air: Nearest Airport is Bagdogra (80 kms) 3 hours drive. Bagdogra is
presently connected to New Delhi, Guwahati and Calcutta, by Indian
Airlines and Jet Airways.
By Rail: The nearest railheads are Siliguri 66 kms (metre gauge) and New
Jalpaiguri 80 kms (Broad gauge), which connect you to all parts of India.
2 1/2 hours drive.
By Road: 66 kms from Siliguri, 79 kms from Gangtok, 51 kms from
Darjeeling. All reachable under 3 hours. Connections to Bhutan and Nepal.
From New Jalpaiguri, Bagdogra, Siliguri, Darjeeling and Gangtok, taxis,
share taxis and busses are available at regular intervals.
Visitors can spend 3 to 4 days based in Kalimpong.
Things to do:At Kalimpong
Local Tour: A full days Jeep tour covers all the sights. These can also be
enjoyed over two days of walking.
Inner Town & Bazar exploration: Two half days can be spent in walking the bazar and shopping.
River Rafting in the Teesta takes a full day.
Samco Ropeway Excursion: A full days Ropeway crossing, nature walk and
river pool swim and picnic.
Flower Nursery Tour: Visiting selected Nurseries takes a day or two,
depending on whether you drive or walk.
Kalimpong Places of Interest - Around Town
Panoramic snow views: Kanchenjunga, Siniolchu, Paunhari, Lama Anden, Chola,
Nathu La, Jalep La and Gymochen peaks. Best view points are Durpin Dara
and Deolo Hill.
Thongsha Gumpa: Oldest Gumpa built during the Bhutanese period, in 1630.
Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery: Consecrated personally by the Dalai
Lama in 1976, it contains the Kanguyar, in 108 volumes, brought by the
Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet. Excellent view point for snow and valley
Tharpa Choling Monastery: Belongs to the Gelukpa sect. Built in 1937.
Nature Interpretation Centre: Operated by the Forest Department, focuses
on flora, fauna and local people interacting with ecology.
Colonial Bungalows: Built by British wool traders during the "Raj" period,
located on Rinkingpong and Hill Top Roads. These include Surya Sadan,
Crockety, Galingka, Morgan House, Tashiding, Ringking Farm. Of these,
Morgan House and Tashiding, now Government Tourist Lodges, can be viewed.
Army Golf Club: Hewn out of a hillside, to keep officers fit for high
altitude soldiering. Excellent angle for photography of Durpin Monastery
from 3rd Green.
St.Theresa Church: Built by local craftsmen to resemble a Gumpa, it has
wood carvings adorning the walls, depicting biblical scenes, in which
personalities resemble Buddhist monks. An interesting example of Tibetan
Flower, orchid and exotic flora nurseries: Gladioli, orchids, cacti,
amaryllis, anthuriums, roses, gerberas, dahlias and other exotic plants
are grown in a number of flower nurseries in Kalimpong, mainly for export.
Mangal Dhaam: This recently constructed place of worship is a marvellous
piece of architecture. The temple has been built in the memory of the late
Guru Shree 108 Mangal Dasji. The samadhi of the Guruji is located within
Dr. Graham's Homes Campus: Started in 1900, by Rev Dr. John Anderson
Graham as an institution to house and educate offspring of British
planters and local women, it is now a public School. Of interest are
original buildings and chapel. The School celebrates its Centenary Year in
2000, with most functions focussed around 24th September.
Deolo View Point: Atop Deolo Hill at 1914 metres. Excellent views of snow
peaks, Kalimpong town and the Teesta Valley.
Kalimpong Bazar: Best explored walking. Shop for Buddhist Tankhas, hand
beaten silver, Bhutanese weaves, Chinese lanterns, copperware, hand
stitched clothing, local cheddar-type cheese and lollypops.
Kalimpong Places of Interest - Out of Town
Pedong: A small town 24 kms from Kalimpong, it has a monastery built in
1837, of Bhutanese origin.
Lava: 34 kms away, hidden in mists and clouds, at an altitude of 2,350
Metres, this small village, on the old trade route to Bhutan, is
surrounded by virgin pine forests. It has a lovely monastery of Bhutanese
origin and a Nature Interpretation Centre. Popular for nature exploration
and bird watching. It is also the starting point for trekking to the Neora
National Park, which is a storehouse of flora, wildlife and leads to the
3,152 metre high RacheLa tri-junction of Bhutan, Sikkim and West Bengal,
with a panoramic view of the Chola Range.
Lolegaon: Also called Kapher, is 25 kms from Lava, along a lovely forest
drive. It has a heritage forest and a view point for snow ranges of
Samthar Plateau: Scenic and remote plateau, at an elevation of 1,400 metres, it is 80 kms from Kalimpong, and 45 kms from Lava. It has
breathtaking snow views of the entire range, superb sunrise and sunset,
picture post card hamlets, exotic flora, forests, mountain streams, river
pools "far from the maddening crowds". Popular for nature holidays,
walking tours, angling, mountain biking and nature and cultural
explorations on foot.
Samco Ropeway: 20 kms from Kalimpong on the highway to Siliguri, this
ropeway was constructed by Christian missionaries to spread the gospel.
Spanning the Teesta and Relli Rivers over 1 1/2 kms, it is a thrilling
ride over 120 feet over the river with unforgettable views. It provides a
second access to Samthar Plateau, and for Forest exploration, and visit to
Teesta Valley: The main drainage of Sikkim, Kalimpong and Darjeeling
region, it is only 14 kms from Kalimpong. It provides nature walks and
river rafting, from base at Chitrey, near Teesta Bazar.