Kalimpong: Exploring the Hidden Gems of this Charming Hill Station
Are you planning a trip to a beautiful and scenic region in India? Kalimpong is the only place to go! This lovely hill town, tucked away in the Himalayas, provides a special blend of scenic natural beauty, rich cultural history, and adventurous activities.
Everyone may find something to enjoy in Kalimpong, from taking in its mouthwatering cuisine and handicrafts to exploring its colonial architecture and Buddhist monasteries.
We will delve deeply into Kalimpong’s hidden treasures in this post and provide you all the details you require to organize an unforgettable vacation.
Kalimpong is a quaint town located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Its location at 1250 meters above sea level is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, gleaming rivers, and lush green forests.
The town is recognized for its pleasant weather, stunning scenery, and distinctive cultural history. For those seeking a unique and tranquil escape from the rush of city life, Kalimpong is the ideal location.
History of Kalimpong
The Sikkimese and Bhutanese kingdoms ruled over Kalimpong in the 17th century, beginning a long and illustrious history for the city. The British East India Company arrived in the town in the 19th century and turned it into a thriving center for the trade of tea, lumber, and wool.
The development of the silk industry in the area was greatly aided by Kalimpong. The village served as a center for Christian missionaries, who established numerous churches and schools nearby. Currently, Kalimpong exhibits a distinctive fusion of Tibetan, Bhutanese, and British cultures.
How to Reach Kalimpong
The Bagdogra airport, which is around 80 kilometers from Kalimpong, is the closest one. The airport has excellent connections to important Indian cities. You can take a taxi or a bus to Kalimpong from Bagdogra.
The distance to the closest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, is roughly 77 kilometers. Kalimpong may be reached from New Jalpaiguri by a number of buses and taxis. From surrounding cities like Darjeeling, Gangtok, and Siliguri, you can also drive to Kalimpong.
Top Attractions in Kalimpong
- Durpin Monastery
The Durpin Monastery is one of the most popular attractions in Kalimpong. It is situated atop Durpin Hill, which offers a stunning panoramic view of the town and the surrounding mountains. The monastery is adorned with beautiful Buddhist paintings and sculptures.
- Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery
The Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery is a unique structure that reflects the Tibetan architectural style. It is located on a hilltop and is surrounded by lush green forests. The monastery houses several ancient Buddhist scriptures and artifacts.
- Deolo Hill / Delo Hill
Deolo Hill is a popular picnic spot in Kalimpong. It offers a spectacular view of the Teesta River and the Kanchenjunga mountain range. The hill is surrounded by lush green forests and is perfect for trekking and hiking.
- Kalimpong Arts and Crafts Centre
The Kalimpong Arts and Crafts Centre is a must-visit destination for art and craft enthusiasts. It is home to several skilled artisans who create beautiful handicrafts and artifacts using traditional techniques.
- Morgan House
Morgan House is a stunning colonial mansion that was built in the early 1900s. It is located in the heart of Kalimpong and reflects the British architectural style. The mansion has now been converted into a heritage hotel and museum, where visitors can learn about the town’s colonial past and enjoy a comfortable stay.
- Cactus Nursery / Pine View Nursery
Kalimpong is famous for its cactus nurseries, which grow and sell a wide variety of cactus plants. The nurseries are a visual delight, with their colorful and spiky plants arranged in different patterns.
- Lepcha Museum
The Lepcha Museum is a small but informative museum that showcases the culture and traditions of the Lepcha community, one of the indigenous tribes of the region. The museum has a collection of traditional Lepcha dresses, utensils, and artifacts.
Accommodation options in Kalimpong
Kalimpong has several hotels and guesthouses that offer comfortable and affordable accommodation for visitors. Some of the popular options include The Elgin Silver Oaks Hotel, The Himalayan Hotel, and Kalimpong Park Hotel.
Clothing and Accessories ...
During Kalimpong visit you must carry heavy woolen garments along with a full body inners, scarf or muffler, a woolen cap to cover the ears, socks and gloves for winter season and light woolen garment for the summer season.
You must prefer to use Sports shoes since it could be a comfort during walks as some of the roads are steep. To visit during the summer and monsoon season, Umbrellas and raincoats are very helpful.
Sun glasses, sunscreen as the sun can be scorching and other travel accessories could be added. On the other hand keep your luggage light and trendy for comfortable transfers.
Itineary in Kalimpong
Day 1: Explore the Town
Deolo Hill: Start your day early with a trip to Deolo Hill. It is the highest point in Kalimpong and offers panoramic views of the town below and the mighty Himalayas.
Pine View Nursery: Visit this beautiful cactus nursery, home to various species of cacti and ornamental plants.
Mangal Dham: A temple complex dedicated to Lord Krishna, it’s a serene and well-maintained place of worship.
Tharpa Choling Monastery: Explore this beautiful Gelugpa monastery, providing insights into Tibetan Buddhism.
Lunch at a local cafe: Try traditional Nepali and Tibetan dishes.
Dr. Graham’s Homes: Visit this sprawling century-old institution founded by Dr. John Anderson Graham. The campus includes a chapel with beautiful stained glass windows.
Kalimpong Arts & Craft Center: Shop for traditional handicrafts, hand-woven fabrics, and more.
Overnight: Stay in one of the heritage hotels or cozy homestays in town.
Day 2: A Day of Spirituality and Nature
Durpin Monastery: Also known as the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang, this is a significant monastery in Kalimpong, and it houses sacred Buddhist scriptures brought from Tibet.
Durpin Dara Hill: Adjacent to the monastery, this viewpoint offers majestic views of the Himalayan range and the Teesta River.
Lepcha Museum: Learn about the indigenous Lepcha culture and heritage.
Hanuman Tok: A temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it also provides a splendid view of the nearby mountains.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, taste the local delights.
Forest Museum: Learn about the flora and fauna of the region.
Kalimpong Science Center: Great for kids and those interested in science, it offers a range of exhibits.
Overnight: Rest up in your chosen accommodation.
Day 3: Delve Deeper
Relli River: A serene spot perfect for picnics. You might find some local kids offering rides in small bamboo boats.
Cactus Nursery: Kalimpong is famous for its nurseries. Visit another one to see more varieties of plants.
Jang Dong Palriffo Brang Monastery: Another beautiful monastery to explore.
Lunch: Relish the local food at one of the town’s popular eateries.
Nature walk: Spend your afternoon on a nature walk. The serene environment is perfect for relaxation and photography.
Local market exploration: Spend your evening shopping and exploring the local markets. Pick up souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, and try local street food.
Overnight: Spend your last night reminiscing about your experiences in the town.
Best time to visit Kalimpong
The optimal periods to travel to Kalimpong are between March and May, and from September to November, when the climate is delightful and perfect for exploring the attractions.
Keep in mind that the monsoon season (June to August) can lead to landslides and road closures, so it’s best to avoid visiting Kalimpong during this time.
Local cuisine of Kalimpong
Kalimpong has a rich food culture that reflects the diverse ethnic groups that live in Sikkim. Some of the popular local dishes include momos (dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and phagshapa (pork dish).
If you have a sweet tooth, you can try the local dessert called sel roti, which is a deep-fried sweet doughnut.
FAQ about Kalimpong
Kalimpong is a hill station in the eastern part of India, specifically in the state of West Bengal. It’s situated in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, at an average altitude of 1,250 meters (4,101 feet) above sea level.
The best time to visit Kalimpong is between March and May and between September and December. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the skies are clear, offering stunning views of the mountains and valleys.
The monsoon season, between June and August, should be avoided as the town experiences heavy rainfall, making it difficult to move around.
The town is located close to the Sikkim border and offers stunning views of the Himalayan mountains, particularly of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak. It’s also near the Teesta River, which is one of the major rivers in the region.
Kalimpong is known for its colonial-era architecture, monasteries, churches, temples, and the horticulture industry (especially flower nurseries). It has a rich cultural mix due to its location, being at the crossroads of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Bengal. The town has been an important trading post historically, particularly between Tibet and India, before the borders were closed.
If you’re looking to travel from Kolkata to Kalimpong, you have multiple options. Here’s a breakdown of different modes of transportation:
1. By Air:
- Nearest Airport: Bagdogra Airport (IXB) is the nearest airport to Kalimpong.
- Flight: Take a flight from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata to Bagdogra Airport. Many domestic airlines operate daily flights between the two cities.
- From Bagdogra to Kalimpong: After landing at Bagdogra, you can hire a taxi or take a shared cab to Kalimpong. The distance between Bagdogra and Kalimpong is approximately 80 kilometers, and the journey will take about 2.5 to 3 hours.
2. By Train:
- Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) is the nearest major railway station to Kalimpong.
- Train: There are several trains from Kolkata (Howrah or Sealdah stations) to New Jalpaiguri.
- From NJP to Kalimpong: Once you reach NJP, you can hire a taxi or take a shared vehicle to Kalimpong. The distance is roughly 73 kilometers, and it typically takes around 2.5 hours by road.
3. By Road:
- If you prefer to drive or hire a taxi, you can embark on a road trip from Kolkata to Kalimpong. The distance is approximately 650 kilometers, and the journey may take around 14-16 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. The route generally goes through Bardhaman, Durgapur, Farakka, Malda, Siliguri, and then Kalimpong.
- Ensure you’re familiar with the road conditions, or you’re hiring a driver familiar with the route, especially the mountain roads leading to Kalimpong.
4. By Bus:
- Although direct buses from Kolkata to Kalimpong aren’t very common, you can take a bus from Kolkata to Siliguri.
- From Siliguri, you can get a connecting bus or hire a taxi to Kalimpong. The road journey from Siliguri to Kalimpong is about 2.5 hours.