While Kalimpong was not initially on our schedule we made it our pit stop due to road sickness issues. But I tell you we regretted it not one bit. There’s not much to see really..but it’s a beautiful little hill-town in the Eastern Himalayas and its gentle laid-back charm can soothe your soul.
Kalimpong once belonged to Sikkim but was then taken by the Bhutanese and then passed into the hands of the British. Under the British it was primarily a center of Scottish missionary activity.
Apparently shopping is the most exciting touristy thing to do. There are two crowded bazaars as well as weekly markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays where one can buy Chinese textiles and lots of handicrafts attractive to anyone with a taste for oriental designs at DIRT CHEAP rates. No, I didn’t buy much as we were proceeding to Bhutan and I didn’t want to add to the already bulging suitcases.
What to do in Kalimpong? Well, we did do visit all the must-see places, but I must admit none were overly impressive.There’s not much to do. But then that’s not the point. it’s just a quiet, picturesque town with loads of old British houses with its chimneys and gables and lovely gardens, great views. Most of all it has some sort of a charm , a placid ambiance that lends it character; basically great for a wander,trekking, for a chill out or to just savour the local food.
Kalimpong has also been a fav getaway for some big names among them Rabindranath Tagore and Dr. J.A.Graham. Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Janmadin was broadcast in India’s first Live Radio Broadcast from Kalimpong. Dr Graham is considered the father of Kalimpong for his various contributions to this enchanting town. His orphanage and school which was founded in 1880, with its own church, dairy, poultry, vegetable garden & bakery still run today.
Apart from Dr.Graham’s school one can also visit the Durpin Dara monastery in the south as well as check out the excellent views of the surrounding mountainside and the mighty Kanchenjunga range from the top of Deolo Hill(5,590 ft) in the North.
There is also a Science Center that you can visit if you are traveling with kids. Kalimpong produces 80% of India’s gladiolas and has a great number of nurseries.
We visited the Pineview Nursery which has a mind-blowing variety of cacti from the world over.
To Get to Kalimpong
• Air : Nearest airport Bagdogra (80 kms from Kalimpong)
• Rail : Two nearest railway stations are New Jalpaiguri (NJP) and Shiliguri
• Road : Kalimpong is connected by road with Calcutta 651 kms, Guwahati 513 kms, Delhi 1312 kms and other major cities in India.
Kalimpong has a surprisingly large number of hotel options(since it is not tourist-choked). We stayed one night at Komfort Inn, a small yet homely cute place , and also at the colonial Himalayan Hotel.
Both GREAT places.
After our stay in Kalimpong, we left for Bhutan, refreshed and ready to take on more mountainous roads!