Away from the rush of routine life in the metropolitan cities relishing the feeling of being caught in the chills of Himalayas, one can have a pleasurable stay in Kalimpong hill station. The fragrance of the flowers for which the place is so very popular tickles senses to the extent of cheerfulness. Compounded with the peaceful sanctity of the worship places in Buddhist monasteries where each and every faith can take time to connect with Divine, Kalimpong presents itself just the way a visitor or a tourist would prefer, with a group or alone.
All the hill stations of India exuded congenial weather that British found themselves familiar with. Kalimpong was no different from the rest of them when Raj decided to develop it as a town as they deemed fit. After they got it from Bhutanese King by signing the treaty of Sinchula in 1865, Kalimpong, the town changed its face from being a mere hamlet of two or three families to a progressive hill town. Surfing through the pages of history, one can easily pinpoint its association with Sikkim and Bhutan, later merging to Indian state of West Bengal as one of the town of district Darjeeling.
Take a deep breath at 1,250 m to get accustomed to a nice change from plains in the air as well as in altitude. Nature welcomes everyone on Kalimpong tour.
Journey and destinations are not always about entertainment, but these might encompass what life has come to mean to the traveler. Still, one cannot deny certain pleasure drawn by visiting a place and Kalimpong is no exception to this unstated rule. Go through some of the itineraries to check if the following attractions are part of the trip; if not, choose the one in which they are.
Places of Worship
Catholic Church - British architect Hardy from Edinburgh invested his time to get this splendid church constructed keeping in mind the Roman Catholics living in the locality. The influence of culture of the region can be easily noticed.
St Theresa Church - Built in Tibetan architecture, the church is considered to be very old. One can point out the biblical characters in paintings similar in appearance with that of Buddhist monks. The views of Himalayas act as icing on the cake along with the presence of this worship sanctuary.
Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang Gompa - Also referred to as Durpin Monastery, the place is haven for those who want a escape in Divine. It holds tremendous importance for the Buddhist pilgrims because of the consecration by Dalai Lama in 1976 and fro the presence of sacred Kunguyar.
Tharpa Choling Monastery - Established in 1937 by Gelupka sect of Buddhism on Mt Tirpai Hills, the monastery offers great natural views. The cool environment on one of the most ideal places of Kalimpong is best for a rendezvous with spirituality.
Thongsha Gumpha - As the 17th century was turning to 18th, this place (also referred to as Bhutanese Monastery) came into existence which stands today as a renovated form of the original destroyed by ravage of Gurkha. Murals and fresco are a reason of curiosity in tourists visiting the monastery.
Mangal Dham - Dedicated to Lord Krishna and some saints, the temple is a destination to be in double company of God and Nature at once. Beautiful idols can captivate anyone visiting the place.
Flower Nurseries - Kalimpong has left its mark for horticulture which boosts its economy and thus one can enjoy various nurseries including varieties of flowers as well as cactuses they have on display. Popular among those are Pine View Cactus Nursery, Universal Nursery, Standard Nursery, Udsai Mani Pradhan Nursery and Sri Ganesh Moni Pradhan Nursery.
Sarmasa Garden - Covered in six acres of land, the garden came into existence in the year 1922. Maintained by Forest Department, it is of peculiar interest for exotic orchids and is proposed to be an external gallery.
Neora National Park - This alcove of Nature is well-known for a tete-a-tete with flora as well as fauna specific to this region. An area of 88 Sq Km near Lava was declared a protected area in 1986. Since then, a dense forest filled with animals and birds that have made the place their home reside. Enjoy catching a glimpse of them by making sure a visit happens to the place while Kalimpong travel.
Relli River - The small river that merges with Teesta some 7 Km to south is Relli River. Picnicking, packed with activities like fishing, swimming and sun-bathing is a regular fun indulgence tourists as well as locals become a part of.
Bungalows and houses - Kalimpong had been home to many of the Englishmen and that left the hill town with exquisite beauties in the form of bungalows with English architectural elegance. Some of the renowned ones are Crockety, Galingka and Morgan's House. In addition, one can imagine Nobel Laureate Guru Rabindranath Tagore staying in Gauripur House by paying a visit to this place.
Graham's Home - The place hailed as a charity educational institution founded by a Scottish missionary Dr John Anderson Graham in year 1900, is now a public school. Month of May is the best visiting time with the students practicing for its Annual festival- Mayfair in lush 500 acres of the space.
Kalimpong Art and Crafts Centre - A connoisseur of art can be the best judge of the precious works of creativity and here such an individual should really be present, enjoying this aspect of Kalimpong tourism.
Samco Ropeway - Gift a piece of Nature to your eyes from inside the cable car on this ropeway. Crossing Rivers Teesta and Relli takes almost 1.5 Km on this route, built by Christian missionaries to provide local transportation to Lepcha Population to Samthar Suruk.
Nature Interpretation Centre - One of its kind, the place is maintained by Forest Department in order to collect information on how human activities impact Nature and up to what extent. The flora and fauna of Kalimpong is studied in details and all the major as well as minor changes are recorded for analysis. A museum inside can be of great interest to those curious towards ecology.
Army Golf Club - This is another way to relax on these hills. People with extended days of relaxation can enjoy the sport in the company of Nature.
Places nearby Kalimpong
Rishyap - Only 34 Km away, the steep altitude of 2,360 m could be enjoyed at Rishop which has recently developed as a nice hill station to extend the Kalimpong holidays. Dense forest and the peeking Mt Kancendzonga behind it makes for a perfect time here.
Lava - At around 2000 m, another place with a slightly higher altitude than Kalimpong invites tourist to get most of their vacation in and around the hill town. Flush with the opportunities of trekking and viewing the landscape 360°, the destination is a must-visit.
Namchi - Located in Sikkim, the hill town is revered for believers of Buddhism and the appreciators of Nature. After all, it is not daily one comes across the spectacular beauty of hills of Sikkim and West Bengal in a single tour.
Pedong - Known for housing one of the oldest monasteries as well as catholic missions, the only fort of Damsang in the hills and being located on the silk route, this hill station is among the favorites when it comes to spending few more days as a part of vacation in Kalimpong.
Lolegaon - Canopy walk on hanging gardens is not a dream, especially in Lolegaon reached roughly in 2 hr from Kalimpong from Relli Khola route and needs around a day for complete joy here.
Things to do
Apart from relaxing and rejuvenating in the sights of Kalimpong, adrenaline rush seekers can take a plunge in activities like mountain biking, river rafting, etc. Make these a part of Kalimpong package and go about doing all that follows.
Change gears of the mountain bikes while paddling through the rough terrains negotiating the path and sweat the extra fat taken from scrumptious dishes of the hills. Others can take a trial of the waters of River Teesta on colorful rafts accompanied by oars. More adventure waits in the form of trekking trails if one is in right mindset of exploring them making the most of the time. And, the info provided above already covers the cable car ride on Samco Ropeway.
Relaxing and cuddling in bedcovers of an air-conditioned room in any of the resorts or hotels in Kalimpong is not a bad idea at all. But, provided it is booked as the peak seasons might pose a great challenge.
Some of the best of them are Garden Reach Hotel, Soods Garden Retreat, Kalimpong Park Hotel, The Sana Hill Top, Alkananda Guest House, Sonar Bangla Hotel, Tres Hotel, Kalimpong Tourist Lodge and the list can contain more of them. Find the one that best suit requirement or ask that to be included in tour package.
The cool pleasurable air of Kalimpong can be enjoyed throughout the year except for the month of June and Jul because of the heavy rainfall the area witnesses. Winters record temperature varying from sub zero levels to 15°C, while summers face heat up to 30°C. Fog during monsoon and winter only enhances the appeal of the places.
Best time to visit
Removing monsoons from the list of the consideration, the options include months between March to May to visit Kalimpong.
How to reach
By Air : Nearest Airport to Kalimpong is Bagdodra (situated near Siliguri), separated by 79 Km, rest of the distance being covered by taxi. International travelers have to come to New Delhi or Kolkata to catch flight to Bagdogra to reach the hill destination under discussion.
By Train : Jalpaiguri, popularly known by its shortened name NJP serves as the main connecting railway station, only 67 Km away from the hill town.
By Road : Most of the surrounding hill towns and cities are connected via roads but time needed to travel from all of them to Kalimpong might vary depending upon the roads and season.