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Kalimpong: Princess of the Himalayas

January 24, 2010

Bangalore Mirror
January 21, 2010

Kalimpong is a quiet and picturesque hill station
of West Bengal on the banks of the river Teesta.
It is located at the foothills of the Himalayas
at an altitude of 1250 metres, adjacent to the
state of Sikkim and very close to Darjeeling and
Gangtok. The small town is inhabited by Nepali,
Bhutanese, Bengali and Tibetan population which
can be witnessed in its fusion culture and
heritage. Surrounded by immense natural beauty,
Kalimpong is dotted with tea and orchid gardens,
monasteries and colonial cottages.

Sightseeing Highlights

Kalimpong has three impressive Buddhist
monasteries. Tharpa Choling Monastery built in
1937 belongs to the Gelupka sect of Tibetan
Buddhism, headed by the Dalai Lama. The monastery
has a vast library of Buddhist manuscripts.
Thongsha Gumpha built in early 17th century is a
Bhutanese monastery, and perhaps the oldest in
Kalimpong. Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang Monastery, 5
km from the town centre, preserves striking wall
paintings besides offering a glorious view of the town.

Lepcha museum is located in Bag Dhara and
displays manuscripts and valuable artifacts of
the Lepchas. Other places of interest include Dr
Graham’s Home spread over 500 acres on the slopes
of Dealo Hills. Established by Dr John Anderson
Graham, the educational institution is home to
1,200 orphan boys and girls. There is a chapel inside the estate.

Durpin Dara Hill is the highest point in
Kalimpong famous for breathtaking views of the
Kanchenjunga peak, the town and surrounding tea
estates. The hill is accessible by car. Here the
nurseries are famous for the export of exotic
flowers such as roses, gerbera, dahlias,
gladiolas and orchids. Kalimpong also hosts an
annual flower festival in October.

SHOPPERS’ DELIGHT

Shopping in Kalimpong can be an all-day activity.
The otherwise peaceful and quiet town has a
bustling marketplace at Main Road and 10th Mile
famous for handicrafts, Bhutanese pastel
paintings, embroidered bags, Kalimpong tapestry
bags, purses, copperware, scrolls and paintings.

The region also offers endless options for
trekking and walking in the expansive tea
estates, orchid gardens and the surrounding
mountains. The famous trek routes lead through
Relli, Pankhasari, Neora and Rochella. Teesta
Bazaar is 16 km from the town of Kalimpong and
offers river rafting opportunities on Teesta
river. You could also visit Neora Valley that is
close by for some fabulous nature experiences.

HolidayIQ Traveller’s Review
As the sun went down over the mountains, electric
lights of Lava and Rishyap were shining like
twinkling stars on mountains far away. The jungle
camp of Kolakham in the Neora Valley at the
fringe of the National Park plunged into darkness
without electricity. We were happy that the
beauty of the splendid, still unexplored and
dense forest wore a virgin look in kerosene lamps
and campfire light. We had sought out the place
exactly for this reason to be away from crowd,
noise, smog and pollution. We were in north
Bengal, close to Darjeeling and Kalimpong, two
hill stations of renown yet as if thousands of
miles from both. From a distance, we could see
the Neora Valley jungle camp where we would be
staying for a week. The Neora Valley seemed to us
a perfect place for meditation, introspection and
recharging our mind. Neora Valley is a wildlife
lover’s dream destination. You might meet a black
bear at any turn or a group of spotted deer might
go across your path. Bird watchers can see a
large number of migratory birds and local birds.
Trekking is the major activity besides camping in
the jungle’s core area. Panthers and tigers have
been sighted recently. Precautions need to be taken while camping.

The Neora Valley is located in the northern part
of the state of West Bengal in the tri-junction
of West Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan. The valley is
cradled in the Eastern Himalayas. The nearest
airport is Bagdogra, which is well connected with
Kolkata. Kolkata is connected by air with every
part of the world. The nearest railway station is
New Jalpaiguri and is connected with both Kolkata
and Delhi. Both from the airport and railway
station, one has to travel by jeeps or SUVs to
the Neora Valley. The jungle camp run by Help
Tourism is the only place to stay in this virgin
wilderness. Help Tourism provides birding
facilities, trekking and wildlife sighting jeep safari.
(Partha, Kolkata)

Reply from Holiday members
You are right; there will be heavy rain in
Kalimpong from the last week of June till the
first week of September. But despite that, it
will be a nice experience to see the views of tea
gardens during monsoon. The thing to keep in mind
is that travelling from one place to another will
be risky, due to frequent landslides.

The whole of north Bengal is a very nice place to
visit but July is not the ideal month to visit
this region. I suggest you to postpone your visit
till the middle or end of September. During
monsoon, you can hardly see any Himalayan peaks due to extensive cloud cover.

WHERE TO STAY
Kalimpong has a number of hotels and resorts to
chose from, as staying options. HolidayIQ lists
30 hotels and resorts in and around Kalimpong.
Most of them have rooms for Rs 2,000 or less. If
you are looking for a luxurious stay, a few
options are there to satiate your need.

Most of these boast of good facilities,
comfortable rooms, and a pleasing view of the surrounding hills.

Quick Facts

State: West Bengal

District: Darjeeling

Languages spoken: Bengali, Nepali, Hindi and English

Weather: Summer (19 - 37 C) and Winter (3 - 24 C)

Nearest Airport: Bagdogra

Nearest Railhead: New Jalpaiguri

Main Highway: NH 31-A

Best time to visit: March to June and September to November

Tourism Info: Tourism Centre M-4 Building, Hill
Cart Road, Siliguri Darjeeling Phone no: 91-353-2511974, 2511979
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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