Featured Photo: A view of Delo in Kalimpong. Photo courtesy: wbnorthbengaldev.gov.in
With monsoon taking a break, the air in Kolkata and Siliguri is getting hot and dusty again. You must be pondering about spending a few days in serenity but cannot afford a long break. If that’s the case, Kalimpong can be your best choice for a short holiday.
An attractive place in eastern Himalayas, Kalimpong is yet to be explored to its potential vis-à-vis the tourism perspective. With its temperate climate, meandering roads, affordable accommodation and close proximity to popular tourist spots, Kalimpong can be a good option to enjoy calm and serenity.
Kalimpong, the magnificent Himalayan beauty as they call it, is situated on the Mahabharat range of the great Himalayas and offers a great view of the Teesta river basin.
If you do not want to get into busy sightseeing schedules, then probably, Kalimpong is the place for you. Sit with a cup of hot coffee in any of the restaurants in Kalimpong and start a conversation with the locals to learn anecdotes and stories about the good old days.
Kalimpong holds a lot of historical values due to its proximity to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Kalimpong is situated on an offshoot of the Old Silk Route connecting Asia and Europe.
Jelep La (Pass) off Kalimpong connects India and Tibet; trading of goods and animals was once a flourishing phenomenon through this pass. It was an important business centre till the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1959, and more precisely till the 1962 Sino-Indian War. After the war, the trade route was sealed off and Jelep La became a part of history.
Kalimpong has diverse population of ethnic Nepalis, indigenous Lepchas and Bhutias from Tibet and non-native migrants from different corners of India.
Kalimpong was a favourite with Gurudev Rabidranath Tagore and Gauripur House on the way to Duprin Dara used to host him during his visit. It was from Gauripur House from where Tagore recited the poem Janmadin live on All India Radio in 1940.
Russian philosopher and author Helena Roerich made Kalimpong her home after the demise of her celebrated husband Nicholas Roerich. In 2005, their two-storied mansion Crookety House near Durpin Dara was converted into a museum.
Kalimpong is truly a Himalayan jewel. On a clear day, the guardian deity of eastern Himalayas and the third highest peak of the world ~ Mt Kanchenjunga ~ is clearly visible. This tiny hill town is a good draw for tourists.
For adventure sports enthusiasts, white-water rafting in Teesta (16 km from Kalimpong) can be alluring. One can go for rock climbing at Pedong (14 km from Kalimpong) and undertake para-gliding at Kalimpong itself.
Set up in 1975, Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery is an important site in Kalimpong. It has rich artifacts, old scriptures and manuscripts of Tibetan Buddhism. Kalimpong is also famous for flower nurseries. One can visit Pine View nursery or the nursery of Ganesh Mani Pradhan or BN Pradhan’s nursery to feast eyes on exotic flowers and rare orchids.
Kalimpong is 70 km drive from Siliguri. Drive along National Highway-10 up to Chitrey and then take right turn on the State Highway-12.
(Tanmoy Goswami is a software professional and an IT industry entrepreneur. He lives in Siliguri)