Kalimpong – General Information
Like the other hill towns, Kalimpong bears a name of historic significance. Once the headquarters of a Bhutanese Governor, the word ‘Kalim’ means King’s Minister and ‘ pong’ – the stronghold hence the stronghold of the King’s minister. It is also called ‘kalibong’ or the spur by the hill people. ‘Kalipong’ in local dialect stands for ‘Kaulim’ which is a fibrous plant which grows in abundance in this region.
The meaning that has found the most favour, however, is the Lepcha meaning of the name-‘ridge where we play’. It is said that these local tribesmen used to organise field sports while not engaged in agricultural pursuits – hence the name. This ‘ playground on the ridge’ has for long been in the shadows of its better known big brother – Darjeeling.
Situated at an altitude of 1250 mts. Kalimpong enjoys the best climate in the region. Weekly markets on Wednesday and Saturdays afford some interesting sights and you can haggle for hours with smiling shopkeepers. Durpindara commands an impressive view of the snows.
The dense forests of golden oak trees offset by the rich undergrowth of moss and lichen provide an ideal setting for balmy walks on the thick cushions of russet-brown leaves. One comes to Kalimpong to slow down and be pampered by nature’s bounties.
The vast rolling meadows covered with a riot of wild flowers, the sparkling brooks and rivulets meandering lazily by the terraced fields are a feast for one’s eyes. Kalimpong is a blaze of colour throughout the year owing to the richness of its stunning flora. The orchids of this region in particular are famous for their infinite variety as well as their delicate tints.
Monasteries of Kalimpong date back to 1836 and tell a rich story not only of history but also of local art and culture. You can visit among others, the Pedong, the Thongsa, the Thurpa Choeling monasteries. There as you mingle with boy monks and gyalong blowing lamas, you will want to forget the rest of the world, for you have made a tryst with eternity.
Nestled in the laps of the majestic Himalayas amidst people exhibiting warmth, this paradise on earth beckons you to a holiday, the kind of which you have never experienced before.