"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf" ~ Tagore



Initially, the headquarters of a Bhutanese Governor, the word `Kalim' means King's Minister and `pong' - is stronghold, hence the stronghold of the King's Minister. It is also called 'kalibong' or the black spur.

The meaning that has found the most favour, however, is the Lepcha meaning of the name - `Ridge where we play'.

This `playground on the ridge' has for long been in the shadows of its better known, big brother Darjeeling. However, today more tourists have discovered that this beautiful hill town is a quiet and relaxed haven.

Situated at an altitude of 1250 metres (410 ft), Kalimpong enjoys the best climate in the region. The dense forest of golden oak trees offset by the rich undergrowth of moss and lichen provide an ideal setting for calm walks on thick cushions of russet-brown leaves.

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 many varieties as well as their delicate tints.

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Rock climbing

Places of Interest

Durpin Dara
This is an observatory point about 3 kms from town from where an awe-inspiring view of the mighty Himalayan ranges can be seen. The lush green valleys intersected by ice cold mountain rivers such as the Teesta, Relli and Riang on one side and the sight of the plains on the other provided a breath taking view.

Flower Nurseries
The climate of Kalimpong is ideal for the cultivation of flowers and plants. Kalimpong is famous for its nurseries which export exotic flowers like Amaryllis Lilies, Anthuriums, Roses, Gerberas, Dahlias, Gladiolis, as well as Orchids and Cacti.

Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery
This is a fairly new monastery located in Durpin Dara. From here one can get an exclusive panoramic view of the town and surroundings.


Kalimpong Market
A visit to the market place is a unique experience. The weekly market days are Wednesday and Saturday and on these days the villagers turn up in their colourful traditional costumes to sell their wares.

Pedong Monastery
Established in 1837, the Pedong Monastery is predominantly of Bhutanese origin. It is situated about a kilometre from the Bhutanese fort of Damsong.

Thongsha Gumpha
This monastery is of Bhutanese origin and was built around 1692. It is the oldest in Kalimpong.


Tharpa Choling Monastery
This Monastery was constructed in 1937 by the yellow hat sect of lamas to which the present Dalai Lama belongs. It is situated at Tirpai hill around 2 kms from town.

Mangal Dhaam
This recently constructed place of worship is a marvellous piece of architecture.

Dr.Graham's Homes
Founded by Dr.John Anderson Graham in 1900 this extraordinary educational institution is situated in a sprawling campus of 500 acres. The school is built on the slopes of Dealo Hill about 3 kms from town. The children live in small cottages which flank either side of the picturesque school campus. The institution has it own farm, bakery, dairy, poultry, hospital and clothing department. Every year in the month of May a gala festival called May Fair is organised here.


Lava: -A Biodiversity & Ecotourism Demonstration Project
Hidden in the mist & clouds almost throughout the year, Lava 34 kms away from Kalimpong, stands against the backdrop of the Neora Valley National Park at a height of about 2350 mts (7755 ft). This National Park is at the junction of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan.

Approachable directly from Siliguri (NJP Railway Station and Bagdogra airport) by bus or taxi, Lava is about 95 kms via Damdim and Garubathan. Lava is accessible from Kalimpong (34kms) by bus or taxi.

Lava Monastery
(Ratnarishi Bihar Buddhist Gumpa) beside the large Neora Reservoir Lake, is a centre for Himalayan medicinal plants.

There are a number of places you may cover by jeep: 2 & a 1/2 kms west of the bazar is the Tiffin Dara from where one gets a panoramic view of the Kangchendzonga range. Again 6 kms south of the bazar is the Samebiong Tea Garden popular for its panoramic views/sunrise from Ghanti Dara. Those interested in monasteries may drive 7 kms to Gitkolbung (Guruchukhi) monastery. 12 kms drive through the forests to Changey waterfalls is a delightful experience.

Numerous short and long treks are possible from Lava: Two days trek through the forests and rivers to Dali fort Loleygaon trek of 3 days duration upto Bagrakot/Samco. Neora Valley National Park short trek of 3 days will cover Rachela Danda (Tri-junction of West Bengal, Bhutan and Sikkim).

Other activities like bird-watching, camping, mountain bike trips, anthropological tours etc are possible from Lava.

Information: Courtesy Government of India

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.