Kalimpong (কালিম্পং; कालिम्पोङ) is a hill station in the Mahabharat Range (or Lesser Himalaya) in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located at an average elevation of 1,250 metres (4,101 ft). The town is the headquarters of the Kalimpong subdivision, a part of the district of Darjeeling. The Indian Army's 27 Mountain Division is located on the outskirts of the town. Kalimpong is known for its educational institutions many of which were established during the British colonial period.
Kalimpong, located on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, is a tourist destination owing to its temperate climate and proximity to popular tourist locations in the region. Horticulture is also important to Kalimpong: it has a Flower Market notable for its wide array of orchids; nurseries, which export Himalayan grown flower bulbs, tubers and rhizomes, contribute to the economy of Kalimpong. Home to ethnic Nepalis, indigenous ethnic groups and non-native migrants from other parts of India, the town also is a religious centre of Buddhism. The Kalimpong Science Centre, established under the DGHC (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) in 2008 is a recent tourist attraction. The Science Centre, which provides for scientific awareness among the school students of the town and the locals, is located on the Deolo Hill on the way to the Deolo tourist lodge.
People And Culture:
Popular festivals include Diwali, Christmas, Dussera or dasain in the local nepali dialect and the Buddhist festival of Losar. Languages spoken in Kalimpong include Nepali, which is the predominant language; Lepcha, Limbu, Tamang, Kirat, Hindi, English and Bengali. Though there is a growing interest in cricket as a winter sport in Darjeeling Hills, football still remains the most popular sport in Kalimpong. Every year since 1947, the Independence Shield Football Tournament is organized here as part of the two-day long Independence Day celebrations. Former captain of India national football team, Pem Dorjee hails from Kalimpong.
There are a large number of restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines, ranging from Indian to continental, to cater to the tourists. Tea is the most popular beverage in Kalimpong, procured from the famed Darjeeling tea gardens. Kalimpong also has a golf course besides Kalimpong Circuit House. The cultural centres in Kalimpong include, the Lepcha Museum and the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang monastery. The Lepcha Museum, situated a kilometre away from the town centre showcases the culture of the Lepcha community, the indigenous peoples of Sikkim. The Zang Dhok Palri Phodong monastery has 108 volumes of the Kangyur, and belongs to the Gelug of Buddhism.
Kalimpong is located off the National Highway 31A (NH31A), which links Sevok to Gangtok. The NH31A is an offshoot of the NH 31, which connects Sevok to Siliguri. These two National Highways together, via Sevok, links Kalimpong to the plains. Regular bus services and hired vehicles connect Kalimpong with Siliguri and the neighbouring towns of Kurseong, Darjeeling and Gangtok. Four wheel drives are popular means of transport, as they can easily navigate the steep slopes in the region. However, road communication often get disrupted in the monsoons due to landslides. Within the town, people usually travel by foot. Residents also use bicycle, two-wheelers and hired taxis for travelling short distances.
The nearest airport is in Bagdogra near Siliguri, located about 80 kilometres (50 mt) from Kalimpong. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Air Deccan and Druk Air (Bhutan) are the four major carriers that connect the airport to Delhi, Calcutta, Paro (Bhutan), Guwahati and Bangkok (Thailand). The closest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri, located on the outskirts of Siliguri, which is connected with almost all major cities of the country.
Oranges grown in the hillsides are exported to many parts of India. Tourism is the most significant contributor to Kalimpong's economy. The summer and spring seasons are the most popular with tourists, keeping many of town's residents employed directly and indirectly. The town-earlier an important trade post between India and Tibet—hopes to boost its economy after the reopening of the Nathu La pass in April 2006. Though this has resumed Indo–China border trades, it is expected that Kalimpong will have a better chance of revival as a hub for Indo-China trades if the demand of local leaders for reopening of Jelep La pass also is met.
Kalimpong is a major ginger growing area of India. Kalimpong and the state of Sikkim together contribute 15 percent of ginger produced in India. The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region is internationally famous for its tea industry. However, most of the tea gardens are on the western side of Teesta river (towards the town of Darjeeling) and so tea gardens near Kalimpong contribute only 4 percent of total tea production of the region. In Kalimpong division, 90 percent of land is cultivable but only 10 percent is used for tea production. Kalimpong is well known for its flower export industry-especially for its wide array of indigenous orchids and gladioli.
Flora And Fauna:
The area around Kalimpong lies in the Eastern Himalayas, which is classified as an ecological hotspot, one of only three among the ecoregions of India. Neora Valley National Park that lies within the Kalimpong subdivision and is home to tigers. Acacia is the most commonly found species at lower altitudes, while cinnamon, ficus, bamboo, cacti and cardamom, are found in the hillsides around Kalimpong. The forests found at higher altitudes are made up of pine trees and other evergreen alpine vegetation. Seven species of rhododendrons are found in the region east of Kalimpong. The temperate deciduous forests include oak, birch, maple and alder. Three hundred species of orchid are found around Kalimpong, and Poinsettia and sunflower are some of the wild species that line the roads of Kalimpong.
The Red Panda, Clouded Leopard, Siberian Weasel, Asiatic black bear, barking deer, Himalayan Tahr, goral, gaur and pangolin are some of the fauna found near Kalimpong. Avifauna of the region include the pheasants, cuckoos, minivets, flycatchers, bulbuls, orioles, owls, partridges, sunbirds, warblers, swallows, swifts and woodpeckers. Kalimpong is a major production centre of gladioli in India, and orchids, which are exported to many parts of the World. The Rishi Bankim Chandra Park is an ecological museums within Kalimpong. Citrus Dieback Research Station at Kalimpong works towards control of diseases, plant protection and production of disease free orange seedlings.
- Dr. Graham S Homes Campus
- 7th Mile View Point
- Army Golf Club
- Nature Interpretation Centre
- Kalimpong Arts And Crafts Centre
- Sericulture Research Institute
- Kali Mandi
- MacFarlane Memorial Church
- Mangal Dham Temple
- St. Theresa Church
- Thongsha Gompa
- Relli River