Kalimpong is a picturesque hill station nestled among the East Himalayan Range or the Sivalik Range of the Himalayas. It can be rightly described as the nursery of North Bengal for the bountiful bouquet of flowers like orchids, amaryllises, roses, gladiolas, dahlias and rhododendrons that adorns its landscape. Though not as well known as its famous counterpart Darjeeling, it has a beauty of its own that is distinct and charming.
Before the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 and the subsequent Indo-China War in 1962, the Jelep la pass in Kalimpong was actively used by Indian and Tibetan traders to exchange good and services. The Dalai Lama had also entered India through Kalimpong to take refuge from the Chinese authorities in 1959. It is said that Buddhist scholars and Lamas have hidden many valuable religious scriptures and objects in the monasteries of Kalimpong to avoid its destruction from the oppressive Chinese regime – the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery blessed by the Dalai Lama is believed to be one among the most sacred monasteries of Tibetan Buddhists.
Kalimpong’s present excellence in education is also due to the contribution of Scottish missionaries who built schools and welfare centres in the hill station. The Scottish University Mission Institution (S.U.M.I), still known for its great quality of education was the first educational institution in Kalimpong that opened in 1886. Again in 1900, Dr Graham’s Home, another educational institution of great repute was formed by Rev J.A. Graham. The legacy of the British can be found in the many old buildings of Kalimpong that is a masterpiece of colonial architecture; the Morgan House is one classical example of this legacy.
Kalimpong is regarded as one of the ecological hotspots in India lying in the Eastern Himalayas. This is because, Kalimpong is blessed with different variety of flora and fauna and unparalleled alpine beauty. The natural treasure of Kalimpong and its surrounding areas houses several species of orchids and rhododendrons along with deciduous forest like oak, birch, maple and alder.
The Neora Valley National Park in the Kalimpong sub-division is also home to the endangered Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear, Clouded Leopard, Asiatic Black Bear, Goral and numerous other animals. Avian species like the Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Pheasant, Monal, Hornbill, Black Baza and Sparrow-hawks are among the many kinds of birds species found in the forests of the reserve. It is a great place for nature lovers, bird watchers and hikers. For those who want to taste the thrill of adventure, the wild currents of the mysterious and powerful Teesta provides an opportunity for river rafting; while the panoramic view of the mountains and the fresh air encourages mountain bikers to hit the trail.
The people of Kalimpong love their festivals and culture. They are known to celebrate most of the festivals and national holidays with much more enthusiasm and gaiety compared to other hill stations in North Bengal. The annual Independence Day ceremony held in Kalimpong is one of the most well organised, well participated and well performed ceremonies in the country and many people visit the town to witness this spectacle every year.
With an illustrious history to boast of, and blessed with natural beauty and a colorful mix of diverse communities of passionate, educated and tolerant people, Kalimpong waits to indulge your senses and provide you with memories to cherish for a long time.