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Kalimpong

Conquered from Sikkim by Bhutan in 1706, its name supposedly comes from ‘kaleon' and ‘pong' meaning ‘minister's bastion or fort' since it did have the presence of a Bhutanese governor for the period it remained under their rule. However, the Lepcha who were there long before are said to have called it ‘kalibong' meaning ‘the ridge where we play'. In 1865, after the Anglo-Bhutan War, British India brought it under its control on taking into account its advantage as an outpost for trade with Tibet, which, as a matter of fact, they did accomplish in establishing.

Till the early 1950's until China shut down Tibet's border, Kalimpong flourished as a trading post. Trade with Tibet brought in caravans of musk, hides, furs, turquoise, coral, gold, herbs and minerals of medicinal value, and especially lamb wool. Soon large godowns were built where thousands found employment in sorting, drying and baling wool that came from Tibet. In exchange, the Tibetan traders took back cloth, tea, sugar and other food produces.

Alongside the trade with Tibet, the arrival of missionaries also saw to an early expansion of Kalimpong from a sleepy hamlet to a sizeable town that it is today. Schools and hospitals were established as early as 1873, and even till today the town's reputation as an educational center is known far and wide.

From around 1950, the descendents of early Newar settlers from the Kathmandu Valley with their keen sense for business have taken to floriculture. At a lower altitude than Darjeeling and with much less rainfall, Kalimpong has a different climate, one which has proved particularly suited to flower-growing. Indeed, the Kalimpong plant nurseries are famous throughout the world, while the hillsides in springtime are a vibrant testament.

LINKS : To know more about Kalimpong – visit this site of excellent photography www.prafulrao.com Wg. Cdr. Praful Rao is an ardent photographer of life in the hills.

Area 1056 sq km
Population (Town) 85,000 (approx.)
(Sub-division) 275,000 (approx.)
Altitude (Town) 1200 meters (4000 ft.)
Summer Max. 30°C Min. 20°C
Winter Max. 18°C Min. 6°C
Annual Rainfall 220 cms
Best Season March to Mid June & Sept. to November.
The winter months have a charm of their own!
Languages Spoken Nepali, English, Hindi, Bengali, & Tibetan
Local Transport Private Taxis, Jeeps, Buses
Air Connections Nearest Airport is Bagdogra.
Rail Connections Nearest Railway Stations are New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. Bookings can be made in Kalimpong.
Road Connections It is 51 km from Darjeeling, connected by all Weather metalled road.
Kalimpong - Siliguri (2.5 hours) : 65km
Kalimpong - Gangtok(2.5hours) : 78km
Kalimpong - Darjeeling(2hours) : 51km
Taxis Maruti vans are the traditional taxi vehicle. For the sake of comfort you may want to ask for a luxury vehicle fitted with seatbelts, Ac / heater, although this will cost a little more.
Cuisine Kalimpong and the Darjeeling hills including Sikkim have a local cuisine based on Chinese-Tibetan and the Nepali-Indian food. Continental cuisine too is available.