This bustling bazaar town sprawls along a ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta River and within sight of Khangchendzonga. Kalimpong lacks Darjeeling’s crowds and commercialism, yet it boasts Himalayan views, tranquil retreats, Buddha shops, temples and churches, and a fascinating nursery industry.
Kalimpong’s early development as a trading centre focused on the wool trade with Tibet, across the Jelepla Pass. Like Darjeeling, Kalimpong once belonged to the chogyals of Sikkim, but it fell into the hands of the Bhutanese in the 18th century and later passed to the British, before becoming part of India at Independence. Scottish missionaries, particularly the Jesuits, made great efforts to win over the local Buddhists in the late 19th century and Dr Graham’s famous orphanage and school is still running today.
The Gorkhaland movement is active in Kalimpong, so it’s worth checking the security situation before you arrive. The Gurkha leader CK Pradhan was assassinated here in October 2002 after being implicated in an assassination attempt on the head of the GNLF, and is commemorated by a small shrine on the spot where he was gunned down.
Kalimpong destination guides
Sikkim Bhutan Trek
A spectacular trek in Sikkim combined with a cultural odyssey in Bhutan