Introduction to Kalimpong
Kalimpong was part of Sikkim till about 1700 AD, when Sikkim was overrun by the Bhutanese. In 1707, the Chogyel Choder Namgyel led the Sikkimese army against the Bhutanese army from their kingdom. However, Kalimpong and the Doars remained under the Bhutanese Government.
It was only after the defeat of Bhutan in the Anglo-Bhutan war of 1864 and the signing of the Treaty of Sinchula that Bhutan was compelled to cede Kalimpong and the Doars to the British East India Company. Kalimpong thus became a sub-division of the Darjeeling district.
Kalimpong is inhabited mainly by the Nepali, Bhutia and Lepcha communities. Languages spoken are Nepali, Hindi, Lepcha, Bengali and Bhutia while English is also spoken by a large section of the people. Hinduism is the predominant religion followed by Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
Places of interest
Dzangduphalri Monastery – The monastery is located at the top of Durpin Dara (hill) and commands a panaromic view of the Kanchanjunga mountains range and the surrounding areas of Kalimpong. This monastery was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1976. This monastery belongs to the Nyingma Order or the Red Hat Sect.
Dr. Graham’s Homes School – Dr. Graham’s Homes School was established by the late Dr. J. A. Graham in 1900 over 500 acres of hillside. This school was originally established for providing shelter and education to Anglo-Indian children. It now offers quality co-education to both residential students and local day scholars. The school is self sufficient to a great extent with its own bakery, farms, workshop and hospital. The numerous colonial “cottages” which are home to the residential students are quaint and attractive.
Delo – Delo is the highest point in Kalimpong town (5500 feet) it offers majestic view of Mount Kanchanjunga and other peaks in its range. One can get a full view of Kalimpong town as well as a view of the Relli and the Teesta valley.
Pine View Nursery – The Pine View nursery is the house of Cactai plants. The nursery is run by Mr. Mohan Pradhan and his family. This nursery has more than 750 varieties of Cacti.
Jangsa Gompa (Dechencholing Monastery) – Jangsa Gomba belonging to the Nyingma sect of Buddhism was built by the Government of Bhutan in 1692 AD when Kalimpong was still a part of Bhutan. This monastery now has a small library, mud statue making training facility and Thanka painting training facility. Tsechu (lama mask dance) is also held for three days in this monastery.
Lepcha Museum and Lepcha Monastery – The Lepchas are one of the indigenous people of Kalimpong and now constitute a minority. The Lepcha Monastery is at a short walk’s distance from Kalimpong town in Bong Busty. This museum houses Lepcha musical instruments, Lepcha articles of worship and other tools and equipments used by the Lepchas. This is an important place for those who wish to know about the religion and culture of what Arthur Foning calls this ‘vanishing tribe’. A little walk further down is the Lepcha monastery.
Lolay Goan – Lolay Goan is two hours drive from Kalimpong at an altitude of 1847 meters. The road to Lolay Goan passes through deep forest. Jandidara in Lolay Gaon is a popular sunrise viewing point. While from Tiger Hill, one can watch the sunrise over the mountains, from Jandidra one can watch the sun rise over the plains viewed from a height of 1847 meters. Lolay Gaon also boasts of a rich collection of flora.
Sanchen Dorji Monastery at Pedong – Sanchen Dorji Monastery is the oldest monastery in Kalimpong and was built during the Bhutanese rule. It has now become the centre of Shabdrung Rimpoche (known as the Dharma Raja of Bhutan).The last Shabdrung Rimpoche had relocated to Pedong and expired four years ago. His human form has been preserved at Pedong and will be encased in a Stupa/Chorten on an auspicious day. This place has become an important pilgrimage for the Bhutanese and other followers of the Drukpa Khargu tradition of Buddhism.
Other places of interest
Other places of interest in Kalimpong are the Mangal Dham temple, Tharpa Choling monastery, Kalimpong art and craft centre etc. Kalimpong is also famous for bird watching and trekking. One can enjoy whitewater rafting on the Teesta River which promises to be an exhilarating experience.