Kalimpong is a bustling
and rapidly expanding, though still relatively small, bazaar
town set among the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the
Himalayan at an altitude of 1250m. It was once part of the
lands belonging to the rajas of Sikkim, until the beginning
of the 18th century when it was taken from them by the Bhutanese.
In the 19th century it passed into the hands of the British
and thus became part of West Bengal. It became a centre for
Scottish missionary activity in the late 19th century, and
Dr Graham's orphanage and school is still running today.
Kalimpong's attractions include three monasteries, a couple
of solidly built churches, an excellent private library for
the study of Tibetan and Himalayan language and culture, a
sericulture, orchid nurseries and fine views over the surrounding
countryside. Although not many travellers bother to visit
Kalimpong, there's enough here to keep you occupied for a
couple of days, and for the energetic there's some good trekking.
The most interesting part of a trip to Kalimpong is the journey
there from Darjeeling via the Teesta River bridge. If you
have no permit for Sikkim then the town is worth visiting
just for the journey.