Like the other hill towns, Kalimpong
bears a name of historic significance. Once the headquarters of a
Bhutanese Governor, the word 'Kalim' means King's Minister and ' pong' -
the stronghold hence the stronghold of the King's minister. It is also
called 'kalibong' or the spur by the hill people. 'Kalimpong' in local
dialect stands for 'Kaulim' which is a fibrous plant which grows in
abundance in this region.
The meaning that has found the most
favour, however, is the Lepcha meaning of the name-'ridge where we
play'. It is said that these local tribesmen used to organise field
sports while not engaged in agricultural pursuits - hence the name.
This ' playground on the ridge' has
for long been in the shadows of its better known big brother -
Darjeeling. Kalimpong enjoys the best climate in
the region. Weekly markets on Wednesday and Saturdays afford some
interesting sights and you can haggle for hours with smiling
shopkeepers. Durpindara commands an impressive view of the snows.
The dense forests of golden oak trees
offset by the rich undergrowth of moss and lichen provide an ideal
setting for balmy walks on the thick cushions of russet-brown leaves.
One comes to Kalimpong to slow down and be pampered by nature's
The vast rolling meadows covered with
a riot of wild flowers, the sparkling brooks and rivulets meandering
lazily by the terraced fields are a feast for one's eyes. Kalimpong is a
blaze of colour throughout the year owing to the richness of its
stunning flora. The orchids of this region in particular are famous for
their infinite variety as well as their delicate tints.
Monasteries of Kalimpong date back to
1836 and tell a rich story not only of history but also of local art and
culture. You can visit among others, the Pedong, the Thongsa, the Thurpa
Choeling monasteries. There as you mingle with boy monks and gyalong
blowing lamas, you will want to forget the rest of the world, for you
have made a tryst with eternity.