Nestled in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, Kalimpong is not a tourist hotspot, but a peaceful and rather unassuming Indian hill town with some spectacular landscapes surrounding it. Perched on a mountain ridge overlooking the River Teesta just 50 kilometres from Darjeeling, Kalimpong offers some stunning views of imposing Kanchenjunga and the Himalayas on a clear day. If you’d like to experience the beauty and culture of the region without the throngs of tourists, Kalimpong is a lovely alternative to Darjeeling.
The heart of the town is a rather chaotic market and motor stand. Religious sites in the vicinity include Durpin Gompa, a large and beautiful monastery perched atop Durpin Hill, with unforgettable mountain views, and St. Teresa’s Church, constructed in the late 1920’s by Swiss Jesuits. Dr. Graham’s Homes are also a much-loved highlight in Kalimpong, established by the Scottish missionary in 1900 to serve children in need in the area. The grounds here cover 500 acres and the Scottish style cottages and buildings are lovely. The school is still occupied today, and tourists are welcome to chat with staff members and students. Gauripur House is the former home of renowned Bengali poet Ravindra Nath Tangore.
The region is becoming more popular with hiking enthusiasts as a starting point for some beautiful treks through the Himalayas, past monasteries, through rural villages, along rocky mountainous terrain and into the forests. The views are spectacular, particularly from Kalimpong’s highest point at Deolo hill and homestays in surrounding villages are a good option to get a more local insight into village life in India.
It is also closer to Bagdogra airport so makes a convenient base to start or end your eastern Himalayan journey.