Duration : Full day
Driving time to the town is approximately 2 hours
Situated on a ridge between two hills, Deolo and Durpin, towering over the River Teesta, this picturesque hill town is quiet and peaceful compared to Darjeeling and caters to more local residents than tourists. With great views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range, the town is an interesting blend of Buddhist, Christian and Hindu influences with its monasteries, gompas, temples and missionary activities. The local bazaar (Wednesdays and Saturdays) is a delightful place to shop and interact with the local ethnic mix of Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali communities, often dressed in their colourful traditional costume, selling local farm produce. Our drivers would be happy to share some of our secret shopping addresses with you - Nepali and Chinese brocade fabrics, silks, Tibetan curios and Buddhist paraphernalia, and, of course, the famous Kalimpong lollipops and Kalimpong cheese.
For orchid lovers, the town is a real treat with its many nurseries and rich flora. The snow-capped mountains provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and at an altitude of 5,500 feet (1250m), the air is crisp and cool. A visit to the nearby Samthar Plateau, the Lava Valley or Neora National Park - all areas of incredible beauty with a rich diversity of birds and flora - can also be arranged, but best done as an overnight stay.
The Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery is situated in a very picturesque area on Durpin Dara Hill, near the army cantonment. It has impressive wall paintings, and houses some rare Buddhist scriptures that were brought to India after the invasion of Tibet in 1959. The monastery was consecrated in 1976 by his Holiness, The Dalai Lama. The compound has amazing views of the surrounding countryside on all sides.
Across the other side of the town on Deolo Hill, Dr Graham's Homes is a unique educational institution started in 1900 by Dr John Anderson Graham, a Scottish missionary, with six orphans. Today the school has a strength of 1,500 boys and girls from impoverished and deprived backgrounds from the North East of India. The 500 acres of hillside house a self sufficient "children's city" with extensive educational facilities, cottages for their accommodation, a magnificent church, hospital, children's nursery, bakery and farm. More than half the 800 boarders are supported through the fundraising efforts of a number of overseas committees and through a worldwide sponsorship network. The school choir performs a series of winter concerts at venues such as St Paul's Cathedral in Calcutta - an event that has become a highlight of the Christmas season.
We can pack a picnic lunch for you to be enjoyed along the way, or recommend a local restaurant. Our previous manager Neena Pradhan also runs a lovely homestay just outside the town and we can organise lunch at her house (depending on her availability and at an extra cost). She is an excellent host with a lot of knowledge on the local region. Cooking classes can also be arranged on request. For more information please check www.facebook.com/neenaskitchen