What can I say about our Kalimpong slow travel break? That it was lovely, intrepid, lazy and much needed, after our crazy, impromptu cross country motorbiking trip. The month was March. All across India, Mahua carpeted rural roads with fragrant blossoms and cuckoos called out from mango groves. Holi was over and the young Indian summer already parched the hinterlands of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. The first half of our that India trip showed us gorgeous glimpses of Agra, Jaipur, Khajuraho, and Panna National Park and Tarek and I braved the summer sun (as well as the stunning, but dreaded Chambal region) on a trusty Royal Enfield motorbike. That was a long ride to remember and the only glitch was our impending baby. I was 4 months pregnant when we embarked on the crazy adventure and though, it was a lot of fun, the heat and exhaustion of our motorbiking chronicle left me feeling weak.
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The reason behind our Kalimpong slow travel
On that trip, we pushed our limits to the maximum, braved harsh weather conditions and on our 2nd last day at Khajuraho (after a bout of severe heat exhaustion and dizziness) decided to head for a cooler, quieter place in the hills. Thus, we headed east towards Kolkata, my hometown and although Darjeeling was our first choice, we happily settled for the little hill station of Kalimpong. The reasons behind choosing Kalimpong slow travel were plentiful and less crowd was its biggest draw. Being on a lower altitude of 4,101 feet, Kalimpong also guaranteed a shorter uphill drive than Darjeeling and by the time, we landed at Bagdogra airport, our road weary bodies were ready to crash out.
Recommended Read: Beautiful Sikkim Diaries
Kalimpong is a “City of Flowers”
The drive to Kalimpong from Bagdogra Airport took around 4 hours and we breathed in relief as the blazing plains of Siliguri got left behind. Immediately thereafter the beautiful Dooars region welcomed us to the foothills of the Himalayas and lush, greenery, winding rivers and rows of silver langurs accompanied us. Kalimpong arrived without much fanfare and though the little town appeared gritty at first sight, we fell in love with its flower-filled houses. The riotous hilly blooms are in fact, our most poignant memory of Kalimpong and to us, it is the charming “City of Flowers”.
Kalimpong slow travel; when all you need is a home(stay)
Our homestay, “Roots, Shoots, and Beds” was beautifully located a bit outside the congested little town and it was the best accommodation experience we had during our entire India trip. Complete with a thickly flowering garden, the homestay included a clean room which overlooked the valley and on clear days, we were able to see snowy peaks in the distance. Tea, breakfast, and meals were served on the lily-filled verandah and a huge Himalayan cherry blossom tree bloomed outside our window. In the evenings, a million fireflies crowded inside our room and strawberry patches, bamboo thickets and orchid pots surrounded us like a Garden of Eden. It was a virtual paradise and the highlight of our Kalimpong slow travel experience.
The wonderful, relaxing art of doing nothing
“Roots, Shoots, and Beds” homestay was the perfect place to rejuvenate after our grueling motorbiking trip and we easily gave into Kalimpong’s relaxing pace. Our days were filled with short hikes, little trips on a rental motorbike and wandering around the bustling, colourful little market. We spent a wonderful time doing nothing and Kalimpong offered us the rare luxury of having no itinerary or fixed plan. This was possible, perhaps because of the small compact local community, where everybody knew everybody and the fact, that Kalimpong did not offer as many spectacular or famous spots as the next door “Queen of Hill Stations”, Darjeeling.
Suggested Read: The most beautiful places in Uttarakhand
Why go for a Kalimpong slow travel experience?
Best suited for those looking for an intrepid Kalimpong slow travel getaway, this East Himalayan town is situated 50 kilometers east of Darjeeling on the lower ranges of the Himalayas. The erstwhile Bhutanese territory sprawls along the saddle-shaped mountain ridge and offers beautiful panoramic views of the Teesta Rangit Valley in Sikkim. The mighty Kanchendzonga looms over it and the hill station is the original home of the Lepcha people. Its close proximity to the ancient Silk Road points of Nathu La and Jelep La has blessed the town with commercial importance and Kalimpong has gone down into history as an important trading outpost for fur, wool and other commodities on the vital route to Tibet. The apparent prosperity drew a large number of migrants from neighbouring states and countries like Nepal and turned Kalimpong into a full-fledged British colonial town. The colonial influence was heavy on the townscape and till today, Kalimpong is pockmarked with quaint old churches, Scottish missionaries, and old British constructions. Buddhism too has left its mark in forms of some old beautifully painted monasteries and these are some of the places which we visited during our trip.
Re-discovering relaxation, re-discovering a real holiday
This series on Kalimpong is dedicated to slow travel; the kind of travel where you really unwind, relax and sleep for hours in a hammock; when time is at your beck and call and wanderlust seems to be a foreign, unknown concept. With the sudden boom of travel blogs and aspiring travel writers, exploring, wandering and seeking the unknown seem to be so much in vogue, that I often wonder if people have really forgotten to have fun on their vacations. While this attitude of mine may seem to be the best case of the pot calling the kettle black, it is due to this babymoon that we rediscovered the nearly forgotten joy of simply doing nothing. So, come with us on this lazy journey, where just breathing in fragrant pine scent and staring at flowers are the best things to do. Let’s go for a Kalimpong slow travel.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE