It is said that Kalimpong has got its name from Kalibong or Kaulim, which is a local fibrous plant used in the papermaking industry. There’s no doubt that till today Kaulim is found in abundance at Kalimpong and that is not the only plant to flourish there. The little hill station is extraordinarily blessed with flowering plants and roses, orchids, lilies, rhododendrons, etc bloom in profusion there. Flowers seem to grow out of thin air there and Tarek and I were mesmerized by the way locals used them to decorate every inch of their houses. Flower spotting was one of our favourite Kalimpong experience activities and our forest hikes left us wanting for more. This place is great for being one with nature and that’s exactly how we spent our time in the hill-station of East India.
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Enjoy the refreshing nature
Kalimpong’s slopes are covered with pine, neon green bamboo, maple, oak, and fir trees. Many beautiful ferns and mosses grow on them abundantly and the air is scented with wild green sap from such profuse vegetation. Occasional rolling of mists made the landscape lovelier and we hiked for hours in the pleasant weather. It was the perfect activity for a pregnant traveler like me and I loved every bit of our nature-based Kalimpong experience. Those were very beautiful days too. The sun often played hide and seek between the rolling candy floss clouds and breeze blew in cool whispers over the Teesta Rangit valley. Wisps of refreshingly cool mountain air rushed into our room in brief gusts; making the white curtains go awry and bringing in a shower of red geranium petals along with calls of wild birds.
Opt for a garden homestay
Tarek and I both being very nature people, the gorgeous garden of our homestay was the true highlight of our Kalimpong experience. It attracted local birds of all kinds and sometimes at dawn, we were stirred awake by their busy chatter. The loaded fruit trees and strawberry patches tempted large bushy-tailed squirrels and many times, we found bejeweled frogs and noisy geckos with glinty eyes nestling between them. Our Kalimpong mornings always started with cups of signature Darjeeling tea at the flower-filled verandah and post breakfast, we walked all over the town.
Hike through the hills and villages of Kalimpong
Our favourite walk had been to the Deolo Hill viewpoint and back and the downhill hike was always been via the small hilly hamlets. Deolo Hill with its manicured lawns, sweeping views, and masses of blooming flower beds is a visual treat and the blooming rhododendrons painted the garden in brilliant pinks and reds. At the summit, apart from chatting with photo-friendly local monks and enjoying some ice cream, there was not much to do and pregnancy ruled out our chances at paragliding. So, we focused on our downhill walk more than the viewpoint and wandering around the small villages, sampling wild raspberries and exploring little forests made our Kalimpong experience a lot of fun. The hill station still had many old colonial buildings, churches and schools and often melodious hymns being practiced by local choir groups rang through the hills. We have passed many pleasant hours of our Kalimpong days there, staring at medieval aged rustic pig pens; bordering bushes of wild sunflowers, poinsettias, and blood red lilies; and idly chatting with red-cheeked local children and their shy mothers.
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The occasional monastery, momos, and market visits
On one occasion we wandered up to the Durpin Dara Hill and returned after paying brief visits to the Army Golf Course, the supposedly haunted Morgan House and the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery. Consecrated by none other than His Holiness Dalai Lama himself, the monastery is a popular attraction of Kalimpong and is famous for having lots of rare Tibetan scripts. Beautiful paintings decorated its ceremonial hall and colourful strings of Buddhist prayer flags fluttered in the peaceful wind. Everything about Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery was quiet, tranquil and we enjoyed the solitude with a hot plate of vegetable momos.
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Finally, slow down for the perfect Kalimpong experience
The local food is also one of our favourite memories of Kalimpong experience and we gorged on momos, soupy thukpas, and other Chinese Indian dishes during our stay. With the rare luxury of time on our hands and so less to do, Kalimpong was an indulgent lazy vacation. It was a refreshing break from the blazing hot Indian plains and gave us the best possible ending of our ambitious India summer trip.
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