Initially, the headquarters of a Bhutanese Governor, the word `Kalim' means King's Minister and `pong' - is stronghold, hence the stronghold of the King's Minister. It is also called 'kalibong' or the black spur.
The meaning that has found the most favour, however, is the Lepcha meaning of the name - `Ridge where we play'.
This `playground on the ridge' has for long been in the shadows of its better known, big brother Darjeeling. However, today more tourists have discovered that this beautiful hill town is a quiet and relaxed haven.
Situated at an altitude of 1250 metres (410 ft), Kalimpong enjoys the best climate in the region. The dense forest of golden oak trees offset by the rich undergrowth of moss and lichen provide an ideal setting for calm walks on thick cushions of russet-brown leaves.
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 many varieties as well as their delicate tints.
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Places of Interest
Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery
Tharpa Choling Monastery
Lava: -A Biodiversity & Ecotourism Demonstration Project
Approachable directly from Siliguri (NJP Railway Station and Bagdogra airport) by bus or taxi, Lava is about 95 kms via Damdim and Garubathan. Lava is accessible from Kalimpong (34kms) by bus or taxi.
There are a number of places you may cover by jeep: 2 & a 1/2 kms west of the bazar is the Tiffin Dara from where one gets a panoramic view of the Kangchendzonga range. Again 6 kms south of the bazar is the Samebiong Tea Garden popular for its panoramic views/sunrise from Ghanti Dara. Those interested in monasteries may drive 7 kms to Gitkolbung (Guruchukhi) monastery. 12 kms drive through the forests to Changey waterfalls is a delightful experience.
Numerous short and long treks are possible from Lava: Two days trek through the forests and rivers to Dali fort Loleygaon trek of 3 days duration upto Bagrakot/Samco. Neora Valley National Park short trek of 3 days will cover Rachela Danda (Tri-junction of West Bengal, Bhutan and Sikkim).
Other activities like bird-watching, camping, mountain bike trips, anthropological tours etc are possible from Lava.
Information: Courtesy Government of India
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.