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West Bengal: Kalimpong and Pedong
The sight of evergreen Himalayas, virgin forests covering beautiful mountain range, vast mead owed valleys and reflection of sunlight on the rocky mountains have placed Kalimpong in the map of the most significant tourist destinations in the Eastern Himalayas. In 1870 Kalimpong came under the ruling of British. Even though tourist attraction of the spot is not that prominent as it is in Darjeeling but the flowers and orchids around the valley make the city of missionaries a destination for those who search some peace away from humdrum daily lives. The pleasant typical weather of Kalimpong has helped in the production of orchid, cactus and ornamental plants. The best time to visit Kalimpong is winter (avoid the rainy season), when the temperature stays around 5 to 10 degree Celsius. Kalimpong is a major center for traditional handicrafts and was a business center earlier. Kalimpong is enacting as a mid valley which has well stretched Sikandar range at the northern side, burning blue Kanchanjangha at the back side of the Sikandar Mountain, Sinchal pahar (mountain) covered by dark natural forest and plains of Bengal at the southern side of it.
While coming to Kalimpong from Siliguri, cross the bridge on Tista at Tista Bazaar and take a sharp upward turn through the twisting roads towards Kalimpong. The drive down to the plains from Darjeeling touching the city of Kalimpong is a pleasure ride as the winding road is filled with beautiful green tea gardens and valleys. 3.5 square km town, Kalimpong has 4000 residents (Nepali, Tibetan, Butane and Lepcha).
The prime attraction of Zong Dog Palri Fobrang Monastery, about 2 km away towards south-western side from the city, at a height of 1372 meters, is the epic, Kanjur which is kept inside the monastery. Dalai Lama had gifted the idol of Rimpoche (Deity of Buddhist) to the monastery and the idol is still maintained in the monastery along with the collections of fresco and thonkas. The panoramic view of the river Tista, Reli and Riyang from the Durpin Dara View Point, placed in front of the monastery will force you to come back to Kalimpong again and again. The golf course of soldiers, at a distance of 2 km from the city, Rajendra Kishor Roy’s Gouripur Bhaban (also popular as Chitrabhanu) and nature Interpretation Park in Ringping road are the other important destinations here in Kalimpong.
Tharpa Cholling, the Buddhist monastery, situated at the other side of the city on 1704 meters tall Delo pahar (hill), has an impressive fresco picture on its walls. Apart from the Tharpa Cholling, the Neorakhola water project on Delo pahar is supplying water into city. The orphanage spreading over an area of 500 acres, built by Dr. Grahams, has more than 900 students. The procedures and activities of the ashram are making this orphanage a special and inspirational place. The ashram generates its business and money from its own dairy, bakery and paltry farms. The latest attraction of Kalimpong is the Deula resort higher up in the road through Dr.Grahams. Pronounced as Delo, this resort gives the best possible view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and the River valley below from Kalimpong. One can also stay there if they wish too, as the resort has some decent rooms too. People also visit the place for picnics.
Even though the main monastery is no longer in existence but the newly built Tongsa Monastery deserves a visit. Payne view Nursery of Kalimpong has rare and expensive collections of orchids of more than 700 species. If you are interested in buying them you can buy them from the nursery and the range starts from as much as 80, 00000. On the way, while walking on the beautiful valley of Kalimpong or hiring a car for few hours you can take the pleasure of seeing Sangrila at bong road, Santikunj, Ganesh Mani Pradhan in Ganesh villa, Universal in 8 miles, Brindaban in 12 miles, Kali temple, Mangaldham, Cathlic church built on the lines of Tibetan monastery, Nepali Dharmodai Behar, Swiss welfare dairy, Kalimpong arts and crafts center, Hildium view point and Raja Dorje market.
Pedong, situated at 5400 feet, about 22 km away from Kalimpong, is a historical place situated on a ridge and surrounded by an affluent forest of Oak, Payne, Burch and Deodar. Pedong is delimited all around by tall mountains like Kanchanjangha, Kabru and Pandim. Pedong commands some splendid views of snow ranges of Mount Kunchenjungha. The small town looks really wonderful due to its picturesque view and small huts around the town. Trekkers can enjoy trekking to a very old Damsing fort, built in 1680 and adjoining St. George School. One can see the bends of river Teesta from Rimetey view point. The Tinchuley view point is great to see the Khanchenjungha.
Spending a night in Damsing guest house will give you an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature. Many more private hotels have also cropped up in recent years as well.
Viewing the rippling Hrishi River crossing the valley of 1700 feet Hrishi Khola, while taking lunch in eco camp is a lifetime experience. The Mansang River, another destination, hidden by fogy forest of Shaal, Payne, Sinkona, is 35 km away spot from Pedong. Nature lovers can satisfy their thirst of watching nature, taking a walk along the banks of Mansang River. But beware of Leeches, and remember to carry salt, as leeches abound this entire zone.