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Kalimpong

   Kalimpong is a small sleepy hill resort and lies within Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. With a population of about 50,000, it is ethnically and culturally similar to Darjeeling. Most activity centres around the Bus Stand in the heart of the town which has a few cheap hotels and restuarants. During the days yonder, Kalimpong used to be the hub of trade of India with Tibet and the trade route passed through Pedong, Rongli in Sikkim and then the pass of Jelepla on the Sikkim-Tibet border but the Chinese invasion in 1962 put an end to all that.

Kalibong in the local dialect stands for Kaulim, a fibre plant used for making paper and paper goods. This grows in abundance in this region. Kalimpong a part of West Bengal, with its rich culture and religious heritage, the fascinating scenic beauty and wonderful flora and fauna has got immense tourist potential. On the north are Deolo Hills, towering above the town, supplies water to Kalimpong, to the south Durpindara Hills, while in the centre is the large market square where the people assemble to trade their wares on Wednesdays and Saturdays. North of square is the Rishi Road with shops on either side and space for the caravans of wood traders and muleteers; the numerous Chinese and Tibetan shops bulge with curious and leather goods.

Situated at an altitude of about 1250 metres (4100 ft) and cradled on a saddle between the hill features of Durpin and Deolo Hill, Kalimpong has a climate that is very mild unlike Darjeeling which becomes extreme cold during the winters. Kalimpong means the fort of the King's minister. And the name got established when this area was under the Bhutanese, who occupied it in 1706. Before that Kalimpong was a part of Sikkim. Bhutan retained Kalimpong till 1865 after which it along with Dooars was ceded to British India under the Treaty of Sinchula.

In gorgeous costumes Bhutanese archers, Nepalese and Sikkimese dancers, perform as warriors, demons and kings, wild bulls, bracing deer and the shaggiest yaks combine to lend a feast to this quiet resort town. The richness of feature and costume cannot be rivalled elsewhere.

With rewarding walks, and trekking trails, coupled with the fishing in the Teesta and its tributaries, Kalimpong is the ideal place for a quiet holiday, but not without colour or excitement. All the fun of the fair but filled with exotica is the order of the day at the Kalimpong Mela held every December and the Pedong Agricultural Mela every February.

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