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Kalimpong has come a long way since 1865 when it was just a small hamlet of 3 to 4 families having few cows. At present it has a population of about 70,000.Prior to 1864 the information cannot be authenticated as accounts are contradictory and vary from source to source. Due to this reason even the etyonology of its very name Kalimpong is not clear and has various theories. From the Lepcha sources, “Kalenpung” means Ridges Where We Play. In Tibetan translation it means The Stockade of Kings Ministers, and the hill people also call “Kalimpong” as “Kalibong” meaning “Black Spurs”. However the Lepcha translation has found acceptance as the tribesman organized field sports and not engage in agricultural pursuits. In spite of the unrecorded history and different theories, some things certain about the history of Kalimpong is that; it was previously a part of the Sikkim Kingdom which was inhabited by Lepchas(who called themselves the “Rong” or Ravine folk), the Bhutias and the Limbus. Then in the early 1700s it came under the Bhutanese and became the headquarters of the Bhutanese govt for some time and so glimpses of Bhutanese influences can still be seen in the gumbas and the Bhutan house where the royalty resided. The entire area of Kalimpong and its surroundings was earlier known as “Dalimkote” of which Kalimpong was the headquater. The Anglo Bhutanese war of 1864 decided the fate of this entire region and brought it under the East India Company. The Treaty of Sinchula which was signed in the following year ceded the whole area east of Teesta River as well as the Duars to the East India Co. One of the first mention of Kalimpong in western recorded history or literature is in the book BHUTAN AND THE STORY OF DOAR WAR by David Field Rennie. It was then merged with Darjeeling and became a sub-division of Darjeeling and the British developed it as an alternative hill station to Darjeeling. The British saw huge potential in Kalimpong and the town was originally designed as a model town, the reputation of which went as far as to Europe. Kalimpong offered easy access to the Chumbi Valley of Tibet via the Jelepla Pass, which is about 120kms from Kalimpong. Hence trade with Tibet was almost fully channelised through Kalimpong which was a major reason for its development. The Scottish Missionaries too played a big part in the development of Kalimpong by starting various primary schools and welfare centre. The two oldest schools of Kalimpong, the “Girls High School” and SUMI(Scottish University Mission Institution) were both established by them. Some famous westerners responsible for its development in early days are William MacFarlane , W.S.Sutherland and Dr.J.A.Graham. All these attracted people in large numbers and by 1907 it was no longer the old Kalimpong. The economic development of Kalimpong took a back seat following the Chinese aggression in 1962 after which trade through Jelepla was closed. Today Kalimpong continues to be part of Darjeeling District, and is now an attractive tourist and educational centre.

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