Sakshi Nanda takes you to explore an unusual hill station overlooking the Teesta River in West Bengal
There’s something about Kalimpong that sets it apart from other hill-stations. It lacks the typicality that smaller hill towns frequented by weekend tourists acquire; Mall Roads lined with shops selling hand-knit sweaters, cotton candy or bhutta at every bend and noisy video game parlours tucked between shops promising imported goods. Kalimpong is different. It sits demurely like a Queen on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River in West Bengal.
It was the April of 2010 when a sprightly cabbie drove us into Kalimpong at God’s own speed. My eyes were tightly shut but my ears did not miss noticing how, unlike most taxi drivers, he wasn’t rattling off sites we could see over the next two days of our stay. He kept saying the word “relax” throughout the drive and then “historic!” when he waved us and our two backpacks goodbye outside Morgan House. The import of both words, twined together, came rushing to me when I beheld my lodge, sitting like a grand old man on the outskirts of the town.
It was but evident that Kalimpong was going to make us relax in the lap of History!
The first excursion
Most mountain roads offer two choices—one which makes you ascend and another which makes you descend. After a night spent in a huge room with a fire place and a bathroom overlooking an impeccable golf course, we climbed down a creaking wooden staircase and decided to walk up the road early next morning. High on caffeine and thankful for the pleasant weather, many smiles were exchanged with men in fatigues of the Indian Army’s 27 Mountain Division. Till we came to the end of the road which read Zang Dhok Palri Phodang monastery.
The football match at the monastery
Once upon a time, many Buddhist monks fled Tibet and established monasteries in Kalimpong. Here was the biggest one in front of us, housing rare Buddhist manuscripts, yet seeming as humble and without fanfare as would be expected of a faith purely propagating peace. We walked around its desolate corridors, whispering to each other lest we disturb the syrupy calmness of the place, till we met a friend, the pigeon. There he was, sitting patiently, waiting for the football match to begin as if, while a stone’s throw away, the monks were busy with their early morning sport already!
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