Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kalimpong-The Land of Kings

Adorned with a breathtaking backdrop of Eastern Himalayas, carpeted with virgin forests and encircled by unchartered villages, this place offers a spectacular milieu of towering snow capped peaks. Situated 4000 ft above sea level in the beautiful knolls of Darjeeling between Siliguri & Gangok, it shares borders with Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh which are all within a few hours drive from here. 

Well known as the floral heaven of India and the home of the world famous orchids & cacti, this place is a house to some of the finest and the rarest specimens of Flora and Fauna. It is believed that a visit to Kalimpong is incomplete without visiting its Floral Nurseries. Located on top of a ridge overlooking the eastern bank of river Teesta, it offers an excellent view of Mt. Kanchejunga. The vast expanse of green treasure rolled out over the meadows; dotted with wild colorful lowers and rivulets wandering idly is a portrait in itself autographed by Mother Nature.

Woven with a rare ethnic blend of hilly natives the tradition of hospitality in this secluded retreat has been practiced since centuries. Famous for indigenous artifacts, the artisans here craft traditional artwork and jewelry those are much admired all over the world. The weekly markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays comprises of some interesting sights like conventional Tibetan and Bhutanese handicrafts, woodcarvings, copper-wares, feng-shui bells, tapestry bags, scrolls, paintings , statues, wall hanging, knifes, Porcelain, Crystal, Thankhas, Dragons, bone stuff, masks and souvenirs. 

This artistic heaven not only welcomes the art and nature admirers but also the ardent foodies are well fed. For all those who savor the taste of different cuisines, the hill station serves a platter of multicultural delicacies. The much famed snack; Momos is a common sight here. These steamed dumplings are stuffed with either meat or vegetable cooked in a wrapping of flour and are served with watery soup leaving ya tastes bud craving to have more. The next thing on menu to be explored is Churpee, a hard cheese produced from Yak's or Chauri's (A mix breed of yak & cattle) milk. Another delicacy that’s more in demand is Thupka; hearty Tibetan noodle served in soup with minced meat is a must try. 

This ecological hotspot served as a gateway to the oriental world some centuries ago housing a couple of relics. These relics have witnessed the growth of Kalimpong since the days of Silk Route voyages undertaken by distinct traders and explorers of the east. One of the relics are Monasteries or Gompas. Marking their presence here way before 1700 A.D. , the famous monasteries include Tongsa Gompa, Tharpa Choling Gompa and Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa. 

Having withstood and witnessed rough weather for centuries together, the Thongsa Gompa is a renowned Bhutanese Monastery. Established in 1692 this is an oldest marvel built under the guidance of Bhutan King. The monks are often seen offering prayers and meditating from dawn to dusk. 
Dating back to the year 1926, Tharpa Choling Gompa is situated at Tirpai Hill and belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism; the Gelukpas. Adorned with idols of the Bhaisajya, Sakyamuni and Maitreya Buddhas which translates to past / present and future, this Gompa is a must visit. The tiny hall inside the Gompa is artistically bejeweled with the images of flayed animals and humans. The Gompa is a 40 minute walk from the main town. 

Renowned as Durpin Monastery, the Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa was constructed in mid 70s in the hills of Durpin Dara. Sanctified by Dalai Lama this Gompa houses rare paintings and the most sacred text Kunguyar. The sacred text comprises of all the 108 volumes those were carried by Dalai Lama during his exile. Resonating a perfect impression of Buddhist architectural style, the walls inside exhibit exceptional paintings and a three dimensional Mandala located on the first floor prayer hall leaves every visitor enchanted. Flanked by a fascinating view of landscapes and the distant Himalayan ranges, the Gompa leaves every visitor transfixed. The emanating radiance of wisdom, soulful fragrance of peace and the transcendental tranquility billows through the ambiance of this Gompa throughout the day.

Scaling heights of success may not be so adventurous as scaling heights of mountain range is. At every altitude the universe unifies to gift mind and soul a pure ecstasy. A glare of astonishment flirts around at a height of 1650 meters at the Delo View Point. This highest point in the town of Kalimpong paints a mesmerizing view of the snow clad mountains and the Teesta River Valley. 
Durpin Dara Hills is a Nature's canvas showcasing the mystical mount-scapes painted with multiple hues during dawn & dusk. Elevated at an altitude of 1400 meters, the hill top offers a spectacular view of the Chola Hills of Sikkim, distant plains of Siliguri, emerald valleys of River Teesta & Rangit and an awe – inspiring picturesque of Mt. Kanchendzonga rendering the voyagers spellbound.

This isn't it ! A lot more is to be explored. Its an ascend where every trek is complemented with enchantment and serenity. And while descending comes along a mystical fragrance of memories that lasts for centuries.

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