Kalimpong, one of the busiest tourist hubs in North Bengal. Many English-style bungalows work as excellent homestay. In addition, the city has come up with cute and cozy cafes and eateries. The outlets serve as the melting pot for youngsters and folks of all ages. The blog will talk about the hill station’s most beautiful homestay, eating at the only authentic Bhutanese restaurant in India, local cafes, and a few hidden gems in sightseeing.
A Victorian architecture bungalow located 5 KMs away from the Kalimpong city center. Drove Zoomcar, so access to the property and parking was not an issue. The villa is on an acre of land. The property has ample greenery and a fruit garden. A perfect setup for a garden picnic with adjacent kitchen access. But there was no seating arrangement inside the lawn.
The duplex bungalow has three bedrooms and can accommodate up to 6 guests. The fireplace in the living area is a plus. We had kids in the group, and they enjoyed themselves equally inside the bungalow and in the outside garden. Privacy is not an issue. There were no ceiling fans or air-conditioner. But the stand fan for each room was more than enough during October.
The fish pond in the property lacks maintenance. Unfortunately, there is no power backup too. Work is needed on the carpentry part to take care of the jammed doors of the bedroom and toilet. Wooden beds squeak a lot to wake you up in the middle of the night.
The food available was delicious but was very expensive for a homestay. For example, a tea will cost you INR 50, or a roti will cost you INR 20. Though being a homestay, caretakers do not allow guests to cook themselves. We mostly had dinner at the homestay, so we did not mind the limitations. Buying from the menu is the only option. A few insects, spiders, and cockroaches inside the house made us nervous as we had crawling kids. Yet, this is one of the best homestays in the town. The tariff for the whole bungalow is INR 8000 per night, excluding taxes. For booking, log in to Airbnb or WhatsApp owner: +1 352 2815062.
Sights & Eateries
Day 1 – Durpin Monastery | Cafe Kalimpong
Cafe Kalimpong is one of the new cafes that came up in the outskirts of Kalimpong city. The cafe is located at about 10 minutes walk from the main town towards Durpin monastery. In addition to food, the cafe offers an amazing Kalimpong aerial view. One can try typical cafe food like pizza, burgers, pastry with coffee.
For breakfast, we had some coffee and pastries. Unfortunately, the Tingmo and Aludum were not available. Nevertheless, the Red Velvet Cake was a pleasure to taste. The sweetness is rightly balanced and moist enough. Moreover, enjoy the cake with creamy and mild bitter hot chocolate. Personally, the Cappuccino was not as strong as I prefer. About coffee, I shall suggest an improvement from my end.
Post breakfast, we drove towards the Morgan House. I always wanted to stay at Morgan House. But never got any availability there. The property lies on the way towards Durpin Hill. These days they do not allow non-staying tourists to enter inside premises. So, we headed towards Zong Dhog Palri Fo Brang Monastery or Durpin Monastery, passing through the military cantonment. Oh boy, what a wonderful decision we took. The beautiful looking monastery was empty, and not a single soul aside us.
The top floor of the monastery gives a clear view of the Kalimpong town and surrounding hills. However, Mt. Kanchenjunga was not visible but could almost reach the low-hanging floating clouds. His Holiness Dalai Lama consecrated the Durpin Monastery during his in the year 1976. A long row of prayer wheels along the wall. My boys learned about the cultural significance of the prayer wheels and playfully continued rotating the wheels.
We again made a lunch pit stop at the Cafe Kalimpong on our way back to the city. The Pizza is thick-crusted, topped with enough cheese and sausages. Evidently, the main ingredients like cheese and sausages are locally produced. Additionally, the Burger had a huge crispy fried chicken fillet. Topped with poached egg sunny side up. The portion has accompaniments of chicken wings and chips.
Day 2 – Za Khang | Art Cafe
Za Khang opens very early, at 8 am. In the mountain, the breakfast has to be like the locals. As a result, the Himalayan breakfast is cozy, warm, and comforting. Aside, enjoy the panoramic view of the valley from Za Khang’s rooftop.
Our breakfast had Balep, a crisp Tibetan bread on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Enjoy this with dry, spicy diced potato sides (aloo dum). Without an onion-garlic potato pickle, the platter would be incomplete. Wash it down with steamy Suja (butter tea). Butter tea is a staple drink of the Himalayan countries prepared with salt and cow or yak butter.
We got bad news while having breakfast. A local union called a strike in the middle of our trip. We went during Durga Puja week. So being a peak season caused a lot of inconvenience to the tourists. We had plans to visit few more places like Deolo Hill, Lord Buddha Statue, but maybe some other time.
So spent the rest of the day lazily around in our homestay. One can expect WiFi connectivity and a smart TV package for a secluded place for a remote location. Poor connectivity and the television channel package were pretty useless. However, this helped in more family time and digital detox.
After 12 hours of the local strike, it is time for early dinner. Art Cafe is one of the coolest places in Kalimpong. The cafe is located in the city center opposite the post office. The cafe is known for its cute terrace that offers splendid views of the valley. I believe sunset is the best time to enjoy food and the Kalimpong valley view.
The cafe is well known for its thin-crust pizzas and creamy pasta. However, the pizza was not too cheesy to my preference. Despite this, enjoy nature’s beauty while sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate and delectable pastries while soaking in the beautiful views.
Day 3 – Lamahatta | Gompu’s Hotel
The day starts very early. Post breakfast at homestay, have plans to explore a little far off from Kalimpong. As I had my car, so had the liberty to explore nearby places from Kalimpong.
Lamahatta Eco Park
Lamahatta is a little more than an hour’s drive to reach this beautiful hamlet. ‘Lama’ means Buddhist monk, and ‘hatta’ means a monk’s hermitage. Lamahatta Eco Park is a made pine forest park that opened in the year 2013.
A short trek of 1 km leads to a small beautiful lake on a hilltop. If you have older adults in the group, you can rest on the plenty of benches in the trekking route. A wooden watchtower or what locals call ‘machan’ gives the best possible view of Lamahatta.
The dense forest of pine trees is filled with clouds, gives an amazing and serene view. On a mystic day, the play of lights and shadow creates a dramatic experience. Overall the park is a quiet and serene place with birds and rare orchids. Locals hoisted colourful flags along with the border of the park. The belief is the flags fluttering in the wind purifies the surroundings and the mind of the people. Park timings are from 6 am to 5 pm. The entry fee is INR 10 per adult.
We reached back town very late for lunch. If you are in Kalimpong and have not been to Gompu’s Hotel, were you really in Kalimpong? After a tiring day, nothing can be better for late lunch than some pork and chicken momos at Gompu’s Hotel. So bite on these beauties with chilled beer.
Gompu’s does not believe in the theory of thin, moist-skinned momo. Rather, the Pork Momo is thick-skinned. The momos are fluffy by using yeast, sort of mini Baos. But filling inside the momo had the right portion of minced meat, fat and minimal spices.
However, the Chicken Momo had thinner skin. My suggestion is to have steamed Pork Momo rather than the fried variant. The thick fried momo has tougher skin. Of course, if you love fried momo, then go for the chicken variant.
Day 4 – Triveni Beach | Tinchuley | Za Khang
The final day of the trip will be hectic again. Post having homestay breakfast, we moved towards a riverbank.
Triveni Beach is not known to many. The location is the confluence of river Teesta and Rangeet. The large white sandy delta is popular among river rafters and campers and surrounded by mountains. The location is 40 minutes drive from Kalimpong. If possible, stay here overnight and enjoy the campfire with your squad or loved ones amidst the cold river breeze. The spot is a hidden gem. Click here for the map.
Tinchuley is a quaint mountain village and a hidden jewel in the Darjeeling region. ‘Tin’ stands for three and ‘chuley’ for the oven. The hamlet is over an hour’s drive from Kalimpong. Tinchuley is a calm and peaceful surrounding; you may go for a walk amidst the pine and oak trees. There is hardly any traffic on the road, and you may spend the entire day just roaming in the countryside. Enjoy the mountain range and Rungli Rungliot tea estate while walking the village trail. It is a hidden trail, do not miss it.
My culinary journey is incomplete without the Bhutanese cuisine at Za Khang. Moreover, Za Khang may be the only restaurant in India serving authentic Bhutanese cuisine.
Juma is a minced beef Bhutanese sausage with a light amount of spices and rice. It is one of the favorite delicacies among Bhutanese recipes. On your first bite, you can feel the taste of the Sichuan pepper. Of course, it will send a zing sensation all through your body. Sikam Paa is a sun-dried pork belly with the right mix of fat and red chili. The smoked and crispy pork belly has sauteed the pork with dried red chillies.
Ema Datshi is a deliciously thick spicy stew made with various chilli peppers and locally produced yak cheese. Jasha Tshoem is a spicy Bhutanese chicken white curry. Ginger, garlic, onions, and chili pepper amps up the curry. Red Rice is a staple Bhutanese cuisine. Red Rice is enriched with essential minerals and dietary fiber. Enjoy red rice with chili cheese and spicy curry.
Best Time to Visit
Visit the hill station at any time of the year. Enjoy monsoon’s magic, gaze at the mountain ranges during autumn, experience winter’s chill, or enjoy flora and fauna during spring.
How to Reach
- By Air – Bagdogra (IXB) airport is 79 km from Kalimpong. Numerous option to hire a chauffeur-driven car or self-drive using Zoomcar
- By Rail – New Jalpaiguri (NJP) railway station is 77 km from Kalimpong. Again, hire a chauffeur-driven car from the station or pick up a self-driven Zoomcar
- By road – Kalimpong is well-connected to other cities of India via road. One can self-drive either in a private car or Zoomcar. Buses ply regularly from Siliguri or connected main cities.
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