Kalimpong is a bustling bazaar town in Darjeeling district, along a ridge overlooking the roaring Teesta . It is located at an average elevation of 1,250 metres (4,101 ft). The town is the headquarters of the Kalimpong subdivision of the district of Darjeeling. The Indian Army’s 27 Mountain Division has it’s base on the outskirts of the town.
Kalimpong like Kursheong and Darjeeling is known for its Colonial schools, established by the British and Scottish Missionaries. It was once a gateway to trade links between India and Tibet prior to the Sino-Indian war and China’s annexation of Tibet.
Kalimpong’s early development as a major Himalayan trading center focused on the wool trade with Tibet, across the Jelep La Pass. Like Darjeeling, Kalimpong too once belonged to the Chogyals of Sikkim, but later was annexed by the Bhuntanese kingdom in the 18th Century, before finally falling to the British Colonial rulers, and then after Independence became a part of India.
Kalimpong throughout it’s history was sparsely populated by the indigenous Lepcha people and migrant Bhutia and Limbu tribes, during its occupancy by the Chogyal and the King of Bhutan, Nepali immigrants started pouring in after the Gorkha invasion in 1780, and after the Anglo-Bhutan War in 1864, the Treaty of Sinchula (1865) was signed and the Bhutanese held territory to the East of Teesta was ceded to the British, subsequently in 1866-67 an Anglo-Bhutanese commission demarcated the common boundaries between the British and Bhutan held regions, thereby giving shape to the Kalimpong subdivision and the Darjeeling district.
The proximity to the trade route via the old silk routes through Nathu La annd Jelep La, and the temperate climate encouraged rthge British to develop a trading township in Kalimpong, and thus a wave of Nepali immigrants was seen and Kalimpong grew economically to its peak, before being taken down from its position as the trading hub of the Eastern Hills after the permanent closing of the Jelep La pass and the Chinese annexation of Tibet.
Currently Kalimpong functions as the wholesale trading point for the hills and the center of education for the hills with famous Colonial Schools still maintaining an English style of education, there are fifteen major schools in Kalimpong, the most noteworthy of them being St Joseph’s Convent, St. Augustine’s School and Dr. Graham’s Homes.