Conquered from Sikkim by Bhutan in 1706, its name supposedly comes from ‘kaleon' and ‘pong' meaning ‘minister's bastion or fort' since it did have the presence of a Bhutanese governor for the period it remained under their rule. However, the Lepcha who were there long before are said to have called it ‘kalibong' meaning ‘the ridge where we play'. In 1865, after the Anglo-Bhutan War, British India brought it under its control on taking into account its advantage as an outpost for trade with Tibet, which, as a matter of fact, they did accomplish in establishing.
Till the early 1950's until China shut down Tibet's border, Kalimpong flourished as a trading post. Trade with Tibet brought in caravans of musk, hides, furs, turquoise, coral, gold, herbs and minerals of medicinal value, and especially lamb wool. Soon large godowns were built where thousands found employment in sorting, drying and baling wool that came from Tibet. In exchange, the Tibetan traders took back cloth, tea, sugar and other food produces.
Alongside the trade with Tibet, the arrival of missionaries also saw to an early expansion of Kalimpong from a sleepy hamlet to a sizeable town that it is today. Schools and hospitals were established as early as 1873, and even till today the town's reputation as an educational center is known far and wide.
Compared to Darjeeling and Sikkim, Kalimpong is less well known. However it is a quaint cosmopolitan hill town with an all round temperate weather. It is famous for its schools, flower nurseries and a green and leafy suburban landscape that provides for relaxed living amidst the bounties of nature. The town itself may seem unruly and chaotic but its shops provide all provisions for day to day living that will not make one miss the city.
Ideally Kalimpong should be more than the one night stop that it has become for visitors either beginning their trip into the region or ending their sojourn. The common refrain amongst Yuru guests is that they should have planned for staying a few more nights. Repeat guests therefore always increase the length of their stay after having once succumbed to the charms of the Yuru ambiance and service.
Some farsighted guests have made Yuru their base from where they have explored Darjeeling and the adjoining areas. When one realizes that Kalimpong’s location allows for travel to Darjeeling, Siliguri, Gangtok, Namchi all within 3 hours, that kind of planning makes sense.