Once an important trading town where branches of the ancient Silk Route met, the hill station of Kalimpong (1250m/4000ft) is a two hour drive through forests and tea gardens east of Darjeeling. Although located in West Bengal it is often visited during a tour of Sikkim to which it once belonged. Spread over a ridge above the Teesta River and in sight of Kanchenjunga, it comes alive on Wednesdays and Saturdays when villagers gather to sell local vegetables and herbal medicines, woollen yarn and textiles. On other days you can fill the hours with flowers by visiting some of the specialist nurseries that grow orchids, amaryllis, dahlias and gladioli.

As the town passed between the rulers of different kingdoms there are a number of monasteries in and around the town representing different sects and branches of Buddhism. The Thongsa Gompa, or Bhutanese Monastery is surrounded by 219 prayer wheels. Spin each one to send your prayers to heaven.

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