Shopping in Kalimpong - Top Buys & Stores
There are essentially two main market areas in Kalimpong that are full of shops. The most popular is the market along Rish road which is the main road here. From the tri-junction main market square, the road leads through the market area.
There are numerous stores selling all kinds of goods on both sides of Rishi road. You can certainly bargain the prices here. On one side of the street, you will find taxis lined up (this is also the main taxi stand where you can get taxis for sightseeing and transfers).
The second market area is at 10th mile, further down along Rishi Road. You can walk down to this place (about 1km from the town square). However this is the whole sale market and prices are fixed. But prices are also very reasonable and you can buy in small or large quantities as you wish.
This market used to be once very popular. During first half of 1900s when heavy trading took place with Tibet through the Silk Route with mules carrying the loads, lots of imported goods including silk material, gold jewelry etc used to be parked here and sold. The market is still popular for quality clothes and dress materials that are sold at low prices. In fact if you visit the RC Mintri road at 10th Mile, you will find large many Marwadi stores selling clothes at very attractive prices.
Rishi Road Market, Kalimpong
On the left are taxis
Another place you must visit is the Haat Bazar of Kalimpong. It's a local village market which sets up weekly on every Wednesday and Saturday between 7am to 6.30pm. it can be reached from Rishi road. Villagers from nearby areas come in their colorful village costumes, sets up stalls and sells all kinds of items including vegetables & farming products, spices, clothes, umbrellas, bags and more.
And they are all very cheap. Probably the cheapest you can ever get. The bazaar is a scene by itself to get a good feel of the local people and their culture. You will also get the opportunity to try out local street food like momos, alu thukpa, phambis and lot more.
What to buy in Kalimpong?
Kalimpong town is quite well developed and the district is large. So you virtually get everything here. But you don't want to buy stuffs that you can also get back at home. So here are the stuffs that you should be looking for. You will get most of these from the market places I have discussed earlier:
1) Dallay Khorsani: They are round and red, and look somewhat like cherries. Although they look cool, they are some of the hottest chilli peppers I have ever had. But they add a great flavor and aroma when used in curries or Chinese dishes. You will get fresh ones at the Haat Bazaar and also with local roadside vendors. Some shops on Rishi road also sell them bottled with preservatives.
2) Kalimpong Cheese and Lollypops: Ask any locals and they will vouch for this. There used to be a Swiss Dairy in Kalimpong which no longer exists. Catholic Swiss priests had originally introduced this rich cheese and also showed the method of making such mouthwatering cheese to some locals. The tradition still continues and you will get them in Kalimpong all through the year in several stores.
3) Fing: This is also known as Glass Noodles. Locally made noodles available in packets. It's made by the cottage industry in Kalimpong during the dry months of October to June. It tastes different and great ... do take some back home.
4) Handmade Paper Products: You will get various paper products that are so beautifully handmade in Kalimpong. You won't get them anywhere else in Darjeeling hills. Items like shopping bags, wrapping papers, stationery and more.
5) Tibetan Art & Craft: There is a lot of Tibetan population in Kalimpong. Over the years Tibetan art & handicraft industry has flourished here. You will get items like Thankas which are intricately made religious scroll paintings, woolen garments, various wood crafted items serving as great souvenirs, tapestry bags & purses and lot more.
Some nice shops to visit
As I already mentioned, you will get most items of interest in the main market along Rishi Road, and also at 10th mile market area and Haat Bazar. Below I have mentioned a few stores & establishments that are special and worth a visit:
Kashi Nath & Sons - A Book Store. There are two shops adjacent to each other having excellent collection of books on tourism as well as culture & religion. This in my view is the best book store in Kalimpong. You will get books on Buddhism, how Tibet has evolved and its history, culture of Nepal, Sikkim tourism and lot more.
Girish Kaul, Owner of Kashi Nath & Sons Book Store
When I asked Girish to show me some books on Kalimpong and surrounding areas, he kept on piling books on the table until I asked him to stop. Kashi Nath & Sons is located on DB Giri Road (further down from Main Market). Phone: 03552-255856.
Tashi Takgye - A great Souvenir, Art & Craft Store located at 10th Mile. This is a very well known store in Kalimpong. You will get great collections of paintings, glass & crystal items, Thankas & wall hangings, masks and lot more. Prices are very reasonable and fixed. Phone: 03552-256897, Cell: +91-9434007076
Kalimpong Art Gallery: This is a nice art gallery tucked in one corner and not well known to the tourists. I must say I was impressed with the painting collections which are mostly created by local artists. There is an entry fee of Rs. 10/- per person. Photography is not allowed inside. However the lady manager Rupa made a special allowance for me. After all I am a travel writer :) .
Kalimpong Art Gallery
It's open 7 days a week. The main entrance to the gallery is common with Summit Garden Retreat & Spa. Address: Barsana Road, Upper Cart Road, Kalimpong. Update October 2019: Kalimpong Art Gallery seems to have closed down.
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