When the toy train reaches the town of Kurseong at around mid-day, you will see the area around the station bustling with activity. Crowds of people thronging around shops, tea-vendors and restaurants, travellers on the way to Darjeeling settling down for a quick lunch, porters unloading luggage, taxi drivers getting ready for passengers. Meanwhile, the engine is de-linked from the train and shuttled out on a different track to the yard at one end of the town. Then it comes back and and is re-attached to the train from the opposite end emitting white steam scarcely different from the wisps of fog swirling all around the place. There is a chill in the mountain air and if the sun is visible, it is pleasantly warm.
If you walk a little distance away from the station to the roadside or up the steep road to Dowhill, you get a view of the plains far below stretching to the horizon like a great carpet laid out at the feet of the majestic mountains. During the season just before the monsoon, it is a pleasure to watch rain clouds cling to the blue-green slopes and accumulate at the top the mountain ranges.
A good place to put up in Kurseong is the Tourist Lodge built by the Tourist department in the northern outskirts of the town. A walk of about three kilometres from here is the St. Mary's Hill where the grotto near the Rangers' College is a spot you should not miss. In the forest just above stands a large statue of Jesus Christ spreading his arms wide open. The road through the forest leads up to Deorali and Dowhill completing a circuit around the town.
In Kurseong, you can go for long walks uphill to the Forest School and Dowhill where the Deer Park is set amidst miles of coniferous forests and greenery. It is here that century old residential schools were built by British settlers in the calm and peaceful surroundings free from pollution and noise.
From there, meandering through the evergreen forests, the sixteen kilometres long Old Military Road leads to charming high altitude settlements like Chimney and Bagora.
is perhaps this vantage point that made Kuseong, "the place of White
Orchids", popular among many great personalities, especially writers
and poets. Mark Twain spent some days here in 1885. Rabindranath Tagore
often visited this place and is said to have composed many poems here. His
elder brother, the painter Abanindranath Tagore, who was the founder of
the Bengal School of Painting was inspired a great deal by the beautiful
spots around this town. Sister Nivedita, the famous disciple of Swami Vivekananda
aslo settled down in Kurseong.
During India's struggle for Independence, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was interned at Giddapahar by the British government for two months.
All around the town, the slopes are covered with tea bushes which yield some of the finest varieties of Darjeeling tea in the world: Castleton, Makaibari, Ambootia...
The most prominent feature of the town is the TV tower at Eagle's Crag dominating the western skyline. A short walk from the station takes you to Eagle's Crag viewpoint form where there is a breathtaking view of the plains below. In the north, you will see the snow-capped Kanchendzonga beyond the Ghoom ridge for the first time on your way to Darjeeling.
Once the headquarters of the Himalayan railways, Kurseong has been an important centre of commercial activity being well-connected to the plains through alternative routes like the Pankhabari road.
Sunset hour is an unforgettable experience in these slopes. Each day when the sun goes down below the opposite ridge, the sky is aflame with colours that only nature's pallette can conjure. At night, lights from distant settlements in the plains are visible in the south glowing like fireflies in the dark. If you love nature and peaceful surroundings, if you like lazy afternoons and splendid nights illumined by starry skies, you might not want to say goodbye to Kurseong at all.
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