Kurseong is a sub-divisional town in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. The town is located almost midway between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The elevation of the town is about 1500 meter and it is about 43 km or an hours drive from the nearest rail station (NJP) and airport (Bagdogra).
Kurseong is an ideal hill station for people who want to derive the pleasures of being in an alpine surrounding without worrying about higher altitudes and bone-chilling cold weather. Kurseong does not suffer from severe winters; and a healthy, comfortable climate is prevalent throughout the year.
Kurseong is famous for the white orchids that adorn the hill-slopes in abundance, giving it the name of “The land of the white orchids”. The white orchids are called “Kurson Rip” by the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of the land. The name Kurseong (pronounced Khorsang by the locals) is believed to have derived from there.
“Kurseong is 5000 ft. above sea-level. Those who stray off the main Paths in damp weather must take precautions against the leeches, which are Numerous. There are no tigers, but Panthers sometimes carry off cattle.” John Murray 1901
Before the British came to the area the area was mostly occupied by the Lepcha people, considered the original inhabitants of the Sikkim – Darjeeling area. The area was mostly under the control of Sikkim king though being under Nepalese influence for some intermittent period. In 1828 two British officers Captain Lloyd and J.W. Grant visited the area and they were impressed by the natural beauty of Darjeeling and Kurseong area. They started negotiating a lease deed with the Sikkim government and eventually took over the area from Sikkim in 1835 thus starting a new era of development. Over the next few decades, road and rail lines were laid and Kurseong got connected with the rest of the world. Kurseong became a municipality in 1879.
In 1880, the small hamlet became a tourist destination for the colonial authorities and was a preferred place for sanatoriums where the sick would recuperate. Thereafter, the Kurseong T.B. Sanatorium was built because the climate and environment were healthy and rejuvenating for the sick and elderly.
The serenity and beauty of Kurseong have also attracted and inspired famous personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Atul Prasad Sen, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and Sister Nivedita. Mark Twain is also supposed to have visited Kurseong in 1885 and spent some time here. It is believed that Rabindranath Tagore was inspired to write a few poems when he visited the hill station while Netaji Subhash Chandra was sent to Kurseong for his internship in 1936; the house he stayed is still restored in Giddapahar, a few kilometers from Kurseong.
The original road connecting Siliguri in the plains and Darjeeling is known as the Hill Cart Road. Later it was renamed as Tenzing Norgay road in the name of the first climber of Mount Everest who was a resident of Darjeeling town. However, locals still prefer to call the road by its old name. The Hill Cart Road is given the status of National Highway 110. Through this route, the distance from Bagdogra Airport or NJP to Kurseong is about 54 km. Though this is the longest route, it offers some great mountain views to the tourists.
Over the last couple of decades, two other routes have become more popular for visiting Kurseong. One is the old Pankhabari road. This is probably the oldest road to Kurseong and used to be scarily steep earlier. The turns in the road would take a real hill expert to drive a vehicle through. Presently the turns and curves on the road have been smoothened but still for a new driver in the hilly terrain this route is not recommended. Also, note this route may be kept one way open during parts of the day depending on the decisions of the local administration. So although this route reduces your travel time, be sure to inquire before traveling through this road.
The fastest, easiest and by far the best route to reach Kurseong is through the Rohini route. This road has been constructed only recently and hence there is a toll on the road. The distance through this route from Aiport or NJP to Kurseong is about 43 km.
Kurseong is famous for its Tea. As you leave the small town you can find acres of verdant slopes covered with tea bushes – one of the finest varieties of Darjeeling Tea is found in the tea gardens surrounding Kurseong. The finest teas are produced by Castleton, Makaibari and Ambootia Tea Estate. Visitors can have a firsthand experience of how tea leaves are processed and prepared for production by visiting the nearby tea factories.
Even though Kurseong has lagged behind in the race to become a preferred tourist destination compared to its glamorous counterpart Darjeeling, there is a tranquillity and peace about the place that does not fail to affect a visitor – and that quest for peace and tranquillity brings him back again.
Eagle’s Craig viewpoint – About 500 meters from the main town is the location of this viewpoint. Walk through narrow lanes towards the Kurseong TV tower area. Cross the TV tower and just ahead is the Eagle’s Craig viewpoint. The aptly named viewpoint is perched on top of a cliff. You can have great views of the plains far and wide from here. View of the Siliguri town down in the plains can be seen from here. The place also has a concrete altar built in the park with a Khukri on top called Shahid Smarak; it was built by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council to pay tribute to the lives that were lost in the agitation of 1988. There is also a large water reservoir which is used to supply water in the surrounding area from here. Due to its vantage location, almost all cell phone companies have put up their towers in the area which can be an eyesore in the otherwise serene environment.
Dow Hill Area – From the main market, a steep road climbs uphill towards the Dow Hill area. This is the original Hill Cart Road connecting Kurseong with Darjeeling. As the new version of the Hill cart road came up, this road was renamed as the “Old Cart Road”. From Kurseong you have to climb just a kilometer or so to enter the Downhill eco-park area. The forested area is maintained by the state forest department and there is a forest ranger training college here. The Deer Park in the vicinity has a large number of Deers which used to roam freely in the area before the human population growth needed their enclosure and protection. Near the Deerpark is a water reservoir from where you can have a good view of the plains. In the same Dow Hill area, you can also visit the forest museum maintained by the forest department.
Giddapahar Area – The Giddapahar area is also quite popular among tourists. The hill is just southeast of Kurseong town. There is a nice viewpoint at Giddapahar that provides a great view of the mountains and is a great place for taking photographs. Nearby there is the Seti Mata Temple that is carved out of ancient rock and is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The Netaji Museum at Giddapahar is also a popular tourist attraction. The house was owned by Sarat Chandra Bose, elder Brother of Subhas Chandra Bose. Both brothers, as well as other dignitaries such as Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, had stayed here. The house has now been converted into a museum with four rooms where Indian Museum of Kolkata developed and showcased galleries of exhibits.
Schools of Kurseong – Kurseong is famous as an education hub. The schools here are not only famous for the education they provide but also their construction and location make them a tourist attraction in their own right. The Dowhills Girls School provides a glimpse of the British era with its architecture and elegance. This school is well known for its beautiful location surrounded by pine trees and the quality of education it provides. Victoria Boy’s School was also created by the British and still maintains its Victorian looks and fame. Both the school are associated with stories of being haunted.
The Hill around Kurseong
Grotto – The grotto houses the statue of the Virgin Mary and is located in a beautiful surrounding that takes you to another place and time. The hill itself is named St. Mary’s Hill after the Grotto. The area just North of Kurseong town also has a St. Mary’s Church and is frequented by the local Christian community.
Bhangzang Salamander Lake – It is located 14 km from Kurseong. In the past, it used to be a favorite place for the British and people from the neighboring towns used to hang out here frequently. A relatively unknown getaway among the tourist destinations in Darjeeling brought to you by naturebeyond. It is a beautiful green-tinged lake that shelters the rarest and most endangered species of salamanders – a species under threat of extinction.
The Old Cart Road – If you are looking for serenity at its best, travel through the old cart road from Kurseong to Dilaram. This can be a day walk or a car ride. Immediately after crossing Kurseong you will be in the Daw hill area described earlier. From here on you will be passing through the ridge on one side of which is the Teesta river (though not visible from here) on the other side is the Kanchenjunga massif looming large over your head. There are numerous beautiful villages on this route including Chimney, Deorali, and others. Eventually, you will reach Bagora. From here you can go down a steep road to Dilaram back to the National Highway, or continue further to explore the Chattakpur forest area. This area is one of the best in terms of natural beauty and is also one of the least explored by tourists.
The Cochrane Place is a boutique hotel in Kurseong that is arguably one of the better accommodations here. The West Bengal Tourism manages its tourist lodge which is famous among travelers for the food it serves, the accommodation here is equally good. A few new accommodations including resorts and homestays have also come up in and around Kurseong during the last few years. For more specific information and booking, feel free to get in touch with our travel advisors by filling the form below.