32 kms South of Darjeeling, lies this scrubby town of Kuseong. It is often called the little sister of the Queen of the Hills Darjeeling, that lies further up the town. Complimented by tea estates, this is also currently the Southern Terminus of the charming toy trains of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. In 1835, the then Sikkimese king accepted the subjection of the British rule, by granting them Kurseong. Kurseong in Nepalese means Kharsang; i.e the morning polar star(according to some). The Lepcha word Kurson rip is said to be the source of the word kurseong. This is said to be in compliment to the white orchids galore around the area. This goes the other reason for the name to this city.
Kursoeng is what it became in the British tongue. Dense greenery by the pine, fir and birch trees 9(is what welcomes you on the way to Kurseong. Situated 1458 meters above sea level, 32 kms from Darjeeling lies charming Kurseong. After the railway merger of 23rd of August 1880, the importance of Kurseong has increased in the tourism map of India. It has from then on become a major junction in the toy-train and other vehicles brief halt. Devoid of all the rush and crowd that Darjeeling has succumbed to itself, Kurseong offers you peace and tranquillity along with the memories of Sister Nivedita, Atulprasad Sen, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhas. It has proven to be a health resort and mental booster for all those who visited the place. Mark Twain has also been said to have spent a few days in Kurseong in 1885.
Its climate and location has always been the sole reasons for the growth and development of this hill station. It has also been blessed with housing some of the best schools of India. Though the loveliest part of being in Kurseong is the part of being on the fairytale alike ride on the toy train. The journey on the chuffing toy train along its journey from Darjeeling to Siliguri and further to New Jalpaiguri is unforgettable. Delighting people since 1881, this shiny blue locomotive has not worn- out for 120 years in delighting people. Running on the tracks with its 4-5 tracks the toy train is a miniature, braving along with hills and valleys, gushing waterfalls, and the rivers and forests in its 8-10 hours journey.
How to reach
49 kms from the city of Siliguri is located the town of Kurseong. The means to reach the town are extensive with the options ranging from Buses, jeeps (shared) and taxis.
If you are planning to travel to Kursoeng by train, New Jalpaiguri will be your closest railhead. Kolkata, Chennai,New Delhi and Alipur are the cities that have regular connectivity to this city via train.
If you paln to reach Kurseong by flight from India you will have to board a flight to Bagdogra, which is the airport at Siliguri.
If you are at Siliguri all you have to do is follow the Hill Cart Road, enjoying the scenic link around for approximately two hours, before you reach the city of Kurseong. This runs just parallel to the railway tracks. Alternatively for a shorter, 1 hour journey, down the old Army or Pankhabari Road, which is actually a bit abrupt than the previous.
What to visit
The tea estates are galore on the slopes of Kurseong. Additionally welcoming are the huge variety of the flowers that grow on the slopes of Kurseong. Beautifully colourful and gorgeous in shape they are sure to steal your heart away. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak of the world is first visible from Kurseong. Along with there are various other glistening peaks of the Himalayas that will prove to be a feast to your eyes. 1 km up from the railway station one can clearly see the plains of Bengal. This point is popularly called the Eagle’s Craig. The Eagle’s Craig is also the point you will want to be at the point of sunset.The Shahid Smarak is the place where you can move onto pay your homage to the heroes. The water reservoir of the entire city is also located around here.
Next in line comes the Constantia and the Castleton tea estate. Further up the mountains lies the Downhill,(yes , it is called downhill) turning North East to about 12 kms. A forest museum and a forest school awaits you when you reach this place. (the museum is open from 10.30-1700 except Saturdays, Sundays nad public holidays). 4kms from Downhill, along the same path, lies the Deer park and mini amusement park. (The Deer park is open from 8-00 to 16-00 everyday except Thursdays and public holidays).The memories of Netaji’s Imprisonment In Gidda in 1936 is all alive in the Netaji Museum and Bhawan At Hill Cart Road, 2 kms from the city. 4 kms from here is the Makaibari Tea Estate. Processing and packaging of tea can be learnt in here every day except Monday; together with purchase of tea.Rohini Tourist Complex is the latest added attraction to the town. An waterfall gushing down a hill, a river making its way by, with a snippy temple nearby makes the Rohini Tourist Complex. Not to mention the lake View Point. There are also the Paglajhora Falls, Immediately after crossing the Gayabari Station on the way to Darjeeling.
What to eat
Zimba’s; along the bus and jeep depot at the end of the town; is the joint to look for fresh, tasty and cheap Tibetian and Indian food. The momos are mouth-watering and just should not be missed.
What to shop
While in Kurseong, splurge on the excellent tea available in the local tea estates or from the local shops. The tea made here has been recognised worldwide. The costliest of teas of the worls are produced in here.
Alternatively, go on and grab some woollens from the hill cart road.
Where to stay
Hotel Delhi Darbar—Just A few blocks from the train station is located this budget place, which is clean and friendly with TV and hot water bucket. The food is cheap and good, from the restaurant that is below. The aloo paratha is mouthwatering. 0354-2345862. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kurseong tourist lodge—old-fashioned government run lodge that has wood-lined rooms that have amazing views of the valley views. Whistling past this joint is the toy train, Snack on momos or enjoy the meal at this popular lodge. “Hurry burry spoils the curry” is the popular board that will drive you to this amazing joint. 0354-2345608.
Cochrane Place—With an amazing view of the tea plantations of Siliguri and its twinkling lights, this has been a destination in itself for long. This unconventional, pleasing hotel has unconventional decors by means of antiques and divans; and to top it all there is always a view from the balcony. This is the only wheelchair friendly hotel in entire Kurseong, which provides you a pick up and drop option from Bagdogra Airport and NJP Station. The Anglo-Indian Cuisine with its delicious meals, making it a good lunch stop for all people if you are travelling by. And if you are residing in the state this is the best option to stay by or to grab your meals. 0354-2330703. www.imperialchai.com.
So guys next time you are planning to a take a small trip with friends or family; go on and visit Kurseong. This small hill town is sure to refresh, replenish and rejuvenate you!