The charming colonial hill station of Kurseong in North Bengal lies at an altitude of 4783 feet above sea level and falls under the Darjeeling district. At one time the summer retreat of many a famous people, the tranquility of this tiny hill station makes for a refreshing break from the noise and dust of big city life. The name Kurseong translates to ‘The Land of White Orchids’ in Lepcha language that justifies its dense cover of lush vegetation dotted with colorful blooms. Characterized by softly undulating terrain with occasional clusters of tall trees and vast expanses of contoured tea plantations, Kurseong makes for an extremely soothing and fulfilling vacation.
Best time to visit (March to May) – Kurseong is essentially a summer escapade and the summer months of March to May is the peak tourist season. The weather is extremely pleasant with temperatures between 8 to 20 degrees Celsius. Daytimes have the mild heat of soft sunrays while the nights are a bit chilly and would require light woolen clothes. It is advisable to book hotels well in advance as most of the hotels have full-house during this time.
Good time to visit (December to February) – The winter months of December to February is also a very good time to visit Kurseong. Temperatures go down as low as 3 degrees Celsius and heavy woolen clothes are required. However, the hills are enveloped in heavy mist during this time making the environment more charming and mystic.
Visit with caution (June to November) – Kurseong received quite heavy showers of rainfall during the monsoon months of June to November. The steep and narrow mountain roads become slippery and perilous with great risks of landslides making it better to avoid a visit during this time.
By Road – Due to its steep and rugged terrain, Kurseong is accessible mostly by road. Hired jeeps that are available in abundance from Bagdogra, New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri can take you to Kurseong. Siliguri has a bus terminus from where buses go to Kurseong throughout the day. The drive is a breath-taking one, passing through beautiful valleys, tiny little villages with their small wooden houses, along the gurgling Teesta River and the sharp hairpin bends of the road as you climb higher up. You may want to halt at a road side occasionally, taking a little break and listening to the whisper of the tree leaves and the shrill cries of birds.
By Rail – The nearest railway station is the New Jalpaiguri Junction from where it’s about a 1.5hrs drive to Kurseong. The station is connected with all other major railway stations of India.
Alternatively: The Darjeeling Toy Train runs from New Jalpaiguri Station to Darjeeling and halts at the Kurseong railway station. The toy train can be booked directly from the station.
By Air – Bagdogra Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 60kms from Kurseong. The busy airport is serviced by all major flights both international and domestic. Pre-paid cabs are available from the airport and take around 1.5hrs to reach the town.
The small hill-station is blessed with beautiful valleys with mesmerizing views of the Himalayan Range and packs into it quite a few interesting places to look out for. Some of these are:
Must Visit Places in Kurseong
Dowhill, the little wooded hill in Kurseong looks as mystifying and as enchanting as the name itself sounds. The moss green hill, shaded by a canopy of tall trees with streaks of sunrays filtering through their leaves emanates a subtle romantic charm mingled with an eerie silence that engulfs the area. Adding to the intrigue are the various rumors of sightings of the ghost of a headless boy roaming around the woods that make Dowhill rank high up in India’s most haunted places list. As one walks through the mist-covered narrow mountain road, the massive castle-like mansion of Dowhill School appears, as if unfolding from the pages of a fairy-tale book. Stop and have a little chat with the red-cheeked kids playing in the courtyard and their polite friendliness will instantly entice you.
The nearby Deer Park is a good place to spend some quiet time and wander around in the serenity of nature. There is also a small amusement park to keep the kids busy and a Forest Museum that displays quite a selection of items related to forestry. As you reach the hill-top, you are greeted by the sheer beauty of the surrounding snow-peaked mountains and the vast valleys dotted with colorful houses and meadows. There is a well-maintained rest house for tourists to freshen up before they start for their journey back to Kurseong. Dowhill is a place to simply enjoy a walk, breathe in the different fragrances of nature and catch the soothing whisper of leaves broken by the call of birds!
2. Makaibari Tea Estate
North Bengal is the largest producer of the authentic Darjeeling Tea and most parts of the area including Kurseong are dotted with sprawling tea estates. Though in recent times, many new tea estates have sprouted, the oldest and largest among them remains the Makaibari Tea Estate dating back to 1859. Being handed down through generations from its first owner, the tea estate has witnessed a crucial part of the British Era. Located at 4500 feet above sea level, the Makaibari Tea Estate stands in about 274 hectares of sprawling tea garden with a huge factory and the residential house in the midst of it. The estate and the factory are open to tourists who can take guided tours of both. A walk through the tea garden fills you with wonder as there is much to learn from the workers about tea harvesting and processing. One can try their hand in tea plucking, sorting and tea tasting making for a memorable experience. A tour of the factory shows you in details how the tea leaves are sorted, dried and packaged. Be sure to buy a packet of their highest-selling and most expensive Silver Tips brand of tea to take back home!
The estate also has a home-stay, well equipped with modern amenities where tourists can stay for a couple of days to enjoy the sights and sounds of the aromatic tea plantation.
Should Visit Places in Kurseong
3. Netaji Museum
Netaji Museum in Giddhapahar, Kurseong holds a mark of historic significance and provides a learning experience for tourists. The house, now turned into the museum was once the residence of India’s famous freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose when he was placed there on house arrest way back in 1936. Over the years, every item in the house has been carefully preserved and includes a wide range of things used by Netaji. As you walk into the museum, a spacious outer room greets you with a huge display of laminated documents, letters, and newspaper clippings of important national events during the Indian National Movement and framed photographs of the erstwhile freedom fighters of India. The bedroom has a massive four-poster bed on which Netaji had once slept. Two other rooms display a plethora of items that once belonged to and used by the great personality.
- Opening Timings – 10:00am to 6:00pm everyday
*Shoes to be removed before entering; photography is not allowed.
4. Eagle’s Crag View Point
One of the best and most popular view-points in Kurseong, Eagle’s Craig has a concrete tower with a platform that provides a stunning 360 degrees bird’s eye view of Kurseong and its neighbors. Located in the midst of the pristine beauty of nature, the view-point looks down upon green rolling hills, sparkling emerald meadows, the vast contoured tea plantations and the glowing River Teesta spiraling through the narrow gorges of the valleys. Far into the horizon appears the silhouette of the snow-clad Kanchenjunga and other mountains floating wondrously in the clouds. Evening is the best time to visit the Eagle’s Craig when the sun goes done in hues of red, orange and yellow making for some excellent photography.
Can Visit Places in Kurseong
5. Kurseong Tourist Lodge
Kurseong is best enjoyed if you stay at the legendary Kurseong Tourist Lodge, an accommodation run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. Located on Hill Cart Road at the heart of Kurseong, the lodge is a budget accommodation equipped with all kinds of modern facilities. Some of the rooms in the lodge have balconies that open up to a mesmerizing view of the snow-clad peaks far into the distance. The Darjeeling toy train tracks run right on the road opposite the tourist lodge and one can wave merrily to the passengers while a train chugs by at snail’s pace. Right opposite to the tourist lodge, set on a slightly elevated land bordering the train track is the bright yellow Church of St.Paul the Apostle. Throughout the day, the soothing sound of the songs sung by the church choir during mass can be heard from inside the tourist lodge. Waking up early in the morning with the sight of a radiant sunrise and the whistle of the morning toy train, the church bell adding to the charm makes you fall in love with the new day as you prepare for yet another site-seeing tour.
6. Cambodia Shiva Mandir
Located at 5kms from Kurseong and standing tall and proud on the grounds of the Ambotia Tea Estate, the massive structure of the Ambotia Shiva Mandir attract tourists in hoards as much for its architecture as for devotional purpose. The Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located in an isolated spot flanked by an orange orchard. One has to trek a few kilometers through spiraling narrow paths inside the tea estate to reach the temple. The huge temple is cut out of rock with deep patterns skillfully curved out on its outer façade. The temple grounds provide breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges. Be sure to walk down a few meters to the site of the nearby Ambodia Lanslide that falls steeply down to Balasan.
Opening Timings – 6:00am to 7:00pm everyday
The little town of Kurseong with its friendly charming hill people and serene and sublime surroundings that reflects the pure untouched beauty of nature instantly throws a magical spell on you, making your vacation a worthwhile one!