Fifty kilometers from Siliguri and thirty from Darjeeling at an elevation of 4,864 feet, stands the hill station of kurseong. The natural advantage of a congenial climate and elevation, lush green forests and tea plantation over slopes and ridges, magnificent views of the panoramic setting of snow_clad peaks make this tiny Himalayan hill station worth exploring. Located at a lower elevation for those who dislike the serve winters of Darjeeling, kurseong enjoys a mider and a very healthy climate throughout the year. It is the peace, serenity and the healthy climate of Kurseong, that attracted many a great person to this place. Some of the famous poems and songs to rabindra nath tagore were composed kurseong. The magic painter rabanindra nath tagore and the great composer atul Prasad sen got inspiration for some of their famous works around kurseong. Sister nivedita, the great disciple of Swami vivekanand made kurseong her home. It is learnt that mark twain spent some time in kurseong in 1885. Fazlul Haque, the prime minister of undivided Bengal also stayed here. Netaji subash Chandra Bose was interned by the colonial Government for a couple of months in 1936 in a house at Giddapahar near Kurseong.
The view of the snow from Kurseong in the north consists of the summits of Kanchenjunga, kabru and jannu above the saddle of the Ghoom range. In the south, on a clear day, standing on Eagle’s crag or indeed at any point on the ridge running west from the town towards Constantia, the spectator commands a wonderful view of the plains receding to a distant horizon 150 kilometers away. The dense evergreen forests at the base of the hills are criss_crossed by silvery shafts of innumerable rivers, which originate in the hills and gradually widen their absence to the plains of terai.
A sunset view from any part of the town especially from Eagle’s crag or Constantia is an experience not easily forgotten. As the red sun sinks behind the hills, the sky becomes a riot of colours_ orange, yellow,pink, tinges of azure and sea Green blending into one another to create indescribable hues. With the evening star in the west, the hills start lighting up their own star like clusters. Down south, one could see this rapidly growing Siliguri town and its outstkirt, like a Diwali night studded with millions of lamps. The illumination in the distant horizon of the town of Jalpaiguri, Gazadoba Teesta project and sometimes even townships of Lalmanirhat and Saidpur, both in Bangladesh, is Enchanting.
The rich flora of the place is fascinating, and it has aptly been described as a “Botanist’s paradise.’ With the first showers in May , after a relatively dry winter and spring, the river beds glitter in the light of the sun like silver lines, while the sunlight and dappled shadows play hide and seek on the higher slopes of the valley. Sometimes on a clear day, one can see the clouds piling up in the plains and advancing, slowly but relentlessly to cover foothills.
Whenever, one turns one’s eyes, one can see the undulating hills covered with the soft green cushions of tea shrubs. Some of the best Darjeeling tea,’ the champagne of teas’ is produced in and around Kurseong. Tea lovers from all over the world savour the exotic flavours produced in such well known tea estate as Jungpana,Castleton,Goomtee,Singell<springside,Ambootia and Makaibari,all situated around Kurseong. Above all the Darjeeling Tea research centre, located here,is relentlessly striving for excellence in quality tea producton. Apart from the charm and beauty that nature has bestowed upon Kurseong, the tourism infrastructure in Kurseong is fat developing.
A kilometer’s easy ascent on J.M.Goenka Road, a road branching off from Tenzing Norgay Road, immediately east to the Railway Station,reaches one to the top of Eagle’s crag. St the summit is the newly developed tourist complex, having a well laid garden, a geodesic dome and an observatory cum restaurant. The observatory offers a magnificent view of the colour rolling on the snow_clad Kanchenjunga peak, the excellent sunset, distant views of the plains and the panoramic view of the entire Kurseong town and balasun valley are all available from one point. One feature of the landscape, that cannot fail to strike an observer here is the suddenness with which the hills dip down into the plains.
Downhill, four kilometers above Kurseong town is one of the most scenic areas around. The famous Downhill and Victoria Schools(founded in 1879)and the West Bengal Forest School(founded in 1907) are located at Downhill. The Forest School’s rich Forest museum, the Deer Park with amusement Park facilities, including a newly constructed Cafeteria and an arboretum, overlooking a huge water reservoir in the deep tranquility of the conifers, make Downhill, an immediate attraction for tourists and picknickers. A delightful easy walk through the forest of Cryptomaria Japonica on the road , now called Aranya Sarani, leads to the vast open meadows at Chimney. The curious name of the place is reminiscent of the days, when there was a staging Bungalow here on the only road(Old Military Road) leading to Darjeeling, a long Chimney is the only remnant of this.
Further up on Aranya Sarani is a wonderful Forest Village, Bangora. A large number of forest roads radiate along different apurs leading to Mongpoo,Latpanchar,Dilaram etc. the uniform temperature and climate of this place finds flavour with a variety of flora and hence the place is of rare botanical interest. The adventure of trekking through these forests, with a varied topography, flora and fauna offers education and scenic beauty, which are comparable to the best of the pony or trekking trails anywhere in the world.
Nearly four kilometers from Kurseong Railway Station in an elegant mansion in the deep woods of St. Mary’s hill is housed the Eastern Forest Rangers’ College(EFRC). Earlier the campus was the site of St. Mary’s seminary, the first such Seminary to the east of Suez. A statue of Jesus and Mary and the newly built St. johns Church, an example of modern architectural excellence are also located on the hill. One can find one’s way to the Downhill from here.
In addition there are others places around Kurseong that offer wonderful viewpoints and sites for picnickers. A picnic at kettle valley picnic spot at Dilaram Tea Estate on the banks of the river Rinchingtong offers you a rare opportunity to play in its crystal clear waters in the back drop of snow_clad mountains. A picnic at Mandir picnic spot below shiv Mandir amidst the orange orchards in Ambootia Tea Estate is a delightful experience. Being on the flat stretches of the land around the banks of river Balason at Namshu surrounded by hills on all sides is an enthralling experience and provides a beautiful camping ground. The natural lake formation here is an important spot for trout fishing. An enthusiastic tourist may trek his way to Mirik, the lake town of Darjeeling hills, nearly eight kilometers from here. The view of the Ambootia Landslide , nearly a kilometer and a half wide and drooping down a thousand meters to Balasun Valley is awesome.
The promontory at Giddapahar offers you a view of Tenzing Norgay Road winding down the hills to the plains like a serpent uncoiling. Kurseong town is easily accessible both from Siliguri and Darjeeling. Being located at the junction of the Old Military Road and the Tenzing Norgau Roads, Kurseong is hardly ever cut off from the plains because of landslides. Convenient buses and an efficient taxi service is available for kurseong from siliguri as well as darjeeling.Once could also avail of the delightful Toy Train service.It is wort recalling here that Kurseong used to be the headquarter of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (now popularly called the Toy Train Service) for many years.
Kurseong is an important center for education. Apart from the famous Schools like Dowhill, Victoria, Goethals and S.t Helens, there are a large number of English medium schools for children with boarding facilities. A visitors to kurseong has quite a wide range of moderately priced but comfortable places to choose from his stay here. Foremost among st Youth hostel on pankhabari road. There are also a number of private hotels like Jeet Hotel, Shyams Hotel, Hilltop hotel and Amarjeet Hotel all around the railway station and plaza hotel further up the hill cart road. Besides these places, there are also the inspection Bungalow of the P.W.D ,the W.B.S.E.B and the M.E.S. The railways also have ta guest house near the tourist center and there is a forest bungalow at dowhill. For those who wish to spend some time away from the town there is a bungalow at Namshu, by the side of The River Balason.
Apart from all there, the people of this place are joyous and fun loving and welcome visitors with warmth and hospitality.
Once considered only a stop on the way to Darjeeling, Kurseong is a fast becoming heaven for tourist in the search for an ideal holiday. Give yourself the vacation you deserve. Come to Kurseong.