Kurseong is a sub-division of Darjeeling district. In 1835 it was handed over to the British by the King of Sikkim. It was a small village then. However it gained importance when the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train service was extended to Kurseong in August 1880. It then became the Head Quarter of the subdivision.
Kurseong town on the hill slope
So is Kurseong a place worth a vacation stay for tourists? I would certainly say yes. Although from the face of it, it looks like a congested township which has grown predominantly along the Hill Cart Road that passes through the mountains. But if you start exploring the spreads of Kurseong, it starts exposing its charm.
The Name Kurseong means 'The place of white orchids'. So as expected, white orchids grow in abundance in this area. The area is also full of beautiful tea gardens, forests and year round vegetation on the hill slopes. From some parts of Kurseong, you get magnificent views of Mt. Kanchejunga, Kabru and Jannu, and the meandering rivers Teesta and Mahananda flowing down to the lower plains and medows.
The toy train track runs alongside the road. The whistling sound of the steam engine can often be heard from your room and you can come out to see the mini train negotiating its way through the mountains. Overall a very romantic feeling.
Kurseong main township (see the toy train track)
Kurseong has seen many special personalities in the past. Nobel Laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore composed several of his poems in Kurseong. The great disciple of Swami Vivekananda Sister Nivedita settled down here. Mark Twain also spent some time in the place in 1885. And in 1936 Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was confined for couple of months by the British in a Bungalow at Kurseong. The buangalow is now a well known Museum with many original furniture and other belongings of Netaji.
Kurseong Railway Station
Kurseong is located in Darjeeling district and is on National Highway NH 55 (I.e. Hill Cart Road) that originates from Siliguri and goes all the way to Darjeeling. It's about mid way to Darjeeling and you can easily combine a couple of nights stay here when you plan a vacation in and around Darjeeling. The altitude of Kurseong is moderate 4,864 ft and therefore the climate for most part of the year also remains temperate. However it can get quite cold during the winter.
From Siliguri, the distance to Kurseong is 51kms. From New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station, the distance is about 57 kms and from Bagdogra airport Kurseong is 60kms. From Bagdogra the usual route is via Matigara and Rohini. From NJP and Siliguri, the public transports would usually take the Hill Cart Road unless it's closed for some reason. It takes about 2 hours to reach Kurseong from both Bagdogra and NJP. Darjeeling is about 33 kms from Kurseong and takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to reach.
To get a visual idea of all the road routes from the plains of Siliguri to Kurseong (including from NJP and Bagdogra), go through Road Routes to Darjeeling
To know the details about road routes to Kurseong from Bagdogra, available transports at Bagdogra airport, sites and restaurants along the route, go through Road Routes & Transports from Bagdogra
Sites & Sightseeing Tours
Kurseong has several great view points offering spectacular views of the landscapes along with views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks. There are scenic tea gardens, great heritage schools here which the British had established. You can visit some nice museums (including DHR Museum that showcases original railway archives & exhibits), tea estates & factories, temples and even remote villages to know the life and culture of the locals.
The highlights of the sightseeing points in Kurseong includes...
Hanuman Tok, a Hanuman Temple and a huge statue of lord Hanuman that have been erected at a high altitude location which also serves as one of the best viewpoints of Darjeeling... on a clear day, you get magnificent view of Kurseong Town on the slopes of the mountain and the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga from here. The picture above as well as the first picture on this page have been taken from here.
Eagles Craig, a lovely park with manicured garden with statues of dragons that resemble the Jurassic Park. It also has an observation tower to soak in the lovely views all around.
Giddapahar Viewpoint, another viewpoint located in the Giddapahar area that offers sweeping view of the valley and Kanchenjunga.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum... this is where Netaji Subhash was kept in house captivity by the British during 1933 to 1935.
Dowhill Forest Museum... an outstanding museum maintained by the forest department that showcases real-life models and preserves of the Himalayan flora and fauna including large animals, birdlife and plants.
Chimney Heritage Park & Viewpoint: Located near Chimney Village, this park has been created centering around a large chimney which is the only remnant of a heritage house that was built during the British colonial days.
Ambootia Tea Estate & Shiv Temple... a picturesque tea garden located 10kms below Kurseong town. You can take manager's permission and visit the tea processing factory. There is a temple of Lord Shiva in the middle of the estate which is the main place of worship for the local villagers... it is believed by the locals that the idol of Lord Shiva placed here is alive.
Most taxi drivers will offer standard half and full day local sightseeing tours. You will get the taxis from the stand near the Kurseong railway station. Your hotel can also arrange for a private car. For complete information on the best places to visit in Kurseong, go through Kurseong Tourist Places to Visit
Where to stay in Kurseong
There are several nice hotels, lodges and even home stays in Kurseong. Kurseong Tourist Lodge
run by the state tourism department is a great budget friendly hotel and located about 1km from the market towards Darjeeling. This is probably the most sought after hotel in Kurseong.
There are also a few luxury class hotels that have come up in Kurseong including 5-star and 4-star properties, some of them in tea gardens. There are also heritage properties with grand aura and upscale retreats. However, there are also several nice homestays in Kurseong that are run by local families where you can get the opportunity of experiencing authentic Nepali hospitallity, culture and homemade cuisine.
There are not many proper restaurants in Kurseong. Couple of them are near the main taxi stand close to the station. Amarjeet Hotel near the station runs a popular family restaurant and a bar at the ground floor that serves great North Indian food (veg and non-veg).
Kurseong Tourist Lodge on Hill Cart Road also runs a nice multi-cuisine restaurant along with a bar which is open to outsiders as well and is very popular to tourists, particularly for lunch. They also serve great momos (chicken momos and veg momos) which people from far away come to eat or take away. Several nice cafes have also come up in Kurseong serving great food & beverages... one of the most popular ones is Kurseong Diaries located on the 4th floor of Amarjeet Hotel near the station.
Cafe Kurseong Diaries
Another extremely popular eatery is the Margaret's Deck, which is actually a tea lounge that belongs to the Goodricke group. You can sit alfresco on the roof-covered deck, watch the wonderful Margaret's Hope tea gardens on the slope of the mountains, and enjoy some premium quality Darjeeling tea along with snacks. The tea lounge is located 9kms from Kurseong station towards Darjeeling and on the Hill Cart Road (i.e. NH-110). It is a little upscale tea lounge, so expect a pot of tea and snacks to be a little pricey.
There are also few small budget eateries in Kurseong located on alleyways and serve nice local Nepali food.
Shops & Market Area in Kurseong
The main market area starts from the Kurseong Railway Station and stretches along both sides of the Hill Cart Road for about quarter of a mile towards the Tourist Lodge. There are all sorts of small to medium shops including clothing, shoes, bags, stationery and essentials.
Shops near Kurseong Station Area
One of the most popular stores in Kurseong is Kumai Studio located on Hill Cart Road near the station. This is a fairly large store which originated as a photo studio however later diversified to a gift & souvenir store but has continued with its original identity and had retained its photo studio. You can get your instant photos here at a reasonable price. The gift section has a large collection of decorative products, wallets, stationery items, books, dolls, soft toys, toy cars, glass made items, vases, and of course many photographs of the Himalayas.
Kumai Studio Kurseong
You will always find several customers in this store, many are locals who come to buy regular stationery items like writing pads, pens or even glue sticks. And some come here to take instant passport size photographs.
One of the striking items here are the beautifully painted vases that are made of metal but they have been finished with white paint and polish in such a way that they look identical to porcelain. The prices are very reasonable when you consider the quality of art work and the finish. I purchased one for only Rs. 1,900 which now adorns my living room. They nicely pack it for you. They bring these metal vases from Mumbai.
Kumai Studio is more than 80 years old and the building in which it is housed is over 100 years old. Its collection and history with remind you of the famous Das Studio of Darjeeling
If you walk past the Amarjeet Hotel on Hill Cart Road, shortly thereafter and before the Indian Oil petrol pump, a large store has come up recently that offers a range of TRENDZ fashion wears for both men and women... look for 'Trendz' signage. It has a basement section which primarily has men's apparels including T-shirts, woolens, trousers, formal & casual shirts, etc. The ground floor section mainly has women's apparels of all types. They also sell cosmetic items as well as deodorants, accessories etc. This is probably the largest store in the whole of Kurseong.
Near the Kurseong station and on Hill Cart Road, there are many other stores such as a wine store selling liquor and other alcoholic beverages, optical stores, cakes & pastry shop, there are stores that sell Darjeeling tea, etc. As you walk south along Hill Cart Road towards the railway station, there is a narrow stepped alleyway that connects the road below with Hill Cart Road... this alleyway is full of tiny local stores and vendors.
Stepped alleyway full of local stores, Kurseong
If you are walking from the station towards the Tourist Lodge, on your right there are a few narrow roads that lead to the extended market at an elevated level. This is where you will find several stores selling dress materials and all types of house hold stuffs.
If you are looking specifically for local food products of Kurseong and of Darjeeling hills that you like to carry back home, then it can be worth visiting the store Kay Deez run by a charming local
Weather and best time to visit
Due to low altitude, Kurseong's temperature remains temperate for most part of the year. The average temperature varies from about 10°C in January and goes up to an average of about 20°C in August and again falls to an average of 10°C in December. August is usually the warmest month when the maximum temperature can touch about 25°C. while January is the coolest month. Minimum temperature can drop to about 5°C.
Monsoon is heaviest in July when the rain fall is at an average of 896mm while December is the driest time with virtually no rainfall. The best time to visit Kurseong is between March to Mid June and September to December. During summer (April to September) you will need light woollens, while in winter (December to February) you will need heavy woollens (particularly for nights and early mornings).
Tanmay Boral (June 2021)
Are e-rickshaws or toto, etc. available in Kurseong town?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2021
No, there are no such transports... only private taxis from the stand near Kurseong station. You can also get shared taxis near the station to places like Darjeeling and Siliguri.
Ranjabatee Nath (April 2021)
Hi, is it possible to travel to Kalimpong or Rangpo from Kurseong. If yes, what are the options? From where can the cabs be booked?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2021
Yes, you can visit Kalimpong or Ragpo from Kurseong... the usual route is via Ghum/ Jorebungalow, Peshok Road and across Teesta bridge. You can get taxis at the stand next to the toy train station area.
Sayan Bhusan (April 2021)
Hi, I am planning to visit Kurseong and Latpanchet in next month. Being a solo travel I prefer to travel by shared cab or bused. Can you please help me out with a couple of information
1. From where I can get a shared cab/ bus to reach Kurseong from NJP/Siliguri and if possible from when.
2. I have a plan to go to Latpanchar/ Ahaldara next day from Kurseong; and for that from where I can get a shared mode of transportation ( break journey also would be fine for me if any).
Thanks in advance !!!
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2021
Hi, All buses and shared cabs bound for Darjeeling pass through Kurseong. You can get shared cabs from outside NJP station or opposite the Siliguri Central Bus Stand (also known as Tenzing Norgay Bus Stand) on Hill Cart Road, buses too are available in Siliguri at this bus stand. Shared taxis are usually available from 7am till 2:30pm. There is no bus from Kurseong to Latpanchar or Ahaldara. There are occasional shared taxis from Kurseong taxi stand to Latpanchar, but you may not always get that. In such a situation, you will need to book a private taxi.
Pema Tshering Lama (December 2017)
I have always been one optimistic local, always believing that someday Kurseong's time will come to be vividly noticed as a prime destination in Darjeeling hills which it is not so today. I as a local feel it's a great destination with the town a sleepy one but with a great vibrant natural surrounding that is not cramped for space. Its spacious as only nature should be. On the whole Kurseong is just like Darjeeling but it needs people to visit it sometimes and discover its quiet and pleasant solitude.
Dr Dhiman Bhattacharyya (November 2016)
Dear Raj, Your every note is splendid and I have gone through all your threads. Congratulations.
I have a few queries. 1. From NJP station or Darjeeling more will I be able to get cars for kurseong or is there any other stand? 2. Is there any bus service between kurseong and siliguri? 3. What is the time of shuttle cars between kurseong and siliguri and siliguri to kurseong?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2016
Hello, from NJP station you will get cabs (both reserved and shared) to Kurseong. Buses between Siliguri and Darjeeling ply through Kurseong. The shared taxis (shuttles) between Siliguri and Kurseong (and onward to Darjeeling) operate almost every hour during the day time. The timing actually depends mostly on when it gets full.
Vincent Dcruz (March 2016)
Do we get shared jeep to Kurseong from NJP or Silliguri bus stand & where does it drop us at Kurseong.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2016
Yes, all shared jeeps to Darjeeling (from NJP and Siliguri) go via Kurseong. You can get dropped at Kurseong taxi stand, train station or along its route anywhere (like at Kurseong Tourist Lodge on Hill Cart road etc). There would be few jeeps that go only up to Kurseong stand.