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.
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 Kalimpong, you get magnificent views of Mt. Kanchejunga, Kabru and Jannu, and the meandering rivers Teesta and Mahananda flowing downwards to the lower plains & medows.
The toy train track runs on level with 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 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.
Location of Kurseong & How to Reach
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.
Kurseong town on the hill slope
Sites & Sightseeing Tours
Kurseong has several great view points offering spectacular views of the landscapes, tea gardens and the snow peaks. There are some 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 interior villages to know the life and culture of the locals. Most taxi drivers will offer standard half and full day local sightseeing tours. More info...
Where to stay in Kurseong
There are several nice hotels, lodges and even home stays in Kurseong. While most hotels are in the main market area, Kurseong Tourist Lodge run by the state tourism department is about 1km from the market towards Darjeeling. More info on all types of accommodations in Kurseong...
There are only very few proper restaurants in Kurseong. Couple of them are near the main taxi stand close to the station. Kurseong tourist lodge also runs a nice multi cuisine restaurant with a bar. However there are also few small budget eateries located on alleyways and serve nice local Nepali food. More info on all types of restaurants in Kurseong...
Shops & Market Area in Kurseong
Nobody comes to Kurseong for shopping. However 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. If you are walking from the station towards the Tourist Lodge, on your right there are several alleyways that lead to the extended market at an elevated level. This is where you will find many stores selling dress materials and all types of house hold stuffs.
(see the toy train track on the road)
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 fall 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).
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.