Kurseong Attractions & Local Tours
Many of you may not be familiar with Kurseong and think this might be another small roadside village on the way to Darjeeling. Well many years back it was actually a small hamlet, but over the years its has grown into a bustling township. Today it's a subdivision of Darjeeling district. Spread of Kurseong is much more than what it may seem.
And the spread is beyond the township to lovely tea gardens along the mountain slopes, forests with many different flora & fauna, quaint villages and so on. And expectedly, there are many view points, tea estates, temples & churches, museums, as well as famous historic schools that were setup during the British colonial days.
You can easily spend two to three days in Kurseong and remain immersed with its attractions. There are plenty of local taxis available near the station and market area all of who will be willing to take you for local sightseeing tours. There are half day and full day local tours depending on what you want to cover. Talk to a couple of local drivers before you finalize one ... the rates vary and some can and do ask for too much.
Below are the best and most popular tourist attractions of Kurseong:
This is a lovely view point and a garden on top of a hill. You can actually take the narrow lane next to Kurseong station and walk up to Eagle Craig. It will take about 25 minutes of walk. The view point and the park land is located at the end of the road which is the highest point on this mountain.
Eagle Craig (as seen from Rohini Road)
A small concrete stairway leads up to the garden above. The garden is full of hedges and flowering plantations. There is also a watch tower on one side of the garden. The views of the mountains on the opposite side and also that of the lower plains from here is awesome. You need a clear day though to get great views.
There is a concrete altar here and a Khukri (traditional Nepali knife) placed on it. It serves as a monument which was constructed by the erstwhile DGHC in memory of the Gorkhas who lost their lives in 1988 agitation in the hills.
Eagle Craig Kurseong
A large water reservoir here supplies water to Kurseong town. Eagle Craig has always been a favorite place for the local young couples. Being on top of a hill and a bit isolated, this place offers a nice romantic ambience. Eagle Craig is open on all days from morning till sunset. There is no admission fee.
Kurseong is spread across several hills of mountains. Dow Hill is one of them. A large section of the hill is covered with dense forest and the locals will vouch on the fact that there are leopards in the forest. While no lives have been lost, the leopards seem to be targeting the sheeps and goats. The hill is also famous for its many attractions including forest museum, excellent views, historic schools, parklands etc. Some of the attractions of Dow hill are described below.
Dow Hill Park
Earlier this was known as Deer Park since you could see lot many deers here. However with deforestation, such sights are now rare and hence the change in name.
In the adjacent forest there is a large fenced area where you can still see some deers. But venturing into the forest is not allowed, you can only look for the deers from outside the fence and often they can be seen moving around, but not in the park.
Dow Hill Park, Kurseong
Dow Hill park is located on top of Dow Hill. The fenced park itself is quite small. There are hedge and other different kinds of plantations. There is a gazebo in the park where you can sit and relax. There is also a small children playground with swings and slides. The park is open from 10am to 4pm. Closed on Thursdays. A nominal entry fee needs to be paid to enter the park.
Dow Hill Forest Museum
It's a large two-storeyed museum in Dow Hill that stores many exhibits of flora and fauna of the region. It has been recently renovated and restored.
Next to it is the Forest Training School. The museum is open daily.
Forest Museum, Dow Hill, Kurseong
Dow Hill Forest Rest House
Close to the Forest Museum in Dow Hill is the Forest Rest House. You can book this rest house through the forest department in Kurseong and stay amidst the nature and surrounded by dense Dhupi forest ... all you can hear is the chirping of the birds.
Dowhill Forest Rest House
There is a lovely garden at the rest house with flowering plantations, pine trees etc.
Update March 2014: The rest house is temporarily closed. Due to the ongoing renovation work at the Forest Museum, all the exhibits and museums materials have been stored at the rest house. So check out before you go. However you can still enter the Rest House premises and enjoy the garden and view of the forests.
Dow Hill Girls School
This is a heritage boarding school on Dow Hill with a lovely colonial architecture. It came up during the British era when Governor Sir Ashley Eden had set up this school in 1879 for children of government officers. Initially it was a small school for boys only. Later the boys section was shifted to Victoria School and it became a girls school. Apart from its attractive architecture, the school is also located in a scenic setting with wonderful view of the Himalayan range and surrounded by lush vegetation. The school runs under the state government and offers a good standard of education.
Dow Hill Girls School
Victoria Boys School at Dow Hill
This is the boys school in Dow Hill which was also set up during the British colonial time. Very well known for its high standard of education and run under the state government, the school has both boarding and day students. Currently there are about 350 students in the school out of which about 200 are boarders.
Victoria Boys School
One of the great features of the school is its large play fields for the students. The play field at the lower level is the largest in Kurseong.
Students during break at Victoria School
There is a chapel in Victoria School premises just nest to the entrance. It has been lying closed for many years, a clear indication of the fact that there are hardly any Christian students or staff left in the school who require services of the church.
Dow Hill Water Reservoir
There is a large reservoir in downhill where rain water is stored. It acts as a water source to many areas of Kurseong sub-division. The setting is picturesque as you can see in the picture. The reservoir is surrounded by lush pine and coniferous trees. There is also a picnic area here at an elevated level. The view of the water from here is great.
Water Reservoir - View from picnic point
Note that the entrance to the reservoir is through an unassuming iron gate. It's difficult to make out that you are actually approaching such a large water body.
Giddapahar View Point
One of the other hills in Kurseong is Giddapahar. This view point is located few kilometers from the town (takes about 15 minutes by car) along Hill Cart Road towards Siliguri. The view point is accessible by stairway right from the roadside. You will need to enter through a gate and then climb the stairs.
Giddapahar View Point
The view of the mountains, the snow peaks (including Kanchenjunga) and the valley is awesome. However it should be a clear day to get good views.
Valley View from Giddapahar View Point
If you look towards the Hill Cart Road below, you can see the road winding down side by side with the toy train track. Giddapahar view point is open daily during the day time and there is no entry fee. You can park the car by the road side.
Hill Cart Road and the Toy Train Track
Giddapahar Seti Mata Temple
This is a Hindu temple of goddess Durga. The idol is an ancient carved stone. The temple can be accessed by a stairway from the Hill Cart Road and is located at a higher level from the road. It's considered very sacred and quite popular with the locals.
Seti Mata Temple
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum
This museum is located in Giddapahar area. It was originally a private house purchased in 1922 by Sarat Chandra Bose, the writer and veteran freedom fighter. Later between 1933 to 1935 Sarat Chandra and subsequently Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were kept here by the British under house captivity.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Museum, Kurseong
With lush greenery and gardens all around, the atmosphere is tranquil and serene. It has been now converted into a museum. You can see many original furniture used by Netaji including bed, chairs, tables etc. This is where Subhash Chandra Bose wrote his speech which he delivered as the president of Haripura Congress in 1938. The museum also stores many articles, letters and artifacts that reflect the story of the leader.
Inside the museum
The museum is also known as Netaji Institute for Asian Studies where research and studies are conducted on Himalayan languages, society and culture. The museum is open daily. There is no admission fee. You will be required to take off your shoes before entering the museum. No photography is allowed inside.
Ambootia Tea Estate
This is a sprawling tea estate with lovely gardens on the mountain slopes that produce black, green, white Darjeeling teas. It's located about 10kms below the Kurseong town and takes about 35 minutes to reach by car. This is usually not a part of standard sightseeing tour. You will need to pay extra to the driver to get there, but it's worth the money. The estate spans across an area of 350 hectares and employs over 900 workers. It has been operating since the British time of 1850s.
Ambootia Tea Garden
You can get wonderful view of Kurseong township from the tea gardens here.
Ambootia Shiv Temple
Further down from the tea estate and along steep dirt road through the forested area you will reach the famous and one of the most revered temples. It takes another 20 minutes or so. It feels like a long bumpy ride on a treacherous road. This is a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva. The idol (i.e. the Shiv Linga) is an old dead trunk of a tree. While the temple has many devotees who are mostly garden workers families, the driver mentioned that this temple is a wish fulfilling temple and one who offers prayers, gets blessings of Lord Shiva that helps solve one's problems in life.
Another strange phenomena. The priest of the temple mentioned to me that although the idol is a dead trunk, it keeps growing with time. And he himself has seen it becoming taller since his childhood. Locals firmly believe that too. So that makes the temple very special where the god (i.e. Lord Shiva) is sitting live.
Ambootia Temple - Priest and the Idol of Lord Shiva
Makaibari Tea Estate
This is one of the most famous tea estates in Darjeeling district. It's located 3kms from Kurseong town and on Makaibari road. This is one of the oldest tea estates in the district producing some of the finest tea varieties and also one of the first to set up a tea processing factory. Owner Rajah Banerji is also the first in the area to introduce organic farming. With his support, the tea garden workers and their families have extended their homes and now offer homestays for tourists. This is an excellent opportunity to experience tea garden life and the local village culture of Kurseong. You can visit the factory and also the tea gardens below. For complete information, visit Makaibari Tea Estate
Castleton Tea Estate
This tea estate is owned by the Goodricke Group and is one of the most well known ones that produce fine black, green and white Darjeeling tea from authentic Chinese bushes. The estate was set up by Dr. Charles Graham in 1885. It spans over an area of about 170 hectares. The factory gate is near Kurseong town and on Pankhabari Road. You can visit the factory and observe tea processing.
Castleton Tea Factory, Kurseong
St. Mary's Hill
About 3kms from Kurseong town towards Darjeeling, this is a beautiful hill area with a church perched on top (St. John's Church). There are statues of Jesus and Mary here nearby. With lush green vegetation and lovely views, the ambience is wonderful. Walk further up to the Forest College. There is also a prayer spot here.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum
This is one of the three DHR museums of Darjeeling district which is located in Kurseong station premises. You will need to first visit the station office and buy the entry ticket. A staff will then come with the keys and open the museum room next to the platform. It's all yours then. What do you see in the DHR museum in Kurseong?
The museum houses many treasures, historical artifacts and exhibits of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, how the toy train was created to overcome the steep mountain gradients, pictures of the loops & engines, and parts of the original rails as well as machinery and accessories used to set up the tracks. For more information about the museum, visit Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum
Toy Train ride between Kurseong and Darjeeling
From Kurseong station, you can make a day trip to Darjeeling. One of the best ways to do so is by taking a toy train from Kurseong station. There are two trains every day between Kurseong and Darjeeling. One leaves Kurseong in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Both take about 3 hours to reach Darjeeling and then return.
You can also take the train one way (up or down) and use a private or shared taxi the other way for saving time. It only takes little over one hour by taxi between Kurseong and Darjeeling. For Toy Train schedule, train numbers etc, check Toy Train Service
and refer to the section under Route #3.
Trekking in Kurseong area
There are some lovely trekking trails in Kurseong areas through forests and lush vegetation on the slope of the mountains. You can explore the nature, its flora and fauna and also several almost unnamed villages and their people & culture. For more information visit Trekking in Kurseong area
Asish Sengupta (August 2018)
Hello, We are going to Kurseong on 18th aug. On 19th we will be going to Sandakphu Phalut.
1.can we come back to Darjeeling on the same day?
2.Keeping in mind that this is monsoon season,apart from cloudy view,are there any risks to visit Sandakphu Phalut?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2018
Day trip to Sandakphu & Phalut from Kurseong is not practical. Plus the last stretch of the journey from Bikheybhanjan up to Sandakphu can be quite risky during monsoon... vehicles can and do easily skid.
Sumana Nag (March 2018)
Hello Sir, I'm planning to go to Mirik from Kurseong on a day's visit. I will book a private cab. Do you think it'll be possible to go to Mirik and come back in a day? If yes, can you give me an idea of the cab fare and the distance and time please?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2018
Hi, yes it's quite possible. You need to come down to the plains by Rohini Road (now Subash Ghising Marg), go via Simulbari tea gardens and go up the Mirik road. Will take about 2 hours (50kms) one way. Return fare should be around Rs. 2,500 with some time to spend at the lake.