Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Kurseong – The Heart Of Darjeeling

Sojourning in Kurseong is the ideal way to experience Darjeeling. Even before I headed there, I knew I didn’t want to go to the touristic Darjeeling. From the kind of reviews I had got about it, I knew it wouldn’t be enjoyable to stay in Darjeeling – it’s just full of vehicles and the clamour of tourists. Well, I’m not the one who decides on a destination based on people’s opinions. If a destination fascinates me, I’m too nosey to skip it. So, yes, I did visit the ‘touristic’ Darjeeling, but I didn’t stay there.

The original land of orchids

I stayed in Kurseong.
                      
I feel so fortunate to have chosen Kurseong – it’s one of the unassuming hill stations in Darjeeling district. Kurseong actually introduced me to all the heritage charms of Darjeeling – the tea gardens and the people associated with them, taste of an authentic Darjeeling Tea and the lovely British era train stations.


So, Kurseong has got everything that you would expect from a lovely hill station – it is quiet, it has got beautiful mountain views, it has heritage and it has great people. And, if you can’t keep yourself from visiting Darjeeling, it’s only an hour’s drive away.

THINGS TO DO IN KURSEONG

Just to help you know Kurseong better, I have listed down a few things to do -

The green trails

If you love to walk and are always upbeat about nature, simply follow your heart and discover your own trails in Kurseong. We followed a path that started from the Hill Cart Road leading to Dow Hill School and then up to the Deer Park. The lush and pristine beauty of nature made the long hike totally worthwhile.    

A green trail leading to Deer Park
Choose any trail, it will lead to more beauty...

The wild beauty

Kurseong, by its very name, means ‘the land of orchids’. So, don’t leave the town without spotting those wild flowers. Orchids grow anywhere they find fresh air and suitable environment. Besides, all kinds of wild berries are a common sight. Not to mention, variety of ferns hog the limelight everywhere.


The British era ruins and the old buildings

On a heritage trail, there is nothing lovelier than spotting an old cobbled house in the midst of bushes. There are so many old buildings from the British era in Kurseong – churches, schools, colleges, hospitals, and guest houses. Some of them are in a dilapidated state, but still ooze a lot of charm.   
Students at Eastern Forest Rangers College

An old hospital building
Dow Hill School

The museums

Museums are not really my thing, but the W.B. Forest School Dow Hill Museum is worth a dekko. It’s a museum where forest products are preserved. Also, there is an interesting museum at the Kurseong train station, which showcases the history of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.


The villages

There are quite a few villages around Kurseong. One of them is Dilaram village, which is worth visiting for its environmentally conserved beauty and organic way of life. Interacting with the villagers is a great way of knowing the Nepalise culture.

A pretty quaint house

The tea gardens

Kurseong gives access to various tea gardens. It’s like wherever you go, there is a tea garden waiting for you. I visited Goomtee and Dilaram tea gardens, which gave me a chance to know the life of tea-pluckers. (I’m going to write a detailed post about it later)

Dilaram Tea Garden

The authentic Darjeeling tea

Yes, there is nothing like sipping the authentic Darjeeling tea, which is prepared without milk and sugar. It tastes great. Sample a cup of tea at your host’s place or wherever you go – a villager’s house, shops and restaurants. It’s served almost everywhere.

Enjoy a toy train ride from Kurseong to Darjeeling

Although I didn’t experience it myself, I am sure travelling on a toy train would be an amazing way to enjoy the simple pleasures of Darjeeling. There are three stations between Kurseong and Darjeeling – Tung, Sonada and Ghum. These little train stations are really a whiff from the olden times.

An old rest house in Kurseong

WHERE TO STAY IN KURSEONG

Kettle Valley Home Stay

I stayed at Kettle valley, which is a family-run home stay. It’s a place for travellers who would like to have authentic experiences of Kurseong – conversations with a Nepalese family, home-cooked local cuisine, village and tea garden trails, and of course, warm hospitality.

So, are you ready to experience the true old Darjeeling that still exists in Kurseong?

30 comments:

  1. Nice writeup Renuka, was waiting to hear about your thoughts since your last visit. Cheers.

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    1. Thanks Kundan :) I'm glad you liked it.

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  2. really nice photos! I'd love to come here.

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    1. Please do, Rachel! Kurseong is a true Darjeeling experience.

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  3. Such a beautiful place. Makes me want to visit at the earliest. Nice description, Renuka.

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    1. It is Niranjan! I'm sure you will love it too.

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  4. wonderful place... would love to visit soon... thanks keep posting :)

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    1. Yes, it is. :) You're welcome.

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  5. Nice pictures. A good place for nature lovers.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, Kurseong is still unspoiled. A perfect haven for nature lovers.

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  6. Beautiful pics ! liked the berries n the colors.. Place looks so peaceful n close to nature!

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    1. True! Kurseong is very peaceful and close to nature.

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  7. Beautiful pictures and beautiful place

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    1. Thank you, Maria. :) I'm glad you liked it.

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  8. Your photography is gorgeous! What a beautiful place. It looks lovely.

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    1. Thanks Greg :) Kurseong is quite a photographable place.

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  9. The tea picking photo - that deserves an award. it's perfect. Love your blog as always!

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    1. Oh, that's so kind of you! Thank you, Andrew :)

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    1. Thanks Megha :) Kurseong IS a lovely town!

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  11. Nice write up and amazing pics ... i visited darjeeling when i was a kid in 1995 , it was a road trip from kolkata to darjeeling . Though I do not remember much but can't forget the joy of toy train ride .

    I guess its time to revisit again ;)

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    1. I'm sure the toy train ride must have been great. :) I'd suggest you to visit Kurseong this time and relive your childhood experiences.

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  12. This definitely sounds like my kind of a place. Will give it a try if I head there!

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    1. You must! Kurseong is a lovely place!

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  13. Hi Renuka, I was looking up Kettle Valley, and found your blog....very interesting! Have been living in Kurseong, St. Mary's Hill,for the last 28yrs, moved from Bangalore. Have hiked around to all the places......except Kettle Valley! Looking to go there now, when my family visits in Oct. Visit us if you come again to Kurseong!

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    1. Thanks Esther! I'm glad you got to Kurseong. It's a lovely place. Have a great stay in Darjeeling.

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