Exploring Kurseong:The Land of the White Orchid

16th Apr 2015

All the little hill stations in the northern part of West Bengal appear to be the same. The same narrow, winding streets, the same duel between the sun and the mist, the same anxious wait for a sighting of a famous peak. Some destinations are more popular than others, depending on the view, tourist spots and other things to do while on vacation. Of course, I am talking about the more well known hill stations, not the ones off the beaten track- some of these places rank high on holiday wishlists.

Compared to Darjeeling, Kurseong is a sleepy little town with little to see and little to do. This is what makes Kurseong the perfect destination for the traveller who is not looking for adventure that includes physical exertion, and is looking for peace and quiet, but not the kind that requires one to walk a kilometer or two for a pack of biscuits. The main attraction of Kurseong is said to be its tea estates, which includes the famous Makaibari Tea garden. Visitors are allowed to stroll around and experience first hand the journey the tea that reaches their hotel bedroom every morning makes.

Speaking of hotels, if you cannot find a good enough reason to spend your time in Kurseong, re-consider your decision if you can make a booking at the Cochrane Place. Once the home of one Percy John Cochrane, this colonial building is now a popular boutique hotel. Its popularity is not unfounded. The restored and renovated bungalow looks warm and inviting, the wood panelling, the decor, the four poster bed in the room- all add to the old world charm that the hotel exudes. But beneath this old world charm are all the modern facilities that the tourist needs. The food is excellent. Don't forget to try the ginger pudding. And the well stocked Cha Bar is a tea-drinker's delight. It goes without saying that the rooms are mostly designed to provide the guests with a view of the Kanchenjunga.

But one cannot stay in a hotel room forever (although you might want to, considering how cozy and comfortable these rooms are). So, what does one do when is Kurseong? As I have already said, one option is a visit to the tea gardens. You can also drive down to the monasteries in Sonada and Ghoom. Or, you can drive up to Dow Hill- a famous boarding school nestled in the hills with a building that looks like it has come straight out of a Disney movie.

Spend your evenings strolling down Kurseong's roads, where the famous white orchid (from which Kurseong derives its name), might bow its head in greeting in the wind, or a shaggy local dog might walk up to lick your outstretched palm. The town is as friendly as its flora and fauna. A trip to Kurseong is sure to help you unwind and relax. Your heart will definitely be a little lighter when you return to the plains.

Photo of Kurseong, West Bengal, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Kurseong, West Bengal, India by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

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