Location of Kurseong
Kurseong is located at an altitude of 1458 metres (4864 ft) and Kurseong is just 30 km from Darjeeling. Kurseong is 47 km from Siliguri and is connected to the city by road and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
History of Kurseong
Kurseong was captured by the British Empire by the chogyal (monarch) of Sikkim in 1835. Later in 1880, the small settlement became a tourist destination for the colonial authorities and was a favoured place for sanatoriums where the sick would come to attain recovery. Since then, Kurseong has been developing as a quiet hill station and it has been acquiring all the natural goodness of mountains and nature without the hustle and dirtiness of an old hill station. The tea gardens surrounding Kurseong are the premium tea gardens in the world. Some of the teas from these gardens have been sold in hundreds of Euros per kg. The gardens of Kurseong include Castleton, Makaibarie, Ambotia and Goomtee.
Administration in Kurseong
Kurseong Municipality, is more than 125 years old is the main civic administration body for the town of Kurseong. The administrative office is located at 13, Dowhill Road. The Municipality is divided into 20 wards and each has a ward commissioner who is in charge of the individual ward. Kurseong has its own Munsif Megistrate Court and also the Police Station and Town Out Post in P B Road. The S.D.O. (Sub Divisional Officer) is the head of the administration for the Kurseong Town.
Population of Kurseong
As of 2001, India census, Kurseong had a population of around 40,067. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Kurseong possesses an average literacy rate of 84%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 88%, and female literacy is 80%. In Kurseong, almost 6% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Climate of Kurseong
Kurseong does not have severe winters and a healthy, calm climate is prevalent throughout the year except the monsoon season. During the rainy season; it rains non-stop. In fact, Kurseong receives the highest amount of rainfall in India after 'Cherrapunjee' in Meghalaya. Ironically, such heavy amount of rainfall is ideal for the growth of white orchids that adorn the hill-slopes of Kurseong in abundance. The natural beauty of Kurseong thrives because of the munificence of the rain-gods. The best time to visit Kurseong is either between March end and May or between the end of August and October.
Culture of Kurseong
The culture of Kurseong blends with the natural beauty, tranquility, serenity and the healthy climate of the region. The cheerful and joyful people of Kurseong welcome visitors with affection and hospitality. The main language for conversing is Nepali, however the people also understand Hindi and English. The migration of various nationalities in Kurseong has made its culture a heterogeneous one. Lately, many Bengalis have settled in Kurseong for tourism and tea trades. The rich vegetation of Kurseong town and surroundings is thrilling, and the town has suitably been described as a 'Botanists' Paradise'.
Education in Kurseong
Kurseong is nicknamed as "the school town" due to the emergence of many reputed schools in the town. Like the other hill stations within the District of Darjeeling, Kurseong boasts some renowned schools established during the British Rule, namely St Helens Convent, Dowhill Girls School, Goethals Memorial School, and Victoria Boys School. The schools can be classified into 2 distinct groups, namely the English Medium and the Nepali Medium. The English medium schools are mostly affiliated to the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), Delhi and the Nepali Medium Schools are affiliated to the State Education Board i.e West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), Kolkata. Some of the schools in Kurseong are also affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Delhi.
Some popular schools in Kurseong are WBSE Saint Alphonsus School, Goethals Memorial School, Himali Boarding School1, Dowhill Girls School, Glen Hill Public School1, Victoria Boys' School, St Anthony's School, Little Flower School, Cambridge English Boarding School, Dawn Boarding School, Jnaneshwar Memorial Academy and many others. Some popular Nepali schools in Kurseong include Pushparani Boys High School1, Scottish Mission Girls School and Rama Krishna Girls School.
Kurseong has one college "Kurseong College" which is affiliated to the University of North Bengal. This university provides undergraduate studies, namely the Bachelor of Arts (General and Honours), Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce (General). There is a polytechnic college "Darjeeling Polytechnic", offering Diploma in Civil Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Diploma in Electrical Engineering and Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.
Tourism in Kurseong
The main tourist attractions in Kurseong can be categorised into various sections like religious abodes, natural beauty and so on. On the way to Ambhotia Tea Estate, Ambhotia Shiva Temple in itself is a lifetime experience of scenic beauty. Jagdish Mandir on Bank Road is another temple in the old style architecture made of complete wood interiors. The temple has two statues of Lord Jagnnath and ratha Yatra is also performed on the specific day. Buddisht Gompha in Montieviot and another one in Dowhill Road are worth a visit. St. Pauls Church on Hill Cart Road is also a lovely sight to perceive.
Amongst the natural beauties of Kurseong, Eagle's Craig stands apart. This viewpoint is seemingly perched on a cliff and one can enjoy a sweeping view of the surrounding landscapes. It also has a cafeteria, a watchtower and a flower garden; this place also houses the water reservoir for the town of Kurseong. The Deer Park in Dow hill area is a scenic region under the jurisdiction of forest management. Venturing inside the forest is prohibited. The park also houses beautiful cottages of the British Raj time. Bhangzang Salamander Lake is located 14 km from Kurseong. It is a beautiful lake, bordered by greenery that shelters the endangered species of salamanders. Bagora is also called zero point because it is the place with the highest elevation in Kurseong with a base camp of the Indian Air Force with a helipad. Kurseong Town Railway Station is a spot, where one can enjoy the great view of the train arrive and depart.
Perhaps the most memorable event in the Kurseong fairytale is a ride on the famous Toy Train as it moves valiantly along its route from Darjeeling to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. The Toy Train was commissioned in 1881, a shiny blue and silver steam locomotive whose novelty is still cherished after 128 years. This train is miniature with a tiny engine that heroically pulls 4-5 compartments on a narrow gauge rail. The train journey features hills and valleys, weaving around waterfalls, rivers and forests on its 8 A1/2 to 10-hour journey.
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra. Taxis and buses are available at the airport for transportation to Kurseong. Siliguri, 50 km and New Jalpaiguri, 57 km are the nearest main rail stations to Kurseong. It is an important station on the toy train route from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The Toy Train takes around 5 hours from New Jalpaiguri to Kurseong. Foreigners visiting Kurseong should compulsorily possess an Indian visa. No special permit is required for either travelling or trekking inside Kurseong. However, necessary travel documents are to be shown as and when required.
Local transport in Kurseong includes private taxis, jeeps and landrovers. These means are used for local sightseeing in and around Kurseong. Buses, cars, tourist mini coaches and taxis are available for transit of passengers between Kurseong and Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri Junction or Bagdogra. Kurseong is well connected to many important towns and cities through road network. All weather metal roads connect Kurseong to Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kalimpong, Mirik, Gangtok and other places of the region.
Kurseong is gifted with the natural charm and beauty that has helped the tourism infrastructure to develop at a much faster pace. Moreover, the people of this place are cheerful and fun loving and welcome visitors with warmth and hospitality. Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore and the great composer Atul Prasad Sen gained inspiration for some of their famous works around Kurseong; Sister Nivedita, the great disciple of Swami Vivekananda had made Kurseong her home.
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