"Kurseong - The Land of the White Orchids" Karsiyang by anilpradhanshillong

Karsiyang Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 20 photos

Kurseong, local name, ‘Kharsang’, in Lepcha language meaning ‘Land of the White Orchids’, is a small undulating place, barely 5 sq. kms in area with a population of less than 50,000, an altitude of 4,860 feet (1,458 m) and a rainfall (160” annual) that is almost equal to that of the wettest place on earth, Cherrapunjee, in distant Meghalaya, India. However, it is these very qualities that endear this place to so many tourists, as it did to the British since 1835 when the territory was ceded to them by the Chogyal (monarch) of Sikkim. And as the British are wont to do, they built a fine Church, top-notch schools – one for the boys and another for the girls, luxurious mansions and bungalows, gardens and parks and of course, keeping the monetary angle firmly in place, a plethora of tea gardens. To cart this precious commodity to Siliguri and thence to London, a convenient metre gauge train was built that runs through the town. This is the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Train (toy train from Darjeeling to Siliguri).

The small area is easy to handle, the altitude is ideal for a sanatorium as well as for rest and relaxation from the vexatious heat of the plains and from Kolkata, the undulating hills and the abundant rainfall just the perfect mix for luxuriant tea plantations. Quite a few famous personalities have visited this place and have marvelled at its serenity, tranquillity, lushness and overall beauty. Mark Twain is supposed to have visited Kurseong in 1885, followed by Sister Nivedita. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was interned in a house at Gidda Pahar in 1936 while Rabindranath Tagore was supposedly inspired to pen a few poems at Kurseong.

Some of the finest teas in the world are produced by Ambootia, Castleton and Makaibari Tea Estates here on the slopes of Kurseong. If you plan ahead, you could be treated to a hands-on experience of how tea leaves are grown, plucked, processed and prepared at a nearby tea factory. If you evince enough interest, you may perhaps be invited to the arcane world of tea tasting. If you can tell the subtle differences between the myriad varieties of tea cups lined up before you, you may just be presented with a few packets of the most exotic teas.

Kurseong is on the way to Darjeeling from Siliguri (30 kms short of Darjeeling and 51 kms from Siliguri) and a stop here is mandatory for a bit of leg-stretching and a warm cup of delicious tea. If you wish to enjoy the verdant beauty of the place while returning from Darjeeling, take the picturesque Rongtong, Ghayabari, Mahanadi and Gidda Pahar route; if in a hurry, you are welcome to the steep Pankhabari road.

First Written: Jun. 7, 2012

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Tranquil, serene, untroubled, laid-back, temperate climate
  • Cons:Small place; a holiday is enough
  • In a nutshell:Quaint town, picturesque, temperate climate, fantastic tea
  • Last visit to Karsiyang: Apr 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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