Having reached New Jalpaiguri Station, my friend Bijay (who had arrived in a different train) and I decided to hire a car to cover the distance of around 50 kms. As is usual with any tourist location in India, as soon as we approached the taxis, we were literally mobbed by some 10-15 cab-drivers, each trying to convince us to hire his car. Finally, after some haggling and some drama (I am good at drama, did I mention that before?), we finally zeroed in on a car, deciding to share it with two more gentlemen, who were going to bring back their sons from a boarding school in Darjeeling.
The cab driver put things in perspective, explaining why we were pursued by so many drivers. It was the off-season, ergo fewer passengers available. So, dog eat dog is the rule of the game in such situations. I actually felt bad hearing this, because the amount I saved by bargaining mattered less to me than it did to the poor driver. Demand and supply, I guess!
The ride to Kurseong takes around one and half hours, and the road has lush green tea gardens on both sides. Beautiful view!
We had a nice time chatting with our co-passengers. All schools back in Kolkata had already re-opened post summer vacations; so I found it odd that the parents were picking up the kids now. I asked them about it and they said schools in the hills followed a different schedule. The kids had their vacations during the rainy season. Makes sense, because the area has frequent landslides in the rainy season.
The one and half hours passed fast and we found ourselves in front of our hotel, Cochrane Place.
Now, I am not sure how much the Cochrane Place owners ought to pay me for this publicity 🙂 , but let me tell you this- One of the main attractions for me for visiting Kurseong is definitely Cochrane Place. There’s a good reason, why Lonely Planet recommends the place for visitors to Kurseong. I strictly believe in the saying that picture is worth thousand words, and you check out the place. Let me just add that people define the character of any place, and same is true for this place. Mr. Kang, the manager, is one amazing guy, and he will go that extra mile to make you feel at home.
Having checked in, we decided to freshen up and have a quick lunch, before heading out to see the town- Kurseong.