Land of White Orchids. That’s what Kurseong means in the local language. To be specific, the word is Kharsang. It happens to be one of the oldest municipalities in Bengal.
The British, who ruled India for couple of centuries, always had problems with the intense Indian summer. Many an Englishman lost their digestion and their temper, thanks to the hot and humid Indian weather. So, come summer, they would retreat to the summer retreats on various hill stations. Darjeeling was one of those. Kurseong, being en route to Darjeeling, also developed as a hill station.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR), a narrow gauge railway, built around 1880 to connect Siliguri to Darjeeling, is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is headquartered at Kurseong, and presently the train services ply from Kurseong to Darjeeling. As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, Kurseong is also famous for its tea gardens which produce the famed Darjeeling Tea. Prominent among these, is the Makaibari Tea Estate, which produces the most expensive tea in the world!
After our lunch at the Cochrane Place, we decided to step out for a walk around the town. Since, the hotel is a couple of kilometers from the town; we took a shared cab, which is a popular mode of transport here. Ten rupees and ten minutes later, we were at the heart of the town. The rail tracks of the DHR snake through the narrow roads of the town, and when a train passes, it feels as if it is passing through the back alley!
One can walk around the town in an hour. We walked our way past the Kurseong Fire Station and had some awesome Momos at the Kurseong Tourist Lodge.
While walking back to the hotel, we found an old graveyard. There was only an old shepherd who had brought his sheep to graze. The place almost seemed magical.
After spending some time there chatting with the shepherd (who it turned out had worked for few years in Kolkata), we decided to head back to the hotel. And, we met a bunch of giggling kids, who managed to convince me to take a few photographs of them( I didn’t really need much convincing!). Having spent some ten very entertaining minutes with, we finally said our byes, and started our descent.
The sun was setting and the fog approaching.