Travel & Food Travelogue

Darjeeling and Kurseong: Land of Misty Clouds and Monasteries

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Shaili takes us on a tour of beauteous Darjeeling and Kurseong. A Different Truths exclusive.

I gazed and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

Whoever can identify with the pensive mood of William Wordsworth will find the hills of northeast and West Bengal, a complete getaway from the madding crowds of the so-called urbanisation.

A nature lover’s paradise, the mystic hills, the majestic mountains and the lush valleys here can boast of a fabulous climate

A nature lover’s paradise, the mystic hills, the majestic mountains and the lush valleys here can boast of a fabulous climate, mesmerizing landscapes that tickle the imagination, enticing locales and fascinating folklores that depict the rich cultural heritage. As such, the majestic and wild east has lots to offer than just beauty in terms of nature: a male river, India’s biggest monastery, Asia’s cleanest village, Douki, rhino sanctuary, Kazhiranga, Kamkhya temple, of mythological and religious significance, these are all situated in the Northeast.

Beautiful Valley and Tea Gardens

Well, if you are planning a vacation, two highly picturesque places, would be Darjeeling and Kurseong, in West Bengal. Darjeeling is not new for people, a beautiful valley with plenty of tea gardens. The best season to visit this valley is from April to June after which the rains start. Plenty of resorts and hotels are readily available, costing you anything from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 5000 per night.

Darjeeling has also been a major attraction for tourists and film directors for beautiful locations. Earlier, films like Aradhana andParineeta were shot here. The best way to reach Darjeeling would be via Calcutta and New Jalpaiguri or Bagdogra. Vehicles are easily available to take you to the valley from here. It is three to four hours of drive.

Roads and Railway Tracks Run Together

In Darjeeling, the roads and the railway tracks run together, sometimes you could encounter them from the left and sometimes from the right, making it a very fascinating sight indeed! ‘Dorje’ in Tibetan means thunderbolt place or land.

The original habitats of Darjeeling are the Lepcha and the mixed indigenous people of Darjeeling and Sikkim.

The original habitats of Darjeeling are the Lepcha and the mixed indigenous

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people of Darjeeling and Sikkim. The majority are the Nepali Gorkhas. There are also lots of Bengalis, Bhutias, and Biharis too.

The toy-train, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is very famous. It reaches a height of 7,400 feet and drops gradually on zigzag, hairpin loops and curves. The constructed track spans about 53 miles or 86 Km. This track was made in 1879 and is indeed a sample of the unique engineering feats of its own kinds. People travel far and wide to take a ride on this train.

Apart from the toy train, many monasteries are situated here, namely, Dali, Sam Tencholing and Ghoom.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is also situated on the Birch Hill. It includes a mountaineering institute with hostel facilities for students and boasts of historical climbing equipment.

Zoo has Siberian Tigers, Red Panda

Attached to this is the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. This happens to be one of India’s biggest zoological parks. It has India’s only Siberian Tigers, rare species of Red Panda and Tibetan Wolf. The zoo is every child’s delight and a spectacle for the child in every adult!

Another must watch is the Site-Batasia Loop. This is a natural spur of the Tiger Hill mountain around, which the narrow-gauge rail makes a double loop, its way between Ghoom and Darjeeling towns. This itself is an engineering marvel.

Delightful is the Sanctified War Memorial which consists of the raised marble platform in oval shape 37ft. X 24ft. There is a bronze statue of a Gorkha soldier that is 9ft high.

Also, delightful is the Sanctified War Memorial which consists of the raised marble platform in oval shape 37ft. X 24ft. There is a bronze statue of a Gorkha soldier that is 9ft high. The soldier is in ‘Shok Shastra’ along with a high triangular granite cenotaph on a 3 ft. Octagonal base with the ‘Roll of Honour’ engraved on it.

People also travel to see the highest point in Darjeeling, Tiger Hill. The early sunrise strikes the Kanchenjunga range of snow-capped peaks in ablaze of colours and the scene is every nature lover’s delight! Other places worth visiting are the Rock Garden, the Dhirdham Temple, Mahakaal Mandir and the numerous curio shops and bakeries in the Bazaars of Darjeeling. The cakes, pies, and muffins are extremely popular as is the local cheese or ‘Churpi’. The ‘Chang’, ‘thungba’ or ‘raksi’, the local alcohol and beer are also an attraction here.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was kept here in confinement and he wrote many personal letters to his close ones, describing the beauty of Kurseong.

A popular hill resort nearby is Kurseong, situated at 4864 ft. It is one-hour drive from Darjeeling and a getaway of sorts! One could relax and unwind here after the adventurous trip to Darjeeling. It has a typical small-town charm. The toy train can be tracked down here as well. It has been reported that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was kept here in confinement and he wrote many personal letters to his close ones, describing the beauty of Kurseong. It is indeed a fine place with some breath-taking views.

About Kurseong, they say,

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It happens only in Kurseong…

The train gets caught in a traffic jam!

The unemployed are better dressed than the employed!

You can jump off a train, take a drink and hop back into the train!

If you walk through the town, you will meet the same people ten times!

All pretty girls elope with drivers!

Well, do take a break and travel along this route. Discover monasteries and toy-train tracks and marvel at the wonder of this beautiful valley!

Photos from the Internet


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2 Comments
  1. Rupa Rao 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    True Shaili-Northeast is nature’s own paradise and a MUST visit for everyone-loved every word on what makes it so here. Thank you

  2. Raj Mehta 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    The lady has a feel for words, images; is an acute observer of people and natures many bounties…Darjeeling has much on offer and you must partake of it…Incidentally, it is not in High Himalaya but in the ancient Shivaliks…just like Gangtok, Kalimpong, Mussourie, Shimla…

    Look beyond the bronze Gurkha soldier at a certain angle and on sunny days you might see the Buddha sleeping on Kanchenjunga…He is paying homage to bravery and courage…May be you and I need to pay homage to him and to The Buddha across the cedars, pines, zephyrs and clean air…

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