Kurseong

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Kurseong
खरसाङ কার্শিয়াং
Town
Kurseong from the train
Dow Hill of Kurseong
Nickname(s): The School Town
Kurseong is located in West Bengal
Kurseong
Kurseong
Location in West Bengal, India
Coordinates: 26°53′N 88°17′E / 26.88°N 88.28°E / 26.88; 88.28
Country  India
State West Bengal
District Darjeeling
Government
 • Body Kurseong Municipality
Area
 • Total 5.05 km2 (1.95 sq mi)
Elevation 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 80,377
 • Density 16,000/km2 (41,000/sq mi)
Languages
 • Regional Nepali, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 734 203
Telephone code 0354
Vehicle registration WB-?
Lok Sabha constituency Darjeeling
Vidhan Sabha constituency Kurseong
Website Offical Site

Kurseong (Nepali: खरसाङ) is a hill station (and sub-divisional town) situated in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India.

In the Lepcha language, Kharsang (खरसाङ) means the "Land of the White Orchids". The town is also known as Khār-sỵāng in Nepali and Kārśiẏāṃ or Karshiyang (কার্শিয়াং) in Bengali.

Located at an altitude of 1,458 metres (4,864 ft),[1] Kurseong is just 32 km (20 miles) from Darjeeling.[2] It has a pleasant climate throughout the year.

Kurseong is 47 km (29 miles) from Siliguri and is connected to the city by road and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra and the nearest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri [NJP], which is about 53 km (32 miles) from Kurseong. The economy of the town is based primarily on education and tourism. The best times to visit Kurseong are during the months of April, May,September and October.

Etymology[edit]

The name of Kurseong comes from the Lepcha word, खरसाङ, Kharsang. It means "Land of the White Orchids", chosen by the first settlers, the Lepcha people, to describe their new home because of the little white orchids dotting the valleys. The name of this orchid is "Kurson-Rip", whose botanical name is coelogyne cristata.

History[edit]

The original inhabitants were the Lepchas, who named their home "Kurseong", because every spring it was alive and bright with the Kurson-Rip. As far as anyone could remember, Kurseong was a part of the Kingdom of Sikkim, even before the British came to India. But in around 1780 the Nepalese conquered and annexed Kurseong and its surrounding areas. Then came the Gurkha War and the Nepalese lost. In 1817, with the Treaty of Titalia, Kurseong was restored to Sikkim.[3]

Because the mountains were always cooler and drier in the summers, the British had always liked Kurseong. But they found it very difficult to travel there from the plains of Bengal, even on sunny and warm days, because of the mountains. They did build a road from Kurseong to 'Darjeeling' from Titalia in the 1770s and 1780s, but its irregular maintenance soon made the new route, the Military Road, almost useless. The next route, Hill Cart Road (now Tenzing Norgay Road), opened in 1861 and it fared better.

Nevertheless, in 1835, the British decided that Darjeeling would make an excellent health sanitarium and summer residence for their military and civil officers and their families. So they negotiated with the Chogyal of Sikkim, Tshudpud Namgyal. For an annual fee, he gave them a strip of hill territory in Kurseong. As one of the hill stations on the roads to Darjeeling, Kurseong began to develop.

Kurseong has one of the oldest municipalities in the state of West Bengal. Established as an independent Municipality in 1879, it did not become a Sub-Division until 1890, when the District of Darjeeling was formed. Kurseong and the District were added to the Rajshahi Division (now West Central Bangladesh) by the British Raj for the Bengal Presidency. In 1908, they were transferred to the Bhagalpur Division in the same Presidency.

Before Independence, there used to be 12 ward commissioners. Four of them were appointed by the British Raj and it also appointed its own man, the Sub-Divisional Officer (S.D.O.), as their Chairman. In 1939, when Bengal became the province of British India, Kurseong was allowed to elect its own member to be the chairman but the Raj continued to send ward commissioners until India gained independence. Nevertheless, between 1939 and 1942, Kurseong grew rapidly. As of today Kurseong has 24 commissioners.

Sights[edit]

Coelogyne cristata, the white orchid from Kurseong
Kurseong Railway Station

Kurseong is a beautiful hill station nestled among the green canopy of myriad tea gardens. The verdurous blooms and winding mossy ways offer an excellent opportunity to unwind oneself from the daily pollution and hustle and bustle of the hectic and artificial city life. Kurseong is pure naturalness combined with its very own serene atmosphere and world class hospitality. Tea gardens include Castleton, Makaibarie, Ambotia and Goomtee. Visits to the tea garden factories can be arranged. You can witness how the tea is being made and the staff are more than happy to provide you with their assistance; in fact they are proud to be able to showcase their skills and knowledge about the tea making process. These tea gardens also offer 'bed and breakfast' type accommodation in workers quarters, etc. Kurseong was famous as a rest town and medical town during the days of the British Raj, with a tuberculosis sanatorium and various villas and bungalows where the erstwhile British employees used to come here in order to escape the stifling heat of the plains.

The toy train station is the nucleus of the town. The train tracks run through the length of the town. Tickets can be obtained at the counter for a sight seeing tour.

Religious sites[edit]

  • The Ambootia Shiva Temple.
  • Giddahpahar Durga Mata Mandir.
  • Jagdish Mandir on Bank Road (on way to the Eagle's Craig). This temple has very old idols (almost 300 years old) of Lord Jagannath.
  • St. Pauls Church on Hill Cart Road, near St. Joseph's School.
  • Buddhist Gompa in Monteviot.
  • Buddhist Gompa in Dowhill Road.
  • Juma Mosque in Hat Bazaar.
  • Grotto and Catholic church in St. Mary's Hill.

Natural sites[edit]

  • Eagle's Craig
  • Deer Park - now known as DowHill Park, on the DowHill Road. This are offers a good walk from the train station. Once you reach the Dowhill school are and walk towards the deer park, then you will find yourself between tall pine trees and the sound of nature. The sound of a creek running nearby, birds chirping, the regular hum of the cicadas. It is relatively safe as the locals are friendly and harmless. In fact you might the odd couple walking shyly.
  • The Kholas (Water Falls - Springs) like Whistle Khola (named by the Britishers, as there is a bend and the toy train whistles when passing through it). It is also known as hussain khola (means river in the local language). Although relatively dry during the dry months of winter, it comes alive during the monsoon season. There is a famous story called the "gadiman" (bullock cart driver) by an famous local writer and is a staple story in the local school syllabus. Everyone who has been raised in those parts knows the story of the gadiman and hence the khola (river).
  • The kettle valley

Museums[edit]

  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum and NSC Bose Institute of Asiatic Studies, hosted in the house of his elder brother, Sarat Chandra Bose, are situated at the Giddhapahar area (5 to 10 minutes drive from the Railway station). Netaji was interned in this house by the British government in the late thirties. The house now displays priceless artifacts depicting the life of our famous freedom fighter. These include photocopies of the exchange of letters between Netaji and his would-be wife, Ms. Emilie, many rare photographs of his Indian National Army (INA), other memorabilia of the Indian Freedom Movement and a few personal belongings of Netaji and the Bose Family.[citation needed]

Other Sites[edit]

  • Chimney: A walk or ride through the forest of Cryptomaria Japonica on the road, now called Aranya Sarani, leads to the vast open meadows at Chimney. The curious name of the place is reminiscent of the days when there was a bungalow here on the only road (Old Military Road) leading to Darjeeling. A long, dilapidated chimney, standing all alone, is the only remnant of the bungalow now.

Naya Busty Park: Convniently located just above the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum, you will just have to follow the road and it will lead you upto this park. This park is fairly well maintained. Wonderful photo ops for photo enthusiasts. There are some spectacular views to be witnessed from here. It is all green and pure. A perfect way to detox yourself.

Civic administration[edit]

A busy road in Kurseong

Kurseong Municipality, which is over 125 years old (one of the oldest in the country), is the main civic administration body for the town of Kurseong. It is located at 13 Dowhill Road. The Municipality is divided into 20 wards [originally 12 wards] and each of the wards has its own ward commissioner. The current Chairman of the Municipal Committee is Mr. Samir Deep Blon, in office since 21 December 2011

The previous Chairman, until 2008, was Mr. P. C. Agarwal. But in early March 2008 his political party, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), lost the control of the Committee in a no-confidence vote to the other Gorkha political party, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM). Since 2007, the GJMM has been campaigning for the creation of a separate state for the Gorkhas, the original goal of the GNLF. Because of the no-confidence vote, Mr. Agarwal was forced to resign and the Municipal Committee was suspended.[4]

Kurseong has its own Munsif Magistrate Court and has 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 Town.

Hospital and Health Care in Kurseong : Kurseong has a Sub Divisional Hospital and no private nursing homes or clinics unlike Kalimpong and Darjeeling.

Gorkha Public Library[edit]

Gorkha Public Library or Gorkha jana pustakalay was established in the year 1913,[5] as an initiative of Indian Gorkha to develop its culture, language and literature, in the small town of Kurseong . It was probably the first Nepali public library project.[5] This small initiative played a vital role in the development of Indian Gorkha culture, language and literature. The library still exists today, and among other things is used as a polling station in local elections.[6]

Bloomfield Library: A well stocked library opposite of the post office. The timings are fairly convenient and there is a minimal fee.

Education[edit]

Goethals Memorial School

Among the towns of Darjeeling District, Kurseong was nicknamed as "the school town" due to the emergence of many new schools in the town. Like the other hill stations within the District of Darjeeling, Kurseong also has its fair share of renowned schools established during the British Rule in India viz St. Alphonsus High School, St Helens Convent, Goethals Memorial School, Dowhill Girls School and Victoria Boys School.

The schools can be classified into two distinct groups. The English Medium and the Nepali Medium. The English medium schools are mostly affiliated to the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, Delhi while the Nepali Medium Schools are affiliated to the State Education Board i.e. West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Calcutta. Only one school Godwin Modern School is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi in Kurseong Town.

English Medium Schools[edit]

WBSE

Saint Alphonsus School a leading school of the town., St. Joseph School

ICSE/ISC

St Helens Convent, Goethals Memorial School, Dowhill Girls School Alumni Association, Victoria Boys' School Alumni Association, Himali Boarding School, Glenhill Public School,Daisies Boarding School, St Anthony's School, Cambridge English Boarding School, Dawn Boarding School, St Augustine's School, Jyaneshwar Memorial Academy, Bellevue Boarding School.

CBSE

Godwin Modern School, Tiny Tots School was the first English Medium nursery school opened in 1970. It is a private school

Nepali Medium Schools[edit]

WBBSE, Pushparani Boys High School, Scottish Mission Girls School, Rama Krishna Girls School, Schools that provides secondary [year 10] as well as higher secondary education [year 12]

Teachers of Dowhill Girls and Victoria Boys' School are recruited through W.B Public Service Commission. Both boys and girls are in Dow Hill School from KG till class III. Thereafter, it is only for the girls. The other school is for boys and from class IV. Both the schools set in picturesque natural surroundings, have hostel facility. While tuition fees are not needed in Govt. schools, moderate fees' for boarding facilities are charged and the amount is less than half of what is required in other schools of the category. These two schools, established between 3 and 17 August 1879, are among the old schools in the country. Sir Ashley Eden the then Lt. Governor of Bengal, had conceived the idea of establishing the school for the children of those in the lower ranks of Government service. When the school was started, it only used to admit children of European origin, and the environment as well as the ideals of the school were that of a typical British Public School. Since then, the educational facilities were extended to others. They are not a Church School. The ideals of the schools changed with Independence, and at that time the very existence of the schools was in jeopardy. But with the timely interference by the Education Department of the Government of West Bengal, the schools quickly adjusted to the new social atmosphere. Soon was a great influx of students of Indian origin and the number of European students decreased. At present almost all are Indian, barring a few from the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan. Students from states other than West Bengal are also admitted without any restriction thus maintaining the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Though the medium of instruction is English, students are made aware of their rich Indian heritage in the classrooms, sports field and on the stage. They are the only schools under the Government of West Bengal, which are affiliated to I.C.S.E and they have produced many distinguished students settled in all parts of the world, who have excelled in different spheres and continue to excel.

Scottish Mission Girls School established in 1909 is celebrating its centenary in 2010. The building and the century old furniture makes the school a Heritage monument.

On May 16, 2005 Himali Boarding School has been appointed as the first Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) centre in north-east of India. The students have the option of sitting for the globally recognised, A and AS [equivalent to year 12 school board examination] level examinations of CIE or the school's own year 12 school board examination [I.S.C].

University Colleges[edit]

Kurseong has one college Kurseong College which is affiliated to the University of North Bengal. It provides undergraduate studies - Bachelor of Arts (General and Honours), Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce (General). The institute is fast developing and is offering bachelor degrees in various fields of Science, Commerce and especially with the introduction of Economics Honours. The institution is looked after by a general body which comprises the Principal of the college, the SDO of Kurseong, appointed Members for the General Body and the most important personnel being the General Secretary of the college who is nominated or elected through a free and fair election. There have been plans that have been undertaken and initiated and recently the college is under expansion, utilisation and construction of the premises. The college also offers diploma courses on various fields and computer education has been made mandatory now.

Darjeeling Polytechnic college offers grades in Civil, Computer, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. The polytechnic college of Kurseong was one of the first and the best engineering colleges in the past, however the institution has been facing a lot of discrepancy and has not been maintained by the authority and the authorities in turn lack support from higher levels.

From 1889 to 1971 there was even, on St. Mary's hill (2 km north on the way to Darjeeling), a Theological College training Jesuit seminarians to the priesthood. The St. Mary's College was shifted to Delhi where, from 1972 onwards (and under the new name of Vidyajyoti College of Theology) it is still flourishing. The old Theologate's building now hosts the Eastern Forest Rangers College, which provides training courses to the would-be Forest Rangers of India. There is a West Bengal Forest School near Deer Park and Victoria Boys School, Dowhill which also provides training for foresters as well. About 6 km north on the way to Darjeeling at Tung, there is an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) which offers various vocational course in plumbing, motor mechanics, and book binding.

Also in St. Mary's Hills, Holy Cross Institute offers higher secondary courses in Commerce via the vocational stream.

Transport[edit]

Kurseong Railway Station

Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri, is 60 km (37 miles) away. Taxis/buses are available at the airport for transit to Kurseong. Siliguri, 50 km (31 miles) and New Jalpaiguri, 57 km (35 miles) are the nearest main stations. Siliguri to Kurseong current share for taxi rental is maximum of Rs. 100 per person. It is an important station on the Toy Train route from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The Toy Train takes a little over 5 hours from New Jalpaiguri to reach Kurseong. Kurseong is also well connected by roads. There are three roads from Siliguri to Kurseong. The shortest one is called Pankabari Road. Taxis are available and it takes 45 minutes to reach Kurseong from Siliguri.

Demographics[edit]

As of 2001 India census,[7] Kurseong had a population of 40,067. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Kurseong has 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, 6% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Media and communications[edit]

All India Radio has a local station in Kurseong which transmits various programs of mass interest. Which was established in the year 1962.

Notable Residents[edit]

8

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vijay Kumar Gupta (1 March 1987). Tourism In India. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 213 ff. ISBN 978-81-212-0124-7. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  2. ^ M.S. Kohli (1 April 2004). Mountains of India: Tourism, Adventure, Pilgrimage. Indus Publishing. pp. 172 ff. ISBN 978-81-7387-135-1. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Kurseong Municipality, “History” [of Kurseong]. Retrieved 2 February 2013
  4. ^ “GNLF loses control over Kursong civic board”, OutlookIndia.com, 18 March 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013
  5. ^ a b Chalmers, Rhoderick (2009). "Education, institutions and elites building and bounding Nepali public life in early Twentieth Century India". In Tanka Bahadur Subba. Indian Nepalis: Issues and Perspectives. Concept Publishing Company. p. 127. ISBN 9788180694462. 
  6. ^ Information Booklet. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha Election - 2012
  7. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 

External links[edit]