Kurseong

From Gorkhapedia, the free Gorkha encyclopedia that anyone can edit

Category Places
Allied Category Darjeeling District
What is it? A Town
In the District of Darjeeling
In the State of West Bengal
In the Nation of India
Geographical Position Eastern Himalayas - Darjeeling Himalayas - Siwalik Hills
Geometric Position (Latitude and Longitude)
Area
Elevation
Population
Density
Pin code
Telephone code
Vehicle Registration Numbers
Administered by Sub-Division Officer

INTRODUCTION

One the way from Bagdogra or Siliguri, the transport stops at Kurseong to give its occupants some relaxation. One can stretch ones limbs while looking around this little town known as “Land of the White Orchids”. Kurseong commands a direct view of the plains nearly 5, 000 feet below.

Kurseong has a rather unique and spectacular view of the road, rail track and market 'moving' together towards Darjeeling. It is surrounded by famous tea gardens, producing some of the finest Darjeeling tea in the world. At one time it was fashionable for the rich and famous of India to have a summer residence in the town. The most memorable of the said citizens were Mark Twain, Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, Abanindra Nath Tagore, Sister Nivedita and Subhash Chandra Bose.


A BRIEF HISTORY1

According to Iman Sigh Chemjong in his Brief History of Kirat Period Bijaypur, a Kiranti Pradesh called Bijapur once ran from the Trishuli River to the Teesta including Western Sikkim. It included the present day Darjeeling District and the sub division of Siliguri. Darjeeling then fell into Pallo Kirant As the decades rolled by, the kingdom broke up and the present day Darjeeling tract fell under Sikkim till it was conquered by the Gorkhas of Nepal. The Gorkhas held this tract of land for thirty years. They finally surrendered it to the Britishers after the Sigauli Treaty of 1815. There after in 1817 Darjeeling was again given back to Sikkim under the Titaliya Treaty of 1817. Sikkim held it till 1835 when Col. Loyd under suspicious circumstances got the Deed of Darjeeling Tract from the Rajah of Sikkim. Against this deed the Britishers paid an annual rent to the Rajah of Sikkim.

map-of-bijaypur-empire.gif

Kharsang, Kurseongguree and now Kurseong, connotes three different explanations. Kharsang, home of the Lepchas, for them Kurseong was the land of the White Orchids that hangs from every moss covered branch. Kurseongguree for the Gurkhas of Nepal a frontier post in the Far East and Kurseong the anglicized version of the native name by the first white colonials.

It is wrong to assume that Darjeeling and its sub division began with the advent of the colonials. The land was a very big mass of alpine forests dotted with fast flowing ravines and people did live in it but they were small in number and scattered about. Lepchas, Kirantis, and other ethnic Gorkhas did live in this land before the colonials. It was only when the Old Military Road (1839) and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (1879) reached Darjeeling town that the numbers began to swell from adjoining areas and Darjeeling district as of today began. One ought not to believe solely the accounts left by white botanists or mercenaries. To cite an example, for J.T. Pearson, the Medical Officer of Darjeeling (1839) the Lepchas were useless as domestic hands while for another Captain Herbert, they were heroes equaling the ablest European. (Note on Darjeeling, J.T. Pearson).

Kurseong located at an altitude of 4,864 feet and in 26-53 north Latitude and 88-17 east Longitude as said by the eminent writer Mark Twain is the point where India ends and Central Asia begins. And Kurseong from its modern day inception has its very own rugged mongoloid spirit. It was a town by chance not by design. It forced itself on its planners. The railway authorities Under Major Lindsay, the manager of East Bengal railway had planned to extend the railway line from Jalpaiguri (there was no railway line to Siliguri) to Adlapore. From there they would run a narrow gauge railway to Panighatta and up the valley (and below Hope Town) to Darjeeling. Hope Town below present day Sonada was built in anticipation of the narrow gauge passing through it

Kurseong though small has had its fair brushes with the local and national history. The first Nepali Literary magazine ‘Chandrika’ was published from Kurseong and still is in circulation. Recently it celebrated its centenary. The first Nepali novel too came out from Kurseong from the hands of Pratiman Singh Lama. It was here in Tindharia, that Rabindranath saw the himalyan clouds that would refrain in many of his works in his later period. It was also at Giddhapahar, where Subhash Chadra Bose was interred for a brief period of time. And at Giddaphar, Junga Bahadur Rana, the founder of the Rana Dynasty of Nepal, is said to have worked incognito as a labourer during the construction of the railway track.

In the technical and engineering field, Narbhup Rai along with Padma Sunder Malla started the Faji Hydel Electric Project in 1933 and started supplying electricity to Kurseong, without British assistance or expertise. Narbhup Rai was a graduate in Electric and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, U.S.A. while Padma Sunda Malla was a product of the University of Pennsylvania. Of present times, Madhusudan Giri, the erstwhile Principal of Darjeeling Polytechnic Principal was a part of the Indian delegation that went to France to finalise the deal of the French Mirage aircrafts.

In the field of sports, it is the home of C.S. Gurung the Hockey Olympiad who was a part of the victorious Indian team at the Helsinki Olympics.

From 23rd August 2007, Kurseong has once again been pushed into the international map by the setting up of Darjeeling Himalayan Headquarters in its vicinity.

Lastly the revolution that ignited the hearts and stirred the imagination of many a Gorkhas settled in India and abroad, began in Kurseong. And if I say from Kurseong, Sikkim can be seen, very few would believe; but then on a clear day, take a pair of lens and go to the zero point at Bagora, you will see Guru Padma Sambhava smarting at your face.


PLACES TO VISIT

AMBOOTIA SHIV MANDIR

Around 5 km from the town, the Shiv Temple situated at Ambotia Tea Estate is fascinating. The Ambotia landside itself drops 1,000 metres and is 1.5 km wide offering the most beautiful fo sceneries.

EAGLE'S CRAIG

Situated around 1 km from the railway station, Eagle’s Craig is an ideal spot for the view of the hills and plains. The sunset is always an unforgettable experience.

GIDDHEYPAHAR MANDIR

Situated around 2 km from the town the Giddhapahar Mandir dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the most revered of temples in the hills. A fair is held here on Shivratri.

MAKAIBARI TEA ESTATE

Situated around 4 km from the town, Makiabari Tea Estate can be visited to witness the manufacturing of the famous Darjeeling Tea.

DEER PARK

Situated around 4 km from the town on Dow Hill Deer Park is essentially an amusement park. There is also a forest museum and a forest school.


[[bibliography]]

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A guide to Darjeeling Hills by Barun Roy
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Rover Roars by Barun Roy, Businessworld 27 June 2008

[[/bibliography]] Darjeeling Polytechnic Ground(Monteviot Ground).

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