Kurseong is a small town located about 32 kilometers from the famous hill station of Darjeeling. The actual name of the place was Kharsang meaning “Land of the White Orchids” in the Lepcha language but over the time it changed and this town is now known as Kurseong. Interestingly enough, this place has quite a history to it. Initially it was a part of the kingdom of Sikkim but then later conquered by the Nepalese Gurkhas. Then in 1817, after the Gurkha War, it was again restored as a part of Sikkim. British liked this town very much and would love to travel here all the time; they even built a road to Kurseong. It also has one of the oldest municipalities in the seat of West Bengal.
This place is a perfect destination for tourists seeking to spend some time in the hills. There are numerous religious sites, natural sites, museums and treks in Kurseong but despite all this, the one thing that attracts people here are the famous haunting tales. This town is over-shadowed by the nearby hill station of Darjeeling and majority of the people would just visit and return from Darjeeling. The only thing that makes people travel from Darjeeling to Kurseong is to find about more about the place that is listed as one of India’s most haunted.
Usually with places believed to be haunted, that is one particular spot that seems to be the center of all supernatural activities. But with Kurseong it is a different story altogether. It seems that this entire hill-station is more or less a ghost town. A haunted building, a haunted road, mysterious forests, sinister treks, headless corpse, ghost of a woman running after people, whispers in the wind, red eyes in the dark, screams of women, mysterious deaths, you name it and Kurseong has got it. Every ghost story, every legend you have ever heard seems to have taken shape here and of course, the locals brag about it so fondly.
Out of the many places believed to be haunted in Kurseong, the number one spot is definitely of Victoria Boys High School, located on Dow Hill. Surprisingly, this beautiful school is over 100 years old which would probably make it one of the oldest still functional schools in the country. Its foundation was laid by British in the year 1879. There are several stories about this school but all the incidents occur during the holiday season when the entire school is shut-down. People talk about how they still hear boys running and laughing in the corridors of the empty building. Some people mention seeing a boy standing at one of the windows, staring at them from the inside while the school was closed for holidays and there could not have been anyone inside. The most sinister story however is of a headless boy who haunts this school and many people claim to have seen it either on the premises or around the building of the school. School administration however of course denies all these rumors. There has never been a recorded death on the premises, either accidental or natural. None of the teachers or students has ever seen a ghost in the building, the students however though love to talk about it but teenagers getting fascinated by ghost stories would hardly surprise anyone.
Another believed to be haunted spot in Kurseong is Dow Hill and the forest surrounding it. Our headless ghost seems to be present here as well however at Dow Hill he does more than just making an appearance. As per the locals, while walking alone on the roads at Dow Hill, several people found themselves being followed by the headless zombie. Later on this ghost would just disappear in the forest but would forever haunt the memories of the person who saw it. People talk about how anyone who ever saw this ghost would always had that feeling that they are being followed by someone or there is a pair of eyes looking at them at all times. This feeling would torment and depress the person so much that it would eventually lead to a suicide. Some of the other tales about the Dow Hill forest are the usual tales of people hearing voices, sightings of a woman in white, red eyes staring out of the dark and many more of ghost tales that you would usually hear about several other places. Another thing that Dow Hill is notorious for are the murders and suicides that have taken place here, of which the administration offices have no record.
I cannot say that why anyone would believe that Kurseong needed a ghost to be known. This place has already made its mark in the history and is stunningly scenic. The ascent from Rangtang to Kurseong comprises of beautiful landscapes, wooded mountains, tea gardens, tea factories and forests. Furthermore, it is quite a busy town in itself that is filled with children while the two great once British schools Dow Hill Girls and Victoria Boys school are open. There is nothing sinister about this place at all. It is just a quiet hill station standing still in time. There have certainly been deaths here but people die everywhere. It’s not like that the people here are immortals. Every city, every town, every village in the world has cases of murders and suicides. So what makes the deaths in Kurseong a work of ghosts? Why can it not be that people killed each other or themselves out of their own problems?
One common thing about all the “believed to be haunted” places is that locals love to talk about their ghosts, as if they are talking about their pet dog. I once read a theory somewhere that once these tales are told too often, even the lies that we ourselves told takes shape of a truth in our own hearts. Children here grow up listening to these stories and even though they never see anything supernatural themselves; by the time they reach their adulthood they hold a firm belief that the place they live in is indeed haunted. Some people talk about ghosts just for fun while others talk because they know it will promote tourism to the place. More than half of the tourists in Kurseong ask around about the locals and where can they hope to see a ghost, as if they are in a zoo and want to see the tiger. These are the people who would go back and tell other how they indeed see a ghost or something supernatural when the truth actually is that they saw nothing.
Ghost or no ghost, the truth is that Kurseong is a peaceful town that has been made look sinister by the locals themselves. There is a beautiful 150 year old school which is being portrayed as a haunted building rather than a monument of British era. Beautiful dense forests are being talked about as murder and suicide spots. I agree that it is indeed promoting the tourism here but is all that really needed? Darjeeling is anyways over-crowded, more of a residential city than a tourist destination and people often go looking for more secluded spots where they can spend some time in peace. That gives ample opportunity to Kurseong to receive its own share of tourists. So why all the ghost stories?
One thing that everyone overlooks is that this place is crowded with children, not only the ones that belong here but of other towns too, coming to attend school. These children walk down the same roads, spend their time in the same building but have never been bother, hurt or killed by any ghost ever. How is that possible if indeed this place is so haunted? Do kids no always become the easy prey for evil spirits to posses or hurt in all the ghost stories?