Among the many spooky places in India, Kurseong is one. Or is that a hype created by the locals, who are perhaps hand in glove with tourists & media?

We were keen to explore & lift the veil of mystery that cloaks the valley.

If you missed my post on Dow Hills & Forest, click on

A little away from Dow Forest, lay more hoary edifices —all vestiges of British colonialism.

The chill in the air was palpable. 

And suddenly, shattering the silence, were sounds of jingling anklets! Was that a witch??🤔 Perhaps a ‘phantom of delight’! Nah! Nature had strapped a string of bells as anklets on saltating crickets & fireflies, & this woodnote became the incidental music in the wilderness.☺️ 

We drove through the black forest abounding in leviathans. Each time we paused to click, their talon-like boughs fell on our shoulders! It was indeed eerie!😱

The milky mist that puffed up every now & then —ruffling the foliage, sent shivers down the vines that had espaliered around the barks &, the ensuing susurration added to the mystery.

I wondered if the crunchy rustling of dead leaves below our feet would stir up a sleeping snake or rouse a bear on prowl. For, so deep & dense was the jungle.

We paused every now & then to feast our eyes, lock in the beauty on our lens, listen to the crickets & pick wild berries. We were lone rangers & luckily there wasn’t any vehicle following us. 

Suddenly, they emerged out of the smoky fug —ruddy & heaped. Even as I peered to catch a better glimpse, another wave of ashen mist enveloped the pile ensconced on the grassy glade.

We halted at a safe distance because no vehicle was allowed anywhere near the spot.

Soon, we came face to face with a hulking façade —done in grey stone & capped by red roofs.

Dow Hill School (New School)

Where were the pupils? Where were their preceptors? Even as we stood wondering, a few fallen leaves forced by the hands of a passing gale, came hurtling our way. Or was that the work of a fiend lurking in the grove?

The susurrating sounds of leaves & the eldritch din were so captivating, that I closed my eyes to recapture the scene in my headspace.

There was not a soul in sight. And….the halls of ivy seemed to echo with the sweet sounds of silence. The billowing mist served as time even as the monument stood stoic & mute to the vicissitudes of time.

We rambled gingerly, inspecting the purlieus. The school had closed for Pujo holidays. The formidable structure resembled a wonderland —pregnant with intriguing tales of twisted fates.

A flight of steps ran down —leading to perhaps some mysterious underground lair. A musty odour emanated from the dank moss-mantled walls. Far below, lay an open gate & I felt like Alice in Wonderland! I’d have ventured in, but for some unseen hands that forbade me from stepping any further.

Barring the stairs leading to ‘God knows where’, there was no other room that was accessible.

The school gates remained firmly shut & apart from a few strays & a grouchy lady who was perhaps the school janitor, we had nothing much to sight.

We drove down a few miles to Victoria Boys’ School, another place rumoured to be ‘haunted’! 

Apart from Indian sophomores, its alumni comprise boys from neighbouring Bangladesh & Nepal too. The kerb appeal seemed more arcane but unfortunately, a guard with a grim bearing, denied us entry. 

His surly & sombre temperament got us more curious. Why?? What was so bizarre about the place? What were the goings-on there? But we perforce had to retrace our steps. 

En route, we came across this dilapidated church.

A fire at the start of the 20th century was supposed to have ruined part of the church after which the chapel continued to remain in a state of disrepair.

Kurseong Old Chapel

Yet, this elegiac ruin looked very appealing. I wondered how it would have been to have lived in that era…history & the past can be very, very fascinating. 

I tried peeping in through the broken panes. I couldn’t find much. So, I mentally conjured up sepia-tinted images of yesteryears that I’ve seen only in movies.

Haze & clouds had begun to bedim the skies. We knew we had to leave.

As we emerged out of the strange Xanadu, we were drenched by soft sunlight that streamed through the skies. 

Once again, well-manicured tea-gardens began to replace the deep dark silhouettes of trees. 

Yet, there was something very comforting about the forest. The woods were mystical, yet serene.

There was character, story, romance, depth & mystery in the enchanting woods. The understory was replete with backstories of star-crossed lovers, of witches & wizards, of cloak-and-dagger whodunits.

The forest had, like a blanket, wrapped me in its cool comfort. There was an unusual hygge & contentment about being in the magical woods. 

At one point, I felt like their confidante. At another, I felt vulnerable —wanting them to heed my pleas, comfort & heal me. I wasn’t out of the woods yet!

And when I stepped out of the wondrous woodland into the eyesome tea-gardens, I felt as if that sylvan blanket was yanked off my person. I suddenly felt bare & imperilled in the world of my own ilk!

We had dared to tear down the gossamer of mystery that shrouds this mysterious town; we had relished every bit of the therapeutic Shinrin-yoku. 🥰

How I wish this outlier would remain out of reach for most, so that it remains a hidden gem —virgin & pristine. And I hope this veil of enigma would continue to cocoon this ethereal fairyland..

Yes, I’ve brought this bewitching black magic to light (of course, I’m not the first to have) but I just couldn’t contain my joy & through this post I wish to relive the precious moments spent in this Edenic Elysium…🥰




  1. Kishore Kumar

    Wonderfully captivating narration ! One can vicariously experience the mystique and perhaps one yearns to weave a script around this milieu ! Excellent pix too as usual

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Oh yes! The ambiance is perfect for a crime thriller or a horror flick. Yet, the heartsease of being there is inexplicable…it’s very very comforting…

  2. Harpal

    Very well penned Shubhrata. Your write up makes me feel am enjoying the beautiful nature by myself.

    Great going. Keep it up.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. It’s a lovely place & I’m glad about the notoriety that the place has earned. That keeps it beyond reach to the riff-raff, which would otherwise vandalize it..It’s certainly a must-visit.

  3. Harpal

    Your write up makes me feel am enjoying the beautiful nature by myself.

    Great going. Keep it up.

  4. Sabina Iyer

    As usual mesmerizing pics. And watta a lovely description. The narrative was so captivating, I could feel the woods, the spookiness.. Too good👍

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Hey thank you for finding the time to read. Yes, it’s indeed a mesmerizing place. Eerie & yet comforting…

  5. Sangeetha iyer

    This feels right out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, spooky and eerie surroundings, stunningly given apt descriptions and realism at the same time. Well done 👍🏼

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      It indeed is. It’s an ideal place that spurs for quiet contemplation. And as I said, despite its spookiness, it was still very soothing.

  6. Radhika Vijay

    Wo !!!that must have been one unforgettable trip.Beautifully described and lovely pictures to go with it Shubrata as always

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you. I’m so glad that you liked it. Yes, this place can be called India’s Black Forest. Very soothing & magical place..


    I admire your eloquent writing style so beautifully penned.Amazing pics.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Readers like you encourage me to continue posting my articles..thank you for finding the time to read & reply…

  8. Tejinder Kandhari

    5. “I appreciate the depth of research evident in your article.The clarity of your ideas and the seamless flow of your writing made for an enjoyable read.Each picture tells a story, and together they create a visually compelling experience.”

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you so much for finding the time to read. The woods are always magical & when I set foot into the forest, it was like being transported to another world! 😍

  9. Kaushik Sankaran

    It was truly enchanting. Wonderful pics and nicely penned. Hope it was an unforgettable experience.

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      It indeed was unforgettable & I do revisit through my pictures, through my own writings & by recollecting the scenes. Do visit the place sometime.

  10. Pravin Shringarpure

    While reading the blog i thought i was walking in the wilderness of the forest expecting the cry of a wolf. The mist and the mystical surroundings in your snaps with the chilling description of abandonded school ,the broken starcase, the dwarfed chapel building, cracking sound of the fallen leaves under the feet,a prowling bear, would compel the makers of twilight saga a sequel 2 perhaps 3 ,i thought.

    A beautifully written blog which is such a pleasure to read, may i say A POETRY IN MOTION?

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Thank you so much for detailing every point of what I wrote🤩. It only shows what a keen reader you are. And it’s my pleasure writing for readers like you.
      Main shayar toh nahin, magar in wadiyon ne shayar bana diya

  11. Loved your writing style, wanted you to write about Kurseong a lot more….

    1. Shubhrata Shankar Iyer

      Hi. Yes, that’s precisely the reason I divided Kurseong into 2 parts. There’s more to come. As I earlier said, Darjeeling especially the main town as such, is quite filthy. However, there’re many beautiful landscapes in & around Darjeeling, which are all a must-visit
      Sadly, tourists visit only the main points & leave. Do watch this space for more…

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