St Mary’s Hill a quiet and scenic village sits nestled cozily around 4kms away from the railway station of Kurseong. Away from the hustle-bustle of the town, the quiet and subdued environment of the village attracts both locals and tourists alike.
Perched in the middle of the village is its main public sphere, the Catholic church. Going by the name of St John Berchman’s Church, the church is the village’s primary place of worship for the Catholic majority of St. Mary’s Hill and its surrounding places.
St. John Berchman’s Church was established in the 1880s and was rebuilt to resemble its present look in. The church ever since its inception has been an important landmark of the village of St. Mary’s Hill.
Another landmark the village is known for is the famous Grotto of the Virgin Mary. A holy place dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, the Grotto is actually a copy of the original which is located in a place called Lourdes in France. It is believed that just like the Grotto of Lourdes (France), the Grotto of Mother Mary in St. Mary’s Hill too has miraculous powers. Devotees from far and near visit the Grotto with prayers on their lips and faith in their hearts. The Grotto, surrounded by lush greenery and a peaceful atmosphere has also been recently declared a pilgrimage center by the Bishop of the diocese of Darjeeling–Sikkim, Stephen Lepcha. The Grotto has always been an integral part of the village and the villagers take the utmost care to see to it that it is always clean and well maintained.
St Mary’s Hill is also home to another noteworthy institute i.e. The Eastern Forest Rangers’ College. Built-in 1889, the institution which has an old fashioned charm of its own was once a property of St. Mary’s Seminary and was a training center for Christian brothers of St. Mary’s Convent. It was later purchased by the Government of India in 1974.
Situated just a few meters away from the Grotto, the Rangers’ College, as it is commonly called, stands tall and proud full of its European style grandeur. Just like the colonial buildings of its time, Rangers’ College possesses a very British architectural style, easily making it the most distinguishable building in the entire village.
A little above the Rangers’ College, in the midst of the woods, also lies a great, big statue of Jesus Christ which one can spot easily on the way to the Grotto. This statue too is a famous, recognizable feature that is associated with St Mary’s Hill.
This picturesque village with its rich history and the quaint environment has never failed to attract tourists. Be it for sightseeing, recreation, pilgrimage, or even for morning and evening walks, people often make it a point to visit St Mary’s Hill while in Kurseong.
It takes around 15-20 minutes to reach St. Mary’s Hill from Kurseong town. The visitors can take the local sharing cabs and pay Rs 25/- per head or reserve vehicles for around Rs 150/-. The village is also hike-able wherein the hiker will have to walk on the main roads of the tow. Hiking to St. Mary’s from Kurseong town could take around 30-40 minutes.