On our summer vacation to Uttarakhand, Dehradun was first on the itinerary. We spent a few days exploring this city in the Garhwal region.
Start at the Heart
The Clock Tower, known as the Ghanta Ghar, is a popular landmark in the heart of Dehradun. Several major roads intersect at this location. If you are a shopping enthusiast, head to the Ghanta Ghar and walk to Paltan Bazaar, a busy market nearby. Or stroll along Rajpur Road, which is lined with numerous shops.
On our first evening in the city, we plunged headlong into the hustle and bustle of Paltan Bazaar and joined the locals in a search for the best deals. Eventually, all we bought was an inexpensive umbrella (for protection from unexpected showers!), but hey, we enjoyed an “immersive bazaar experience”.
To keep the baby of the family in good spirits, a visit to Malsi Deer Park was a must. Situated approximately 10 km from the city center (on the road to Mussoorie), this small park is home to many deer.
Autos as well as buses connect Malsi Deer Park with the city. We ambled along the paved paths and greeted the gentle animals. Our visit ended with some playtime in the kids’ zone, the perfect treat for Junior.
In Search of the Divine
For those seeking a touch of the divine, Dehradun offers numerous options.
The Tapkeshwar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located in a picturesque setting in the Garhi Cantonment. Here, the shivling is housed inside a cave. We crossed a bridge over a small stream to enter the temple complex, which is blessed with a verdant tree cover as the background. Besides the main Shiva temple, the complex also has a tall statue of Hanuman and a Vaishno Devi cave temple.
Another temple at a beautiful location is the Laxman Sidh temple, just off the Haridwar-Rishikesh road. Nature lovers will enjoy the forest walk from Harrawala to the temple. Although vehicles can ply on this last stretch of about a kilometer, do consider opting for a “walk in the woods”. It is here that Lord Laxmana is believed to have performed penance for killing Ravana.
If you have limited time in Dehradun, one place that you must not miss is the Mindrolling Monastery in Clement Town. Rotate the prayer wheel, spend quiet moments in meditation and prayer, and admire the tall Stupa with a representation of Buddha’s Descent from Devaloka. As you walk around the well-maintained complex, read the placards with thought-provoking content. My eyes were fixed on this one for a long time – “IN THE END, THESE THINGS MATTER MOST: HOW WELL DID YOU LOVE? HOW FULLY DID YOU LIVE? HOW DEEPLY DID YOU LET GO?”
At the monastery, we were fortunate to get a chance to enter the stupa and climb to the top.The balcony offers a bird’s-eye view of the entire complex and its surroundings.
Find your Muse(um)
Passionate about architecture? Enthusiastic about a quiet walk along a tree-lined path? Curious about forestry and forest products? If your answer to any or all of these questions is in the affirmative, take a Vikram (the blue shared auto) or a taxi to the Forest Research Institute.
As we entered the sprawling FRI campus and approached the main building, the sight of the tall trees, the well-manicured lawns, and the majestic building took our breath away. There were numerous delights in store for us.
I could have spent several hours just walking through the hallways and the arches, and admiring their symmetry, strength, and beauty. Although we had heard about a museum in the building, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that it had six (very interesting) sections: Pathology, Social Forestry, Silviculture, Timber, Non-Wood Forest Products, and Entomology.
While the other visitors (a small number) seemed quite disappointed with the museum and hurried out the exit, we spent a considerable amount of time in each section. Our vote? Junior was drawn to the Entomology exhibits, B loved the Social Forestry section, and I favored the Silviculture room.
Wash away your Troubles
To wash away your anxieties and cool your heels, head to the scenic Sahastradhara (Thousand Springs), about 14 kilometers from the city. The drive and the location offer splendid views of the surrounding hills and lush vegetation. Here, you can take a dip in the sulphur springs and explore some fascinating caves. Visitors can also ride a ropeway to the top of a mountain here.
The pools were a bit crowded when we visited. Water bodies are always the most popular and crowded attractions. Later, we followed the trail to the caves and enjoyed the experience until our walk was cut short by a few monkeys blocking the route. We chose to leave them undisturbed and retraced our route back to the parking area.
If you are heading to Dehradun, add some (or all) of these attractions to your list.
– Local Transport: If you choose to use local (public) transport, take one of the numerous Vikrams ( the big, blue, shared autos) to reach your destination
– Rajpur Road, one of the main roads in the city, is lined with many shops and restaurants