Dehradun is the capital of Uttarkhand or Uttaranchal (as it was previously known) and is one of the most popular destination for tourists and nature lovers. This hill station has seen many changes in the last decade and has grown to become one of the developing IT hubs in India. The climate and various tourist attractions make this city rich in culture as well as in finances. As the city is nestled among mountains near the foothills of Himalaya, there are many other attractive locations that can be found in the vicinity.
How to reach
Dehradun is reachable by using road transportation, by air, and by trains. In fact the only airport in the state is near the city; approximately ten kilometers or six miles from the center of the city. The airport is called the Jolly Grant Airport and is connected to Delhi and other cities via Delhi. Rail service can also be used and provides a stunning view of the nearby mountain ranges. Many trains such as Shatabdi Express, Dehradun- Howrah express, Dehradun- Mumbai express make it easier to get to this hill station. Travel by road is also possible and the city is connected with Delhi, Missouri, Haridwar, and Rishikesh. Taxis and buses are abundant and are available to-and-fro
Nature & Recreational
Rajaji national park
This park was founded in 1960’s and is home to many species of flora and fauna; the main attraction being the Bengal tiger. However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to spot a tiger in a single day’s tour. On the other hand there are species such as elephants, rhesus monkeys, sambhars, jackals and countless others that can be easily spotted. The national park is spread over eight-hundred square kilometers of land and is a pristine and beautiful forest. There are over four hundred bird species that may be of interest to ornithologists as well as tourists. Many of these birds are migratory birds and are among the rarest of species in the world. A person can stay at the government resorts that are available in the park or choose from one of the accommodations of Camp king Elephant.
Literally meaning ‘a thousand springs’, this is a waterfall that is located within the city limits and is about nine meters in height. The waterfall is famous for its medicinal values and is a popular location for people to undergo natural water therapy. The water contains Sulfur that is supposed to be beneficial to our health and many people can be seen enjoying this place. The best season to visit is in the monsoons when the streams are overflowing and the water is sparklingly clear. The stunning beauty of the place is almost mesmerizing and a whole day can be spent relaxing and enjoying the proximity of Mother Nature. Accommodations are also available in the form of cabins and can be used if you plan to stay for a longer period of time. You can hire a taxi or a bus for getting to Sahastradhara from Dehradun which is only seven miles away from the city center.
Malsi Deer Park
The Malsi deer park is one of the most attractive locations in the city and is located about six miles from the city center. As the name itself suggests the park provides a pristine habitat for some interesting species of deer. The Nilgai which is unique to India can be found in this park; the deer is a type of sacred cow that is revered and worshipped by the locals and is the biggest antelope in the Subcontinent. It is a diurnal animal so spotting it is very easy and they are not as shy as other deer. A children’s park is also located near the deer park which can be a very relaxing place for picnics and outings.
This is another location that is famous for its underground water channels which make it appear as though the water has vanished; but then surfaces in yet another cave. The caves are a labyrinth of underground water channels that are attractive as well as unique. The place is about eight kilometers or five miles from the city and can be reached by using buses or taxis. However there is a one kilometer trek before you reach the caves so a little bit of preparation and some necessities such as water may be required when you visit the location.
Forest Research Institute
The Forest research institute is one of the national heritage institutes in India that trains many forest officers and is one of its kinds in Asia. This institute was established in 1906 and is one of the oldest institutes of its kind. The building itself has a Greek structure and is located near the foothills of Himalayas. The spacious and immaculate campus surrounding this institute makes it a tourist attraction as well as an educational entity. The tons river is located near this institute that offers opportunity for river rafting till the month of July. Many people come here to enjoy the adventure sports that are offered by this body of water that is a tributary to the river Yamuna.
The survey of India Institute
The survey of India is one of the oldest institutes that are located in Dehradun; it started operations in 1845 and has seen many great personalities using its facilities. Sir George Everest started his survey of determining the height of Mount Everest in this institute. There is a museum near the institute that attracts thousands of tourists every year because of the original Theodolite that was used by Lambton and Everest when they worked here.
Countless locations that are in close proximity to Dehradun provide an opportunity for adventure sports; it can be river rafting or perhaps skiing. The nearest and most famous skiing resort is in Auli. The only hurdle that you may face when visiting Auli is the unpredictable weather and the tiring journey. Furthermore, this place has spiritual significance and many beautiful mountains in the range are named after mythological gods and goddesses. The area receives heavy snowfall during winters and many temples and places of worship are closed during that time. Trekking is also one of the sports that are famous in the area; smaller treks can be undertaken with the help of local guides. These treks are usually for one day and not very tiring. However opportunities for extensive trekking are also available. Hotels and basic log cabins can be used for a sojourn; however many log cabins and smaller hotels do not have running hot water which has to be specially ordered.
This is a famous picnic and tourist attraction located 22 kilometers or twelve miles from Dehradun. The place is usually crowded with tourists from all over the world; however it is easy to find a cool and aloof spot if you want to retreat into the serenity of nature. Boat rides are also available for as low as ten rupees or fifteen American cents. The economical rates ensure that people from all walks of life enjoy this place.
Tapovan Any place in India where there has been a history of spiritual retreat is called a Tapovan. Literal breakdown of the word will roughly translate to ‘forest of meditation’ and one can be found near Dehradun which also serves as a picnic spot for children and adults alike. This place has temples that are surrounded by a thick canopy of trees which provide austere surroundings for relaxation and quiet walks. The place has immense religious importance and lies on the banks of the holy Ganges. The religious aura surrounding this place is immedietly apparent by the many Sadhus or holy men who have made this place their humble abode.
The Great Stupa
This is a 185 feet structure that is a magnificent example of Buddhist art and architecture. This Stupa was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself and holds immense Buddhist importance. This is also one of the tallest Stupa’s in the world and compliments the statue of Buddha that is located near Clement town. This statue is supposedly created in the same style as those of Bamiyan Buddhas which were destroyed by terrorists in Afghanistan. The stupa and the statue both carry the message of peace and compassion and are one of the major tourist attractions that is worth seeing.
This temple is located near a place called Mohabbewala and it is said that it was the abode of saint Gautama and his wife and children. The temple has a small ‘Kund’ or a pond that is a manifestation of the holy river Ganges which gives it religious significance. Many devotees from India come here to take a dip in the Kund for atonement and worship.
The Laxman Sidh Temple
This temple is located in the Lacchiwala forests and is one of the famous temples near Dehradun. Many worshippers flock the temple which is built in the memory of a saint named Laxman Sidh who meditated extensively in these forests. The Suswa River flows near the temple and the shrine itself is located on the Haridwar-Rishikesh highway. This temple is around six miles or ten kilometers from the city and is accessible by road.
Dehradun is a very popular tourist destination and many hotels are available from log cabins for parsimonious customers to plush hotels that cater to the need of the elite. A simple Internet search will reveal many hotels and booking one in advance is important in order to get your choice of accommodation. Make sure to call the hotel first and double check about the facilities that are provided since many smaller hotels and log-cabins do not have some facilities such as hot running water. However if you opt for a hotel that is world-class or a luxurious one then there would not be any problem except a lighter pocket. One such hotel is The Madhuban which has been approved by the Government and is a 3 star inn. However, if you plan to stay for a short period only then you can adjust for one day in a log-cabin or a lodge. These small residential places provide a perfect solution for a sojourn when you are traveling.
As Dehra is a tourist attraction you can certainly stumble upon a Dominoes or a Pizza Hut. However, there are a plethora of culinary delights available in the region and many hotels cater to the need of an adventurous customer who is not shy to try new things. The local flavor can also be enjoyed at the many crafts festivals and other festivals which are promoted by the local tourism board. Of course they are no substitute for the real “pahari” or mountainous food that is famous for its simplicity and nutritional value. If you have a relative or a friend staying near Dehradun then it could be a great opportunity for you to enjoy the delight of the local flavor. If you are visiting India for the first time then it is advisable to shun fast food as well as roadside eateries. Conversely these eateries are the best place to pamper your taste buds if you think that you have a stomach to endure the local bacteria.
Uttaranchal shares its border with Tibet and Tibetan cuisine has permeated into the local recipes. This coalescence of two cultures has brought about culinary delights that are not available in any other part of India. Momos and Thukpas are some of the best street cuisine that is available in Dehradun. Momos are like Potstickers that are stuffed with minced meat and Thukpas are Tibetan version of Mongolian hotpots and are made from a mixture of noodles, soup, and chicken pieces which are served in a hot steaming pot. If you want something that would not affect your tummy then some famous restaurants that can be spotted are the Yeti, Kwality, and The Countdown. However, these are also typical Indian restaurants that serve continental dishes. The food is usually spicy and is literally a potpourri of culinary delights from more than one country.
A cut above
Some top class restaurants offer the best and the most hygienic food that will not upset your stomach. These are usually the in-house restaurants of good quality hotels; some of them include the President, The Madhuban, and The Orchid. Some of these are rustic in design and are equipped with a bar as well. One point to remember here is that these hotels are crowded and you may be required to book in advance to enjoy what they offer.
No article would be complete without mentioning the various sweets and confectionaries that are found this city. The Stickjaw chocolate is famous here and as the name suggests it is so sticky that it’s hard to reopen your mouth when you chew upon one of these. Popular among kids, these candies can be bought at the Kwality bakery which was established here in the year 1947. They are a unique invention which can be hoarded and taken home for friends and family. Of course, the plethora of Bengali and Indian sweets can mollify your fatigue and give you a distinct flavor of Indian sweets that is hard to forget. Sweet shops galore, it only remains to be seen whether you can digest the various products on offer; very much like the snowy sugar like landscape and scenery that adorn this beautiful city which thrives in the shadow of the Himalayan Mountains.