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Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Perched at an elevation of 640m above sea level, Dehradun is the capital city of one of northern India’s most beautiful states, Uttarakhand. Dehradun is a treasure trove of unparalleled beauty and intriguing history. Located in the Doon Valley, this city is situated between the Song river on the east and Asan river on the west. ‘Dehradun’ is best known for its pleasant and milder climatic condition throughout the year.

There are many places in Dehradun that will leave you in awe with its serene beauty and calmness. We’ve built a guide for the travellers which will come in handy for you all while selecting the places to visit in Dehradun.

This city is a gateway to India’s popular tourist destinations like Mussoorie, Dhanaulti, Uttarkashi, Lansdowne, Auli, and various revered sites like Haridwar. This city is just not known for providing exotic backdrops, but also is home to India’s most reputed Institutions. Be it a visit for your professional meets or leisure, Dehradun has everything to offer you across its vistas. And be assured, you will fall in love with this city during your visit. This city has a vibe that makes it stand out from the other cities.

HOW DID DEHRADUN GET ITS NAME?

There are a series of stories or legends, associated with the name of any city. Some are mythological ones or some due to the geography of that place. But, it’s always exciting to unravel the story behind it. Let’s get to know what is actually went behind in naming this Dehradun the city of love.

STORY BEHIND ITS ESTABLISHMENT

Once  Guru Ram Rai Ji, son of Guru Har Rai Ji, came to the Dehradun region with his followers and devotees. This was the time when this city started developing, He established a camp here for his followers. Since, the place where a person gets settled down is known as ‘Dera’ in Hindi, the word ‘Dehra’ was chosen as a prefix for the name of this city. 

ACCORDING TO GEOGRAPHICAL FACTOR

The Himalayas are divided into three parallel regions from top to bottom. Those are Greater Himalayas(The Himadri), Lesser Himalayas (The Himachal) and the Shivalik or Shiwalik.

 Shiwalik Hills were formed by the accumulation of conglomerates (sand, stone, silt, gravel, debris etc.). These conglomerates, in the initial stages of deposition, obstructed the courses of the rivers draining from the higher reaches of the Himalayas and formed temporary lakes. With the passage of time, these temporary lakes accumulated more and more conglomerates. The conglomerates were well settled at the bottom of the lakes.

When the rivers were able to cut their courses through the lakes filled with conglomerate deposits, the lakes were drained away leaving behind plains called ‘duns’ or ‘doons’ in the west and ‘duars’ in the east.

This is how ‘Dun’ or ‘Doon’ got attached to the name of this city.

Combining the story behind its establishment and the geographical location of this city, the name Dehradun came into existence.

ETYMOLOGY

The word Dehradun can be split into two parts i.e. ‘DEHRA” + “ DUN”.”  In which the former one is a Hindi word with the meaning of the temple, whose etymology is: “dev” + “ghar”. While the latter one, “DUN” derives from the Sanskrit droṇa and means “a tract of country lying in a valley”.

WHY DEHRADUN IS KNOWN AS “ The School Capital of India”

Ever wondered, that despite innumerable cities across the country, why the capital city of Uttarakhand- Dehradun is termed as The School Capital Of India??

Well, curiosity can kill the cat, so let’s unravel this education hub of India.

The foundation of this education hub was laid much before during the Mahabharata era. It is believed that Pandavas and Kauravas were trained on this very land, by their Guru Dronacharya. Thus, the city got its name- Drona Nagari.

Dehradun just does not brag about the number of reputed educational institutions with world-class infrastructure. But this city has given many luminaries to the country. Some of the very famous alumni of the imperial boarding schools of this city include – Abhinav Bindra( Professional shooter), Rajiv Gandhi (Politician & 6th Indian PM), Amitav Ghosh(Indian writer), Naveen Patnaik( Indian Politician & 14th CM of Odisha), Tarun Tahiliani, and Bunker Roy(Social activist & the Founder of Barefoot College) and many more.

rimc dehradun
RIMC, Dehradun

Whether you want to make a career in mountaineering/forestry or anything under the sky, this ‘Eton Of East’ has prominent institutions for every field. The Indian Military Academy (IMA), Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Uttarakhand Ayurveda University, Forest Research Institute (FRI), Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, and Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy are situated in this capital city Dehradun.

Over the last decade, as a center for higher education in North India, Dehradun has grown enormously. It’s not just the number of reputed schools and institutions that make this city the education hub. But it’s the environment provided in the schools of Dehradun. The schools in Dehradun strive to provide them with world-class educational facilities that are not limited to classrooms and examination halls.

Furthermore, after a tiring session of studies, one would wish for other recreational activities as well. Dehradun offers a variety of adventure sports including paragliding, river rafting, bungee jumping, swimming, and ice skating. There are ample opportunities for cricket, basketball, football, and many other sports.

One can not deny that Studying in such a great environment where your mind also gets exposure is just far better than studying in a private school with nothing to explore. And Dehradun is blessed with the beauty and clean environment, all around. That is why it takes a top spot in the choices of favourite cities to pursue higher education.

PLACES TO VISIT IN DEHRADUN

TAPKESHWAR TEMPLE

tapkeshwar-temple dehradun uttarakhand
Tapkeshwar Temple, Dehradun

In the valley of Dehradun, just 5 km away from the main city, alongside the Tons river, there is a very prominent Tapkeshwar Mahadev Temple. Tapkeshwar believed to be a 5000-year-old Lord Shiva temple during the time of Mahabharat. Pandavas guru Dronacharya with his son Ashwathama used to live in this place.

Tapkeshwar Mahadev is a Swayambhu Shivling (Swayambhu is a Sanskrit word that means “self-existing” or  “that means created of its own accord”). Tapkeshwar is a blend of two words: ‘Tapak,’ which means ‘dripping,’ and ‘Ishwar,’ which signifies God. The water drops cascade down on the ‘Shivalinga,’ creating a beautiful atmosphere of pure tranquillity. Shiva Linga, which is enshrined in the main complex, is believed to grant the wishes of all those who seek the Lord’s blessings.

ROBBER’S CAVE

Robbers Cave dehradun
Robbers Cave (Guchhu Pani), Dehradun

The best picnic spot is popularly known as ‘ Gucchu Pani’ amongst the localites. Its natural rock’s cave-like formation, from where a stream or river flows in, becomes a major site of attraction for the visitor. This narrow cave is about 600m long. Talking about the name ‘Robber”s Cave’, this place is believed to be the hideout of the famous Sultana Daku and his band of dacoits.

To draw major tourists to this spot, various eateries stalls have come along with the swimming pool. So, you can enjoy the mesmerizing sound of the ripples of the river along with munching your favourite snack.

SAHASTRADHARA

shastradhara dehradun
Shastradhara, Dehradun

This picnic spot is most popular for its natural sulfur water spring. Situated around 11 km away from the city of Dehradun, this place has captivated tourists with its natural beauty consisting of streams and waterfalls.

During the summer season, this spot remains flocked with thousands of tourists from across the country. Lately, this place has come up with many water slides as well to make your picnic even more enjoyable.

FOREST RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Forest-Research-Institute dehradun
Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun

This historical building depicts the great craftsmanship that went behind its architecture. The building stands as one of India’s most prestigious institutions which include Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, within its premises. FRI  has also emerged as a most visited site by tourists. It consists of various museums, which one must visit to acquaint oneself with the knowledge about the diverse flora and fauna. Because of its Architectural beauty, this place has appeared several times on the silver screen as well.

LAKHAMANDAL

Lakhamandal_Temple dehradun
Lakhamandal Temple

Home to various shrines, Dehradun has one of the major temples dedicated to Lord Shiva- Lakhamandal. Situated on the Mussoorie- Yamunotri road, this temple is nestled amidst the panoramic view of the glittering hills. The Graphite Lingam remains the major attraction of this temple. It is believed if a person visits this temple, his all misfortune comes to an end.

The temple is believed to be built in 12th – 13th century in NAGARA style of architecture. It is believed by locals of this place that the temple and its adjoining area are where the Mahabharata’s episode of conspiracy to burn the Bhaskar alive in the Lakshyagirha House was done by Duryodhan. There are twin statues in the door of the temple that is believed to be Arjun and Bhim, and some beliefs are that they are Jai and Vijay (Doorman of the Lord Vishnu). The town of Lakhamandal has located 113 km from Dehradun.

BUDDHA TEMPLE

Buddha Temple dehradun
Buddha Temple, Dehradun

Located in the Clement town region of Dehradun, This Buddhist monastery remains a site of major attraction for national as well as international tourists. One can find solace inside the main temple, where you have beautiful walls filled with paintings depicting the life of Budha and various stupas of Lord Buddha. The main stupa stands 103 ft tall and is the main site of attraction.

The temple comprises 5 floors and after reaching the topmost floor, one can clearly have a 360-degree view of this beautiful valley. Inside the premises, you can find restaurants, book stores, and shops.

SHIKHAR FALLS

The fall is one of the most famous picnic spots for teenagers and adults of Dehradun. Shikhar fall is the most preferred waterfall because of its beautiful location and well-connected roads. One needs to trek for 1 km to reach the waterfall. The place has been the ideal location for photography and bird and butterfly lovers. It is 13 km from the main city.

ASHOKA, ROCK EDDICT KALSI

While going from Dehradun to Kalsi, a small river meets the Yamuna river some distance before Kalsi, Amlava.  The 13th inscription in the fourteen inscriptions of the Maurya king Ashoka is situated at the confluence of the Amlava and Yamuna rivers. This place holds significant importance as in entire North India only Kalsi has an inscription of Emperor Ashoka. During the Mahabharata period, the ruler of Kalsi was King Virat and his capital was Biratnagar.  At the time of exile, Pandavas changed their form and stayed with King Virat.  The Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang identified this area as ‘Sudhnagar’ in the seventh century. It is believed that the destruction of the stupas of Kalsi took place in 1254 AD.  It was discovered by the British man Forrest in 1860 AD.

KHALANGA WAR MEMORIAL

It is a memorial dedicated to Gorkha soldiers who fought with the English in the battle of Nalapani. It is 26 km away from Dehradun city. The interesting fact is that this memorial was built by Britishers to applaud the valour of the Gorkhas in the battle of Kalapani, which took place in the year 1814. Located along the Sahastradhara road, this spot is easily accessible. This memorial surely ignites the spark of patriotism, once you visit here. Khalanga war memorial is the symbol of Gorkha’s bravery, which need to be preserved well for our future generation. This place is currently under the protection of ASI. You should definitely visit this spot if you happen to be in Dehradun.

DEHRADUN ZOO (MALSI DEER PARK)

For lovers of diverse flora and fauna, this place is a must-visit in Dehradun. Established in 1976, its former name was Malsi Deer Park. Serving to its name, this zoo was home to a number of deers, which you could witness roaming here and there. Gradually, this zoo became home to various other wildlife as well. In the year 2015, it went under massive renovation and was renamed as ‘ Dehradun Zoo’.  Lately, the zoo has also come up with its aquarium section. This section consists of diverse marine life, which is indeed a treat to watch. This zoo sprawls to the massive area providing you with a spacious location for swings, rope climbing, chit-chatting, and has options for the foodies as well. All this adds to the natural beauty of this location making it a perfect picnic spot. But make sure to keep the environment clean and Plastic Free.

LACHHIWALA

The ideal location for a perfect family picnic for Doonites. Lachhiwala is situated in a forest area filled with Sal trees. The place has man-made water pools which are filled with the river water of Suswa river and some fun rides for kids. You can find many bird species and is a perfect location for bird watchers. So, lets get on a journey and plan a trip to Lachhiwala. The location is around 20 km from ISBT. Visitors can enjoy the place for free as there are no entry charges to visit.

ASAN BARRAGE

Asan Barrage dehradun
Asan Barrage

As you travel towards the Dehradun-Himachal border, you’ll spot a beautiful barrage flocked with colourful migratory birds. This Barrage is known as the Asan barrage, formed at the confluence of the eastern Yamuna Canal and the Asan River. You can witness many birds which have been placed in the Red Data book and are under the category of The Globally Threatened species. Being home to the diverse species of birds, this barrage has now been declared as a Bird Sanctuary. Apart from bird watching, you can also enjoy various water sports activities organized by the GMVN. 

GURUDWARA NANAKSAR

This place of divine beauty is situated at Raipur Road of Dehradun city. Sprawled across an area of 2.5 acres, this gurudwara has emerged as one of the popular places among those seeking solace. Built-in the year 1973, under the patronage of Sant Baba Gurdev Singh Ji, this Gurudwara welcomes people from all walks of life. The clean and calm surrounding captivates the visitors to this place of spiritual significance. Katha and Kirtan are performed every evening. You can feel the positive aura, during your visit to this revered site.

MALDEVTA

Maldevta dehradun
Maldevta, Dehradun

Over the years, Maldevta has emerged as one of the popular tourist attractions in Dehradun. The calm green surrounding along with the rippling sound of the river provides a panoramic view to the visitors. A foot dip in the chilled water of the river, while you munch in your favourite snack, makes the perfect setting for your picnic. You can play games, cook food, spend time with your loved ones or do bird watching. After all these fun-filled activities, you can visit the temple nearby and get drowned in the serene beauty of this place. This spot becomes a hub of tourists during the summer season. 

RAJAJI NATIONAL PARK

Spread across the area of 820sqkm, this national park was formed in the year 1983, after the amalgamation of three sanctuaries of Uttarakhand- Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, i.e Shivalik, Rajaji National Park has emerged as a popular tourist destination for all those wildlife lovers. Mostly famous for the gigantic Asian Elephants, this national park is also home to more than 50 species of wildlife and more than 300 species of birds. Rajaji hosts rich biodiversity. In the year 2015, Rajaji National Park became India’s 48th Tiger Reserve. You can experience the bounties of nature during your visit. You can also opt for Nature walks, photography, Trekking, Bird watching along with wildlife sightings.

SANTLA DEVI

Santla Devi dehradun
Santla Devi, Dehradun

Situated just 10km away from the main city, this revered shrine is among the most visited pilgrimage sites in Dehradun. Dedicated to Goddess Santala, this temple is perched in the Santur mountains. A steep trek of about 2.5 km, which takes around 45 minutes is filled with mesmerizing views of the natural beauty. The trek may seem the tiring one, but once you reach the top, it’s all worth it. Noon river flowing beneath this temple adds to its natural beauty. Also, you can enjoy your picnic sideways to the river.

These are just a very few places from the myriad of this city of love- Dehradun.

PROS AND CONS OF LIVING IN DEHRADUN

If you plan to make Dehradun your permanent residential address, you must acquaint yourself with the pros and cons, before moving into this city.

PROS

  1. DEHRADUN is known to have pleasant climatic conditions throughout the year. In summer, people visit this city to escape from the harsh heat waves in their city. Talking about winters, as the evening grows closer, the temperature seems to the dropdown.
  2. DEHRADUN is a renowned educational hub. You can find India’s most reputed education institutions here. From ‘The Doon School’ to ‘Welhams’, the city is filled with prestigious schools.
  3. DEHRADUN is comparatively less polluted than other cities. Nestled in the valley, surrounded by lush green trees and Shivalik ranges, you can feel the fresh air.
  4. DEHRADUN has various spots apt for your vacations and weekends. From Mussorie to Sahastradhara, this city has innumerable picturesque spots.
  5. DEHRADUN is also known for its rich and diverse culture. With people moving in from different parts of the country, for their education, you can find a mix of culture here.
  6. DEHRADUN is one of the safest cities in the country. Be it any time of the day, the city has a very peaceful vibe.
  7. DEHRADUN offers a very moderate cost of living. You can expect a very comfortable life in this city, without spending a massive amount of bucks.

CONS

  1. Being a small city, Dehradun is still in its developing phase. A lot of work still needs to be done related to the infrastructure of this city.
  2. Intercity connectivity- There are fewer options available when it comes to public transportation for movement across the city.
  3. In recent years, this city has witnessed the migration of its native residents for career opportunities. Dehradun lags behind in job opportunities, as there are no such reputed MNCs across the city.
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