Dehradun has gained recognition only since it became the capital of the new state of Uttarakhand in the year 2000. Before this, Dehradun’s tourist locations and places of interest were something of a well kept secret, and the few who knew of the city simply related it to greenery, mountains and lone writers.
However, Dehradun happens to be the home to many places of historic, social and cultural significance.
1. Mindrolling Monastery
During the mass exodus of the Tibetan people from their homeland to India, many settled in the city of Dehradun. Thus, it was found to be appropriate to relocate the Mindrolling Monastery to Clement Town, on the outskirts of Dehradun in 1965, after the original one suffered heavy damage.
Mindrolling (Tibetan for Place of Perfect Emancipation) Monastery is the highest Stupa in the world and also a major pilgrimage point for Buddhists everywhere. Standing at 185 feet tall with a 103 feet tall gold statue of the Buddha, this monastery is a sight to behold. This monastery prides itself in the Buddhist institute, Ngagyur Nyingma College, which is present within its premises.
2. Forest Research Institute
Founded in 1906, the Forest Research Institute has since gained fame for its contribution to wildlife studies in the entire Indian subcontinent. It also contains the prestigious Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy as well as a museum, which has become a major tourist attraction for wildlife enthusiasts across the world. This vast museum features a host of interesting artefacts, segregated into a Pathology Museum, a Social Forestry Museum, a Silviculture Museum, a Timber Museum, a Non-Wood Forest Products Museum and an Entomology Museum.
3. Malsi Deer Park
A wildlife reserve and zoo, Malsi Deer Park is set within the beautiful mountainside of Dehradun. Various species of birds and animals can be seen here such as leopards, tigers, peacocks, and of course large numbers of deer. Many speak of the charm of the area itself, where one can sit in the canteen amidst nature and enjoy their snacks, while children play in the park provided with swings and other facilities.
4. Robbers’ Cave
Also known as Gucchupani, this 600 metre long is located a short trek away from Dehradun. It is unique in its natural features, that is, the river that flows through it, cutting the cave into two and forming various waterfalls along the way. There is also a small fort wall structure towards the centre which is now unfortunately broken.
Tapovan literally translates to Forest of Tranquillity, and is a place for anyone looking for spiritual experiences to meditate and muse, and thus reach their spiritual destination. Tapovan in Dehradun is located at the base of the mountains and is surrounded by peace and natural beauty on all sides, with flowers, meadows and streams. Along with spiritual practitioners, trekkers are also known to collect here and rest as this is one of the base camps for the famous Gangotri trek.
6. Shikhar Falls
A long and exhilarating trek away from the main city, through the mountains takes us to Shikhar Falls. These falls are still only known to a few and have therefore maintained their natural beauty. Fresh, fast-flowing water and the cool weather of Dehradun together make for a wonderful picnic here with family and friends.
7. Cafe Marigold
Started in the year 2012, Cafe Marigold is often credited with bringing focus back to the mountainous area of Rajpur, rather than the centre of the city. Set away from hustle and bustle of the main road, in a charming building with an old-world feel to it, this cafe serves some of the best coffee, sandwiches and snacks in the city. With charming lights, classical music and many books and games to occupy you with, this cafe has become the favourite evening retreat to many locals as well as visitors.
With flowing water in the mineral-rich soil taking breathtaking formations like stalactites, stalagmites, caves and waterfalls, along with quaint steppe farming by the locals, Sahastradhara has appropriately been named the Fold of a Thousand Springs. A ropeway through Sahastradhara takes one to the famous Tapkeshawar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, where water from the cave of the roof constantly drips onto the Shivalinga below. Legend has it that Dronacharya himself had meditated in this temple-cave, thus giving the area vast mythological and religious significance.
9. Paltan Bazaar
The main market of Dehradun, Paltan Bazaar starts at the famous Clock Tower, which is often known as the symbol of Dehradun. This bazaar is a bustling area of tall buildings, street shops and narrow lanes, which are in fact difficult to manoeuvre a car through.
Paltan Bazaar is perhaps most famous as the setting for many of the renowned writer Ruskin Bonds books. He captures the essence of the vibrant beauty of the market and the city itself like nothing else does
Dehradun is a small and quiet town with a lot of stories to tell. Even as it develops into a city, it is still the perfect retreat from the fast paced cosmopolitan life.