A visit to the Doon Valley
Who doesn’t know Dehradun? I am sure Dhoni’s wedding has made this place even more popular. Well, it was my first trip to one of the oldest cities of India, situated in the lap of the majestic Himalayas.
Dehradun, the capital of the state of Uttarakhand, is connected to all the major cities of north India by well-maintained roads. In fact, it is easy to reach here both by air as well as by rail. I think that’s one of the major reasons for its popularity among north Indian tourists.
I chose to travel by the fast-track train, Shatabdi Express. And the experience was mixed.
I was travelling via train after quite a long time. What made me upset was that there seemed to be nothing when it came to security at the New Delhi Railway Station. “How come there was no security check for baggage,” I was wondering while moving towards the platform. Haven’t we learnt after a spate of terror attacks, I murmured, thinking why the ‘security’ agencies were hell-bent on compromising the ‘safety’ of travellers?
And as expected, the platform was filthy enough to make me think I should have chosen another mode of transport to reach Dehradun. The train was on time.
Travelling in First Class AC was an experience, truly. The seats were comfortable enough and adjustable, just like the ones on Business Class of an airplane.
The services provided by Railways personnel are praiseworthy. As soon as the train begins its journey, the passengers are provided with a bottle of mineral water. After a few minutes, everyone is provided with a newspaper of one’s choice. Later, the passengers are given tea, cornflakes, a vegetarian/non-vegetarian breakfast, and then again tea. It was really quite a delight.
Also, one doesn’t need to worry about uncharged mobiles and laptop batteries, as power sockets are available.
It was almost a six-hour journey from Delhi to Dehradun, but trust me it was not tiring at all. I detrained at Dehradun station on time. Outside the station, I saw autowallahs trying to fleece passengers. I had my hotel booked in advance and asked an autowallah to drop me there. The hotel was on Tyagi Road, quite a well known place in Dehradun, and crowded too. And it’s just 5-7 minutes away from the railway station. The city has many hotels to provide accommodation to tourists.
The next day was for local sightseeing. It takes around 6-7 hours to see all the famous tourist spots in Dehradun. Don’t bother about hiring a taxi, even an auto will do. Be patient while hiring a taxi or an auto, as bargaining is quite usual here.
It is common for two people to sit on the driver’s seat in autos. When queried, the autowallah told me that in Dehradun, usually two drivers hire a single auto for a day and take driving turns. Cool! If one is tired or receives a phone call, another takes control of the auto.
There are various tourist attractions in and around Dehradun. My first destination was Sahastradhara, almost 16 kms away from Dehradun. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenic beauty while travelling to the medicinal sulphur springs. Here, I would like to give a piece of advice to those who are planning to travel to Dehradun in the near future. Try and stay at a place near to Sahastradhara because the area is much calmer than the hustle and bustle of Tyagi road, or may I say the major township of Dehradun.
Sahastradhara was beautiful, though I thought that government could do a lot more in keeping the place cleaner. It is believed that the sulphur springs can cure certain skin diseases. The greenery and the astounding beauty of the waterfalls make it quite a good picnic spot. One can also enjoy the ropeway service available there.
My next destination was Guchhupani, which is also known as Robbers' Cave. It is situated in Anarwala, approximately 8 kms away from Dehradun. This was the place I liked the most in Dehradun.
This tranquil and peaceful river cave formation is surrounded by picturesque hills. Though I tried a lot to know more about the place, there was no one to inform me about the history of the cave. The place is quite favoured by couples too.
Then I headed on to Tapkeshwar Temple, the temple of Lord Shiva. Situated on the banks of a stream in Garhi Cant, the temple offers a magnificent view of the valley. This temple is said to be one of the busiest pilgrim centres in the hilly resort.
I then went to Sai Darbar temple, which is quite a famous pilgrimage centre on Rajpur Road in the hill resort. The temple provides a serene ambience to the devotees.
One can also see Indian Military Academy and the famous Doon School. Dehradun’s renowned academic institutions have received worldwide accolades.
An unknown fact about Dehradun is that it is emerging as a world-renowned sword market.
Swords manufactured here are exported to the European countries and the US. You can also buy khukris here, as a souvenir.
One thing that I realised was that Dehradun was not well groomed for tourism. Though there is a lot of potential, but it is not tapped by the government. I think that is the reason why many find Dehradun as just another stopover en route to Mussoorie.
Overall, Dehradun is a good option to spend weekends.