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I was kind of little reluctant about my trip to Dehradun, one of the wettest places in India, as I had just over 24 hrs at hand. What could I have accomplished in one day, trying to travel to the beautiful land of the Gharwalis on the foothills of the Himalayas? But being a travel addict, I had to give into my passion. So my travel partner Parmita and I booked the tickets from Bangalore and reached the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun on September 21, 2013.
Dehradun, also referred as the ‘Rainy City of India’, lies on the foothills of the Himalayas. It is the capital city of the state of Uttarakhand initially developed as an alternative centre of growth to help ease the migration and population explosion in the Delhi metropolitan area.
Though we went to Mussoorie before, we had little clue about Dehradun. And as this was more of an unplanned back-packing kind of visit, we did not even book the hotel in advance. So, after reaching the city, we looked around and checked into a neat hotel – Hotel Doon Castle. The hotel was clean and what we found out was that, the ‘Queen rooms’ are far better than the ‘King rooms’. Clean toilet, decent food and less charges – 3 things a traveler looks for before choosing a hotel. Doon Castle did provide us with all of those.
Though we would have loved to relax a bit more in the hotel, we thought it would be best to go out and explore the place. So we booked a cab and got acquainted with our driver Kesori. We told him about few places we would like to visit and told him that we had less than 12 hrs to complete the list.
Malsi Deer Park – almost 10 kilometers from Dehradun, it is a place where one will find more monkeys hanging out in the open than deers. But with the pristine greenery, it is a peaceful place if you want to listen to the birds chirping. There is a small pond at the end of the deer park. The park is a good place after a long days work. Oh, and definitely the fun-shouts of children as there is a children’s park too.
Robber’s Cave – also known as Guchhupani is definitely a tourist spot!! It is believed that robbers used this place as the shelter to conceal themselves from the British. Hence the name Robber’s Cave. First thing I understood was, refrain from visiting the place on weekends. Too many people and rummies around. The place is without any security guards when we arrived and some aggressive noisy troublemakers tried to make the place intolerable for children and females. We did spend few moments as we found some quiet spots. About 8 kms from the center of Dehradun, the cave is little more than half kilometer long. It is a natural cave formation.
Sahastradhara Waterfall – not very far from Malsi Deer Park (about 14 kms from Dehradun) is another place filled with monkeys who like to snatch from people anything that is visible to them. It is a sulfur water spring and and according to locals has striking medicinal value. One can take a ride in the rope-way to reach the hill-top. There is a park at the top and must say, it was a great view of the hills and the valley.
Khalanga-Nalapani War Memorial – I heard about this place in Bangalore. Though there is another place called ‘The Kalinga War Memorial’ which is more famous, I wanted to visit the Khalanga-Nalapani War Memorial, which I heard was not much visited by tourists. I asked locals about the spot but very few had knowledge about the place. We took the road through the hills which we thought would lead us to the place. It took almost 45 mins for us to get to the memorial. But must say, it was worth it. A small road through the forests and on top of the hill stands the Khalanga-Nalapani War Memorial. The memorial was raised to recognize the courage of a Gorkha cavalry from the battle of 1814. We met a group of ex-army veterans who maintain the site.
Central Brille Press – Situated in one of the pristine parts of Dehradun known as the Rajpur Road, the Central Braille Press is the first press of its kind in India and one of the oldest braille presses in Asia. It was set up in Dehradun, Uttarakhand in 1951 after independence by the Government of India, Ministry of Welfare to make braille literature available to the blind. Thanks to people like Ram Dular and Amit Ranjan who helped us in exploring the century old machines and the British made building.
Momos, Tibbetan Market and Malls – apart from visiting the tourist sites we also checked out the crowded streets of Dehradun city, Tibbetan market and nearby areas. The Dehradun market is a good shopping zone for people who like to buy things for fun or don’t want to spend too much money. Momos are quite popular as there are various small stalls where one can taste vegetarian to beef momos. There are few malls too if one gets home-sick.
Monkeys in Dehradun – first thing we noticed was primates when we landed in Dehradun. They were everywhere – on the streets, at homes, near the water streams, in the jungles around and even in the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun.
Overall, it took almost 10 hrs to see all the places in my list and we definitely enjoyed our 24 hrs stay in Dehradun. This trip also gave me an insight that – if you have just one free day in your hand, don’t waste it in front of the television; go out and explore a new place. It is possible!