The complete guide to Dehradun

Located in the Garhwal region of the Himalayan foothills at around 700m, Dehradun lies at the centre of the 120km-long Doon Valley, hemmed in by the Yamuna to the west and the Ganga at Rishikesh to the east. The town was established in 1676 after Guru Ram Rai, the eldest son of the seventh Sikh Guru Har Rai, set up a dera (camp) here in the doon (valley). It was later occupied by Mughals, Gurkhas and the British. After leading a quiet life as a popular retirement spot and a seat for renowned institutions like the Doon School and the Indian Military Academy, it was made the capital of Uttarakhand in 2000, adding bustle to its charming mountain life. The average annual temperature of Dehradun is 21.8 degrees Celsius.


What to See and Do in Dehradun

A good place to start is where it all began—Sri Guru Ram Rai Darbar Sahib, the 17th-century gurudwara of Guru Ram Rai. The gateway, walls, ceilings and chhatries (cenotaphs) are suffused with exquisite 200-year-old Mughal style murals painted in bright vegetable dyes. At the centre of the city is the six-faced Ghantaghar. Northwest on Chakrata Road is the Forest Research Institute, an impressive red-brick colonial structure built in the 1920s. Set on a sprawling campus, it is devoted to the preservation of India’s threatened woodlands. The FRI Museum is divided into six sections though the highlight is the slice of a 704-year-old deodar tree that marks global events across seven centuries! A Dehradun map will help you discover all the tourist attractions with convenience.

Dehradun tourism has plenty of spectacular sights for tourists. At Anarwala, 6km from town, is the legendary Robber’s Cave, known locally as Guchhupani. Tons river, a tributary of the Yamuna, flows through narrow limestone caverns carving a natural rock formation that was once a hiding place for bandits. [Tip: slippers are given on hire to wade through ankle-deep water along the 600m-long canyon to a small waterfall.] Simple eateries arrange tables and chairs in the stream where guests enjoy Maggi or bread-omelette while cooling their heels. Among other popular places to visit in Dehradun is Sahastradhara (literally ‘a thousand-fold stream’), a series of cascades and sulphur springs.

Tourists also throng Tapkeshwar Temple, said to be the place of penance of Guru Dronacharya, where water drips on a Shiva linga inside a cave. If you have an interest in wildlife, don’t miss the Dehradun Zoo and Malsi Deer Park. Mindrolling Monastery has a Tibetan Buddhist temple with some nice murals.


Where to Eat

Restaurants in Dehradun offer a variety of cuisines to the tourists:

  • Black Pepper, Rajpur Road

    A cool, grotto-style restaurant with a bar upstairs, it is popular with families and youngsters alike. Good Indian, Chinese and Continental meals and a new south Indian section on the menu are what you’ll find on offer.
  • Kumar Sweet Shop, MDDA Complex

    Established in 1957, this sweet shop is popular with the locals for a reason: the rasmalai, kulfi, carrot halwa and mewa bite are beyond par.
  • Moti Mahal, Rajpur Road

    This sleek restaurant inside the eponymous hotel serves excellent north Indian and Chinese dishes. Try the chicken kadhai, butter chicken and chicken tikka masala.
  • Tirupati, Chukkuwala

    A clean, friendly restaurant serving chowmein, cheese pizza, besides north and South Indian thalis—dosa, idli, vada and kheer (rice pudding).

Places to Party

Most bars in Dehradun are located in hotels and malls where you can grab a drink and the odd live gig. Head over Heels in Hotel Madhuban is perhaps the best bar in town. MJ Cheers in Hotel MJ Residency, Retro Pub at The Solitaire and The Terrace at Four Points by Sheraton are also good hangouts. If you want to chill in a lounge-like atmosphere, try Sheesha Lounge and Restaurant, QB Lounge or The Tavern at Crossroads Mall. Vibezz in Jakhan is a music-themed bar lounge with rock shows every month and a DJ with dance floor.

Where to Stay

Most of themid-range hotels in Dehradun are strung along Rajpur Road as it heads north towards Mussoorie. Hotel Ashrey, Tyagi Road: In a quiet, but central spot, just a three-minute walk south of Prince Chowk; the private lawn in front leads to well-furnished new rooms with flat screen TVs, of which some have air conditioning. This is also one of the hotels situated close to the Dehradun railway station.

  • Hotel President, Astley Hall

    Luxury boutique hotel that is contemporary and classy, with a choice of fine dining restaurants—Salt & Cravings stirs up Lebanese, Mexican and Italian while Prez and The Pavilion offer Indian, Chinese, Continental and tandoori options. Also on offer is complimentary all-day tea and ironing between 8-10am.
  • White House Hotel, Subhash Road

    An atmospheric, old art deco, Raj-era residence near Astley Hall with huge verandas, lofty ceilings, sturdy furniture and a friendly owner. This peaceful retreat with a lovely lawn, lies in the heart of Dehradun, yet is an oasis of calm. The cosy Y Café and Restaurant with vintage furniture, a fireplace and books serves excellent pizzas, pastas and sandwiches.
  • Vishranti Resorts, Pachwadoon

    If you don’t mind staying away from the buzz, check out this luxurious Doon Valley jungle retreat, set amidst 23 acres of plush plantation. Plan to spend some time at the farm where all their organic produce is grown. The cottages are designed like colonial countryside bungalows with sloping roofs, wide verandas and period furniture and decor.

What to buy in Dehradun

Paltan Bazaar, located in the heart of Dehradun near the clock tower is the main shopping hub. Many shops are centered along the busy Rajpur Road, Astley Hall and the Tibetan Market opposite the parade ground. Pacific Mall on Rajpur Road and Times Square Mall on Sahastradhara Road are the larger shopping complexes in town. Natraj The Green Book Shop on Rajpur Road is a popular bookstore were one can pick up books on the region besides personally autographed titles by author Ruskin Bond, who resides in nearby Landour. For hand-made shawls, scarves and stoles using fibres and natural dyes like henna, pomegranate and indigo, head to Himalayan Weavers. Drop by at Purkal, a self-help group selling patchwork quilts and cushion covers made by local women. Dehradun is also famous for its basmati rice and you can pick up a 5kg gift pack to carry home.

6E & Cheeky

The Doon Ice Rink at Maharana Pratap Sports Complex is the first full-sized ice arena in India and a good place to try your hand (or leg) at ice skating. Pop by at some of the sweet shops in Dehradun like Kumar Stores and Bengali Sweet Shop on Neshvilla Road to satisfy your sweet craving; try the Uttarakhand special baal mithai—caramel cubes covered with white round sugar balls. Stop by at local eateries like Tara Machhi Wala for fish pakodas, Chetan Pooriwala for their poori thalis or Sethi’s Food Corner’s katlambas (big crispy paratha served with chhole and salad) near Paltan Bazaar Kotwali. Another popular local tradition is to drive down to Rajpur for some hot pakoras, samosas and ginger tea at Sardarji’s Pakora Shop, a hole-in-the-wall eatery near the check-post. Continue on the ghat roads to Mussoorie, a popular hill station near Dehradun, for momos and noodles at the numerous ‘Maggi Points’ found on the curves. You can also choose to extend your trip by taking abode in one of the Mussoorie hotels.

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