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). Mughals, Gurkhas and the British later occupied it. After leading a quiet life as a favourite 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 a bustle to its charming mountain life.
Best time to visit: The average annual temperature of Dehradun is 21.8 degrees Celsius. March to June is the ideal time to visit Dehradun.
How to reach
By Air: Jolly Grant Airport is Dehradun’s main airport, about 20km away from the city center. IndiGo operates non-stop daily flights between Dehradun and Delhi, Bengaluru and Lucknow.
By Train: Dehradun is well-connected to all parts of the country with several trains like Shatabdi Express, Doon Express, Dehradun AC Express etc.
By Bus: Dehradun has a vast network of Volvo, Deluxe, Semi-deluxe and Uttarakhand State Transport buses, connecting it with all major cities of the country.
Getting around: Dehradun has a network of private buses to travel around the city, but they are usually full of crowd. So, you can use other modes of transportation including auto-rickshaws and shared auto-rickshaws, locally known as ‘Vikram’.
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.
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.
This sleek restaurant inside the eponymous hotel serves excellent north Indian and Chinese dishes. Try the chicken kadhai, butter chicken and chicken tikka masala.
A clean, friendly restaurant serving chowmein, cheese pizza, besides North and South Indian thalis—dosa, idli, vada and kheer (rice pudding).
Local bazaars: Paltan Bazaar, located in the heart of Dehradun near the clock tower is the central shopping hub. You can find many shops along the busy Rajpura Road, Astley Hall and the Tibetan Market opposite the parade ground.
Malls in Dehradun: Pacific Mall on Rajpura Road and Times Square Mall on Sahastradhara Road are the larger shopping complexes in town.
Natraj The Green Book Shop: Situated on Rajpura Road, this is a famous bookstore where one can pick up books on the region besides personally autographed titles by author Ruskin Bond, who resides in nearby Landour.
Purkal: 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.
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 a dance floor.
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 serve excellent pizzas, kinds of pasta 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 lush plantation. The cottages look like colonial countryside bungalows with sloping roofs, wide verandas and period furniture and decor.
Sahastradhara: Among other favourite places to visit in Dehradun is Sahastradhara (literally ‘a thousand-fold stream’), a series of cascades and sulphur springs.
Wildlife parks: If you have an interest in wildlife, don’t miss the Dehradun Zoo and Malsi Deer Park.
Tapkeshwar Temple: 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.
Ghantaghar: At the centre of the city is the six-faced Ghantaghar. A famous landmark in the town standing much before the Independence, it is encircled by various commercial centres like GPO and shops.
Mussourie: A popular destination among honeymooners, it’s a perfect romantic gateway from Dehradun. This beautiful valley mesmerises everyone with its serenity while creating unforgettable memories. If you love adventure, the you can go for trekking as well.
Haridwar: An essential site for Hindu pilgrimage, Haridwar is easily accessible from Dehradun. The place has ample tourist spots like Ganga Arti, Har ki Pauri Ghar, Mansa Devi temple among others that attracts numerous tourist all-round the year.
Rishikesh: A popular site for river rafting, situated close to Dehradun is among the ideal gate away from the city.
Dhanaulti: This beautiful, silent and picturesque place is an ideal destination for a short escape from Dehradun.
How about a jungle safari that too on a hill station? Unique right! So, if you want to do something different from the regular sightseeing, head to Rajaji National Park nestled in the lap of the Himalayas and Shivaliks. This national park is especially famous for the Asian Elephant Reserve that you can explore by jeep safaris. There are two times for safaris - one in the morning and the other in the evening. While on safari, you can even spot Wild Boar, Leopard, Tiger, Barking deer, Goral two kinds of Bears Himalayan Black and Sloth along with more than 400 species of birds. It's a one-of-its-kind experience that will make your Dehradun trip different and memorable while letting you explore the brilliance of nature.