Dehradoon or Popularly called Doon is located in the Doon valley on the foothills of the Himalayas. The city hosts many important training institute like Indian Military Academy, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Forest Research Institute and others. Doon is also the home to many prestigious schools like Doon School, Welham School for Girls, Welham School for Boys and others.
Dehradoon is popular because of the picturesque view, sacred temples and the hot spring. It is also the gateway to the popular hill station Mussoorie.
With the formation of the State of Uttarakhand (formally known as Uttaranchal), Dehradoon became a capital city, thus attracting many industries. Hence now the city it is more crowded that it was when it was just a hill station.
We stayed in Dehradoon for two nights and three days. Many places being closed due to road maintenance and hence this time frame was ok. However during the season period, staying for 2nights in Dehradoon and 2nights in Mussoorie may make more sense.
We (my travel companions were my parents) hired a cab for two days. On the 1st day we visited Mussoorie and on the 2nd we visited the places around Dehradoon. The total cost was INR 3500/- (with the cab driver dropping us at the railway station on the last night). We checked with many vendors and this seemed to be the most inexpensive.
The drive to the ‘Queens of the Hills’, Mussoorie has an amazing view of the Valley and the ice capped mountains of the Garhwal Range of the Himalayas.
There are many tourist places and adventure parks in Mussoorie, however we visited only a few of the spots.
- The Mussoorie Lake: A nice place to hang around for the locals. There are some adventure sports that one can enjoy and also a spot dedicated for the selfie lovers – meant to make a FB profile pic.
- Kempty Falls: Unfortunately most falls has been commercialized to the extent that nature lovers will find the surrounding unsettling. Only good point for people who cannot walk down the stairs is the cable car facility. It being not a season time, there were less people (comparatively); I still felt it was crowded. There are many shops and restaurants on both the sides of the steps. The government has constructed a swimming pool which gets water from the fall. Over all it was an ok sight.
During the drive we saw some wild flowers that I had not seen earlier.
On the 2nd Day we visited Robbers cave, locally known as Gucchu Pani is river cave formation. It consist of a narrow gorge with the river flowing through it. At the end of the cave there is a beautiful and small waterfall. One needs to walk in the river water on the stony bed to reach the waterfall at the end. Since it was the winters the water was cold but not freezing so walking through it was not much of an issue. My mom couldn’t make it but my Dad was quite excited.
The whole experience was amazing though many of our acquaintance told us not to visit as this being a picnic spot and most Indians (unfortunately) not being a responsible tourist leave their garbage behind (including broken glass bottles). While that may had been true, we did not find any such thing; apparently the management who charge an entry fee are doing a good job. They said that they do not get much help from the government in keeping the place clean.
After Robbers cave we visited the following places:
- Tapkeshawar temple: one of the oldest Shiva temple in Uttarakhand and is like a must visit for all Hindus. The visitors needs to leave their shoes close to the entrance, before walking down the many steps. Since we visited during the winters, it was a bit hard to walk down the cold stone steps. The shivalinga is inside a natural cave where water drops trickles down on the linga from the ceiling continuously. Due to this the linga has eroded.
- Sahastradhara: literally means thousand fold springs. The water drips from the limestone stalactites in the nearby caves and its waterfalls. The water is said to have medicinal qualities. One can find different size of containers being sold to collect and carry the water home/hotel to take a quick bath. Many people were taking a dip in the water there itself and there were changing rooms available.
- Forest Research Institute: I never thought but I was indeed eager to visit this place because my grandfather graduated from this institute. FRI attracts not only the students but tourists as well because of its huge campus and the various trees. They have different museums dedicated to different topics related to forest. It is absolutely worth a visit.
- Mindrolling Monastery: For some reason monasteries are one of the place I love visiting. The monastery is beautiful and tranquil. Mindrolling monastery was built in 1965 in Japanese style of architecture. It houses the Ngagyur Nyingma College which is one of the largest Buddhist learning centers in India.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many other places to visit around Dehradoon and Mussoorie. Tripadvisor has detailed information on most of these places.
Next stop Bir Billing – the best place in India for paragliding