Dehradun – the name is enough to conjure up a vision of green hills and swift rivers. That vision, for anyone who has visited the Doon valley, as it is affectionately called, is a very accurate description, though a trifle limited. But ask someone who has lived in this valley and they will tell you what it means to them.
Geographically, the Doon Valley lies between two great river systems - Ganga and Yamuna. This cup-shaped valley is flanked by the Himalayas in the north-east, the Shivalik mountain range in the south-west, river Ganga in south-east and river Yamuna in north-west and is situated at a height of 1500 to 2500 feet above sea level.
Is it any surprise then that it is so popular for its natural beauty?
Dehradun is the temporary capital of the newly formed state of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand was -carved out of the existing state of Uttar Pradesh and became a separate state of India on the 9th of November 2000.
The district is named after its chief city Dehradun, which is the distorted form of 'Dera'. Writing in Dehra Dun Gazetteer, Walton observes that during the reign of Aurangzeb, Guru Ram Rai of the Udasi Sikhs, was banished by the Emperor. He then pitched his tents in the Khurbura locality of modern day Dehradun and built a temple near Dhamawala. Around these two sites grew the town popularly known as Dehra.
The term ‘Doon’ on the other hand means a valley, and since the city itself lies in a valley, the term Doon justifies in being the suffix of Dehra.
Dehradun today is a favourite tourist destination and each year it attracts visitors - pilgrims and enthusiasts - from different walks of life. Since, the city itself experiences temperate climate, it is a great place to plan a holiday with pretty places to visit and a choice of excursions to carry out.
Some of the places in Dehradun that are extremely popular amongst the visitors are Tapkeshawar Temple, Malsi Deer Park, Chandrabani, Sahastradhara, Santaura Devi Temple, Tapovan, Robber’s Cave, Rajaji National Park etc.
Dehradun is home to several important government organisations as well, some of the prominent ones are Forest Research Institute, Survey of India, Indian Institute of Petroleum, ONGC and premier educational and training institutes like IMA (Indian Military Academy), RIMC (Rashtriya Indian Military College), IGNFA (Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy). It must be noted that Dehradun is one of the most literate districts of the country.
The city has many beautiful rest houses and hotels that provide comfortable and economical accommodation to visitors. Home to some of the most well known educational institutions, it has, for many years now maintained its tradition of providing top class education.
In Dehradun, grows some of the most delicious fruits and crops. One of these is the fruit, "Litchi". Litchi plantations were prevalent in Dehradun even before 1890. Although, the popularity of Litchi did not take off immediately, it started peeking up by 1940 when every orchard consisted of at least a dozen Litchi trees.
By 1970 Dehradun had become a leading Litchi cultivator with about 6,500 hectares of land in Vikas Nagar, Naryanpur, Vasant Vihar, Raipur, Kalugarh, Rajpur Road and Dalanwala areas of Dehradun dedicated to the cultivation of the delectable fruit.
Today, however, there is a sharp decline in Litchi cultivation with just about 3070 hectare of land under Litchi cultivation.
"Basmati Rice" is another Dehradun speciality. Transplanted and cultivated in small terraced and irrigated beds called ‘kyaris’, it is easily recognised by its fragrance. Needless to say, it is immensely popular all over India and exported abroad. Basmati rice is not an indigenous product of the Doon valley. The seed of the rice was first brought to the place in the year 1840 by his highness Amir Dost Mohammed Khan, the ruler of Afghanistan, who abdicated the throne of Afghanistan and spent 3 years in Mussoorie.
Very soon Basmati became the main Kharif crop of local farmers and its fragrance and taste made it extremely popular amongst people. Today, it can safely be said that the popularity of Basmati is not confined to Dehradun or India but has spread to far off countries as well.
In the past, good quality Tea was also grown at several places in Dehradun and is known to have been quite popular as well. However, today, there are only a few tea plantations left in Dehradun and the produce is sold locally.