For most reverent outsiders, the epithet &lsquocity of grey hairs and green hedges&rsquo for one of their favourite holiday destinations, Dehradun, never gets old. But there are reasons other than the city being a retirement haven for this time-tested love and fidelity. Over the last several decades, legends, myths and folklore spun around the city have seeped into the imagination of hill-bound travellers, thereby maintaining a perennial tourist blitz in the valley. The richness and nostalgia are captured in personal experiences, stories and vignettes &ndash the old-style education, delectable caramel stick jaws and the oft-told and written about &lsquoDoon boyhood&rsquo accounts that it has inspired, to name a few. And then there is the ubiquitous narrative about life in the valley by Ruskin Bond, whose Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories and The Room on the Roof, which has, along with other literature, painted a Blyton-esque picture of enchantment and magical adventures in this part of the world for decades.
Most of the prominent landmarks in Dehradun date back to the early 1900s. One that has managed to endure both in concrete and in spirit, is the Clock Tower. Built to commemorate India&rsquos independence, it sits in the middle of the city, a tall, red-bricked hexagonal structure with six faces, with the names of freedom fighters engraved on it.
Forest Research Institute
A drive up the Chakrata Road will lead you to two other major institutions Dehradun is proud of &ndash the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and the Forest Research Institute (FRI). The FRI, established in 1906, is an impressive building with Greco-Roman architecture. The expansive campus comprises quarters, offices, classrooms, laboratories, a library, a herbarium and printing press, experimental field areas to conduct forest research as well as six museums, and is a sight in itself. While the main building overlooks a vast expanse of gardens, its hindquarters has views of huge acres of lush green forest. Inside, the red-bricked structure opens up to labyrinthine corridors. You may visit the museums dealing with pathology, social forestry, timber, nonwood forest products and entomology.
Khalinga War Memorial
Touted as a one-of-its-kind commemorative monument that was built in honour of the opposing army, the Khalinga War Memorial covers a small area on Sahastradhara Road. Even though there is not much to it except two conical white structures and an adjoining park, the extraordinary story attached makes it worth a visit. It goes back to the Battle of Nalapani, which was fought between 600 Gorkhas and around 3,000 British soldiers in Kalinga Fort near Nalapani in 1814. The Gorkhas are known for having resisted the attack with great force and conviction. In fact, the British entered the Kalinga Fort only after the Gorkhas evacuated it.
One of the major contributions of Dehradun&rsquos thriving Tibetan community is the Og Min Ogyen Mindrolling Monastery, located in Clement Town, which boasts a height of 185 ft and is 100 sq ft in width. Apart from the gargantuan stupa, considered one of the largest in the world at 60 m, the monastery also features some of the most intricate Tibetan Buddhist murals in the main shrine room, which also houses a 35-m high golden statue of Buddha. Explore the main building or stroll around the lawns. Within the campus is also a small complex wherein you can grab a bite of some Tibetan cuisine, or pick up a souvenir.