I grew up reading a lot of stories by Ruskin Bond, and a lot of them happen in the mystic greens of Dehradun. So when I had an opportunity for a getaway in the northern part of India, Ruskin's Dehra was the first place on my list. My husband, having recently purchased a DSLR joined me to capture the scenic beauty which still exists there.
There was hardly any time to drive all the way to Mussoorie and meet Ruskin Bond in person during this visit (I met him a year back and was stupid enough not to do an interview), but in Dehradun all his stories came to life. There isn't much to do in this small residential town, except for hog and walk around; but once you've reached the outskirts there's plenty of sight seeing to be done - and I am not even talking about the pilgrimage of Hrishikesh or the hills of Mussoorie. Just a few miles outside the city and you'll be mesmerized by the lush greens of all the driveways.
My quickie of a getaway allowed me to visit only a few chosen places like Central Braille Press, Malsi Deer Park, Robber's Cave, Sahashradhara Waterfall, Khalanga-Nalapani War Memorial and Tibbetan Market. A true traveler never has a definite plan so all the sight seeing was impromptu and done after seeking advise from random locals. That's what led to the discovery of the Khalanga War Memorial, a monument raised by the British to recognize the courage of a Gorkha cavalry from the battle of 1814. While the monument itself is not a grand one, the gesture means a lot to the Gorkha community. I met the group of ex-army veterans who voluntarily maintain the site and spoke at length about the monument. They insisted I stay for a picnic lunch, but I had to settle for a cup of tea, thanks to my tight schedule.
We did the regular touristy stuff like visiting the Malsi Deer Park, Robber's Cave, Sahashradhara Waterfall (and a park attached to it); honest opinion - DO NOT visit Robber's Cave on weekends, unless you want to get into a brawl with drunk hoodlums. The night life is Dehradoon is close to zero, so I stayed indoors and ordered room service.
Playing tourist has never been my favorite activity, so I headed to the Central Braille Press. Situated in the heart of Dehradun, the Central Braille Press is India's first braille press and one of the oldest braille presses in Asia. It was set up in 1951 by the Government of India, Ministry of Welfare. The staff was amazing and demonstrated every piece of hardware to me while taking me through the complete printing and binding process. I was moved and motivated simultaneously during my interactions with the visually impaired people trying to lead a daily life.
Thanks to awesome people Dehradun for making my trip a splendid one! Thanks to Hotel Doon Castle for their hospitality, it's a nice place to stay.