When we got a chance to visit Dehradun, the new capital city of Uttrakhand, the only thought that came to our minds was, “why the plains?” Obviously, any chic city-dweller would like to go to another locale for a vacation. As the mercury set new records every other day in Delhi, any hill station would have been great. However, the impending trip gave us a chance to find out more about the city, which eventually led us to fall in love with Dehradun.

Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Dehradun is made up of two words, Dehra derived from “dera” which means home and “doon” which means valley. Its prime location made this city a mandatory stopover, if one is travelling to any of the other well-known hill stations. It is a lush green paradise and houses landmarks like the Military Academy, the Wildlife Institute of India, and the Doon School. Of course, the place must possess something special, if it led eminent people like Ruskin Bond, David Cling, and Nayantra Sahgal to make it their home.

The best way to travel from Delhi to this historical city is by train. There is an airport also, but it is a little far from the city. Moreover, Shatabadi Express, which runs in the early morning from Delhi, will give you a glimpse of places like Meerut, Roorkee and Haridwar.

It was around one o’clock in the afternoon when we entered Dehradun and its vast history began to flash through my mind. One of the oldest cities in India, it was founded by Guru Ram Rai. Therefore it is called “Dera,” a camp or settlement in the Doon valley. The city was mentioned in the epics, such as the Ramayana, in which Rama and Lakshmana had come here to live out their penance.

While in the Mahabharata, it was an abode of Drona, the mighty Guru of the Kaurvas and Pandavas. Interestingly, very few people know that Dehradun was under the rule of Nepal for a brief period, until the British took over. After Independence, Dehradun, along with many parts of Garhwal and the Kumaon region were made part of the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh). In the year 2000, a new state called Uttarakhand was formed and Dehradun became its capital.

On reaching the city, the first task was to search for a good place to stay as we wanted to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Our search ended with Regenta LP Vilas, located in the lush green Dehradun valley. The hotel is 12 km away from the railway station and is managed by the Royal Orchid Hotels. On our way there, we crossed the city’s landmarks, such as the Forest Research Institute and the Indian Military Academy.

Both are surrounded by beautiful greenery and look very imperial and statuesque. They are worth a visit in order to appreciate the marvellous architecture. From the outside, the hotel doesn’t look very impressive as it seems to be like any simple four-storey building. However, once inside, there is much to explore from its regal and charming all-day restaurant Zaffran to its patisserie Coco to Amara wellness, which is a medley of a selective spa, salon, and lifestyle services. One can also shop from the hotel’s exclusive boutique for their in-house skin care brands, handicrafts, jewellery, and stone-inlay crafts.

On leaving the hotel, it was our turn to explore the city. Tourist attractions include Robber’s Cave, which is also known as Guchhupani, which offers scenic beauty and a stream and is a popular picnic spot among locals. There is also the Tapkeshwar Temple, a cave temple located seven km from the city. The Kalinga War Memorial, another must-see was built by the British to commemorate Gurkha soldiers. Malsi Deer Park, at a distance from Dehradun on the way to Mussoorie, is also popular among tourists. It is home to the rare two-horned deer.

One must spend some time in Mussoorie located just 40 km away after visiting Dehradun. We started our day early and by the time we reached the hill station, it was late afternoon due to heavy traffic with growing number of tourists.

On reaching, all we could see was crowds of tourists and no space for cars, or for that matter, people. Therefore, instead of roaming around the hill station in the cool weather, we preferred green Dehradun.