History of Dehradun

Dehradun lies at the center of the 120 km long Doon Valley. This valley has been formed by Tectonic activity within the earth.  The Doon Valley is situated between Latitude 30°-30°32’ and Longitude 77°43'-78°24’. It is nearly 75 km long from North West to South East and 25 km broad from the North East to South West. Doon Valley has the Himalayas to its north, the Shivalik range to its south, the sacred Ganges to its east and the Yamuna to its west. Neighbouring cities and towns include  Haridwar,  Rishikesh,  Roorkee,  Mussoorie,  Saharanpur and Paonta Sahib.

On 9th November 2000, Dehradun became the capital of the newly created 27th state of India, Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal). Before this, Dehradun was a part of Uttar Pradesh state.

Dehradun has a rich and eventful history. In Skanda Purana, Doon is mentioned as a part of the region called Kedar Khand, the abode of Shiva. There is a direct reference to the valley in the epic Mahabharata.  The Pandavas and Kauravas had their military education here under Acharya Dron who had his military academy in the Doon Valley. “Doon” means valley in the Sanskrit language. The place was called “Dron Doon” after him. The present day Indian Military Academy’s ceremonial gate is named “Dron Dwar” after the great Guru. After the Mahabharat era , the next mention of Doon is during the Maurayan period (321-184 B.C.). The capital town in those days was Kalkut (present day Kalsi). Emperor Ashok installed one of his rock edicts at Kalsi. It was discovered in 1860 A.D. by an Englishman, Mr. Forest. The rock inscription is the earliest tangible evidence of the history of Dehradun.

Historically, Dehradun has remained part of the Garhwal Kingdom also known as Kedar Khand. 'Kedarkhand', was founded by Ajai Pal, around 1400, by capturing all the minor principalities of the Garhwal region, under his own sway, and thereafter, he and his descendants ruled over Garhwal and the adjacent state of Tehri-Garhwal in an uninterrupted line till 1803, when Gurkhas invaded Kumaon and Garhwal. Katyuris of Garhwal were the initial rulers of this region. Later, this stronghold of the Katyuri dynasty passed into the hands of the Sikhs and Mughals.

The history of Dehradun reveals that Aurangzeb had banished Sikh Guru Ram Rai, the elder son of seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai, who was part of the Udasi sect of Sikh Asceticism to the wilderness of Doon in 1675. Ram Rai  set up camp in the present Khurbura locality. In 1699, he constructed  a Gurudwara called 'Guru Ram Rai Darbar', with the help of Raja of Garhwal, Fateh Shah and hoisted his flag there. The Gurudwara was modelled on the tomb of Mughal Emperor Jehangir . Till this day a large fair is held here every year in the month of March/April on the sixth day after Holi and a flag (Jhanda) unfurled at the Jhanda Chowk.

Dehra town grew up around these two sites where Ram Rai settled. Dehra seems a corruption of  'dera',  a temporary abode.  'Dun' means the low lands at the foot of a mountain range, and since most of the district lies in such a terrain, it justifies the dun part of the name.

The Gurkhas of Nepal ruled for many years till the British came. In April 1815, the Gurkhas were ousted and Garhwal annexed by the British. Following a war between the Gurkhas and the British, the Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816. With this, the British established their hold over the entire Garhwal and Kumaon regions including Dehradun.  Dehradun served as a British army base and educational center after 1815. Tea plantations in Dehradun, first started by Britons in 1863 are still operational although many of Dehradun’s tea pockets like Sirmour, Banjarawala and Kargi are fast getting converted into residential colonies.

'Dehra Dun' municipality was established in 1867, and in 1900 railways made its way to Dehradun via Haridwar, which was earlier connected in 1886.

The year 1900 is a landmark year in Dehradun’s history. This was the year in which the first train from Haridwar reached Dehradun Railway Station. Thus began the process of making the valley more accessible for the rest of India, and particularly the British. 1900 was a significant year also because it saw the abolishment of the District Postal System as now Dehradun came under the umbrella of the All India Postal Network set up by the then British government. The valley’s first radio station, too, became functional in this year in the Kutchery Compound through persistent efforts of the then District Magistrate A.J.K. Hallow. Later this station was closed down once nationalization of radio broadcasting took place during World War I.