History Of Dehradun


The Clock Tower Dehradun

The History of Dehradun dates back to the Mahabharata era. Since then the city of  Dehradun has witnessed a long transformation to its present state. We see a lot of frequent ups and downs in the History of Dehradun with the times. Let us start from the ancient age and find out how the History of Dehradun unfolds itself .

The Ancient Age

Dehradun, also known as Doon finds its reference in the ancient Hindu scriptures. According to Skanda Puran, Doon is a part of the Kedar Khand , home of Lord Shiva. According to a popular belief , during the Mahabharata Era, Guru Dronacharya , the great scholar and teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas was born here  and lived at dwara village which is around 20 kms from dehradun. It is also believed that Guru Dronacharya  worshipped lord Shiva at Tapkeshwar to attain the knowledge of archery. Hence this place was called Drona Nagri. After the end of Mahabharata battle the five Pandava brothers and Draupadi walked through Doon on their way to swargarohini. Dehradun also find its mention in the Ramayana that when Laxman was injured , Lord Hanuman came to Shivaliks to find the curing herb. Ravana was also injured here during the battle. Not to mention that the Doon valley is surrounded by the Shivalik range of mountains and the Yamuna and Ganga rivers.


The Medieval Age

This was the age when Dehradun was ruled by many intruders . It is also established that once Emperor Ashoka used to rule here. There is a rare rock found near Kalsi , 56 kms from dehradun which has edicts of Emperor Ashoka around 250 B.C.  Several rulers ruled this place from the Aryans to the Katyuris ( Suryavanshis) between 9th & 11th centuries. Other rulers include the Timur who came here at around end of 13th century defeating King Bahruz who was ruling this place of behalf of the king of Garhwal. In 1575 Hussain Khan Kashmiri seized eastern doon and became the ruler.

It was in 1675 when Guru Ram Rai came here on exile and settled in Dhamawala. In 1699 he set up his Gurudwara  at Dhamawala which laid the foundation of the modern Dehradun. It is believed that the name Dehradun is a derived from combining two words dehra ( or dera) which generally means stay and Dun (in Sanskrit means valley) by which this place was known . As Dehradun was also known as Doon or Dun valley. Though the exact story behind the name Dehradun is not known.

The valley was  flourishing  in the mid 18th century which attracted rulers from neighbouring states. Najib-ud-dullah attacked Dehradun in 1757 and captured it . He ruled dehradun till 1770 when he died.  In 1783 the Sikhs raided the town and ruled . From time to time others like the Rajputs , the Gujjars and the Marathas ruled here in quick successions.  Then it was in year 1803 a strong Gurkha army led by Bal Bhadra Thapa attacked the Garhwal king Pradyumna Shah and made him flee  to Saharanpur. Later the King attacked the Gurkhas with his sons and  an army of 12000 people  but was killed in the battle. The British were controlling  Saharanpur and the adjoining areas at that time and the   Gurkhas hostility towards the British led to the war between Gurkhas and the British between 1814 -1816 also known as the Anglo Nepalese war. The Gurkhas was ousted after the siege of the fort of Nalapani and the chief  Umer Singh Thapa was made to surrender. After the Sugauli treaty betwen the East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal the long fought war was ended and led to the annexation of  Dehradun and the east Garhwal Kingdom. Dehradun remained  part of the Garhwal kingdom for a long time except for a brief Rohilla interlude.

The Dehradun municipality was established in the year 1867. According to the Walton’s gazzete Dehradun had a poulation of 2100 with 500 houses. Later after the discovery of  mussoorie  in 1823 by capt. Young and Mr Shore Rajpur became the halting point for way up to mussoorie.

The Britishers made the first land grants in year 1838 with setting up the first tea plantation in Kaulagarh Tea Garden. Farmers were attracted to tea being a useful and gainful crop. Tea plantation were spread in the areas of  Banjarawala, Sirmaur, Kargi and Mehuwala. Even today you can find the tea gardens but the tea business has slowly gone down.

The Modern Age

1900, This was the  year when the first train from Haridwar reached  Dehradun. With the railways coming in the year 1900 Dehradun became a major commercial point and center of other business activities and the wheel of development started rolling. Dehradun Became more accessible to the rest of the country. Dehradun started gaining popularity for the five c.  Chawal, Chuna (LimeStone),Chai (Tea), Chobe ( Timber) and Chestnuts. Dehradun came under the All India Postal Network set up by the then British government during this year. The Doon valley’s first ever  radio station,  became functional in this year in the Kutchery Compound by the efforts of the then District Magistrate A.J.K. Hallow. Later this station was closed down due to nationalization of radio broadcasting during World War I. In 1901 it was another great achievement when telephone services started in Dehradun and  telephone bells started ringing in the valley. Dehradun  gracefully established itself in the world map in 1909, when the first bulb was lit on May 24, 1909, at Mussoorie, and  subsequently in Dehradun in 1918. There is an old and famous saying that when Delhi had lantern Mussoorie used to have a bulb. So advanced was this city at that time.

Later the motorable road between Dehradun to Mussoorie was opened in 1920 and Dehradun became a focus point for the Britishers . Several dignitaries from the British empire and Indian Royal families started visiting Dehradun and Mussoorie and Dehradun started gaining popularity as a major tourist attraction.

There were several prominent institution  that were set up during the British era.


  • In 1767 , Survey Of India was established with the purpose to help consolidate the territories of East India Company. It is a premier engineering agency  incharge of  mapping and surveying. It is also one of the oldest engineering departments of the government of India.
  • In 1853 , St George College was founded in Barlowganj , Musssorie by the Capuchin Fathers. Spread over 400 acres it was the first opened in a cottage called Manor House . Still the campus is known with the same name. It is a premier boarding school in Mussoorie affiliated to the ICSE.
  • In 1901 , The Imperial Cadet Core ( also known as Rajwada Camp at that time) was established in the current Garhi Cantt area to impart military training to the princes. Later in the year 1922 the Royal Indian Military College was founded on the premises of Imperial Cadet Core and was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales , Prince Edward VIII on 13th March 1922. Now it is known as Rashtriya Indian Military College ( RIMC).
  • In the early 20th century Dehradun had India’s First school for the blind. The Sharp Memorial School for blind was established. In the year 1951 the Central Braille Press was established by the government of India which was followed by setting up of the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped ( NIVH ) in 1967.
  • In 1906 , The Imperial Forest research Institute was established in Chandbagh Estate currently the Garhi cantt area, which is now known as Forest Research Institute (FRI)  and is functional under the Indian Council Of Forestry Research And Education (ICFRE).
  • In 1930 , The Railway Staff College was set up in Prem Nagar as an management training institute to train the officers of the Indian Railways .  It was housed at the same place where today the Indian Military Academy is located. Later in 1952 it was shifted to Vadodara.  At present it is known as the National Academy of the Indian Railways or Bhartiya Rail Rashtriya Academy in Hindi.
  • In 1932 , The Indian Military Academy (IMA) was established with the purpose to train and induct Indians as commissioned officers in the Indian Army. Until World War 1 Indians were not eligible to commission as officers in Indian Army. Today IMA is a prestigious defence institution in the world and still there are some seats reserved for foreign cadets.
  • In 1935 , The famous Doon School was set up in the lush green area of Chandbagh Estate with the efforts of the then eminent barrister in pre independence India Mr. S. R. Das who was also the member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy of India . It was the vision of Mr. S.R. Das to provide the Indian youth with an opportunity to get all round education based on the English public school system blended with the rich tradition and culture of India. The first Head master was Mr. A. E. Foot, who was a science teacher in the Eton College England.
  • In 1948 , to commemorate the Indian independence Sarojini Naidu laid the foundation stone for the another landmark, The clock tower. It was completed in the year 1953 and was inaugurated by Shri Lal Bahadur Shashtri.
  • In 1955 , the government of India set up the Oil and Natural gas directorate to speed up the development of oil and natural gas sources in various parts of the country. Later in the year 1956 it was raised to the status of commission with increased powers. In october 1959 it was converted into full fledged statutory body with enhanced powers.
  • In the year 1975 ,  the Mussoorie TV tower was built and Dehradun had its first television service.