Dehradun “The History of Doon Valley”


In the past hundred years or so the Doon Valley has undergone several revolutionary changes that would be good to recapitulated so that the future drift of the city can be put into right perspective.

Let’s take the demarcation year as 1900.This was the year in which the first train from Haridwar reached Dehradun Railway Station. This landmark year 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.

Another landmark year for Doon was 1901, when telephone bells began ringing in the valley. But television had to wait till the year 1975 when the Mussoorie TV Tower was built.

The 19th century also saw the construction of a motorable road to Dehradun, though Mussoorie waited for the next century. It was in 1920 that the first car, a Ford T model was driven up to Kulri via Jharipani by Col E.W. Bell, son-in-law of ‘Swetenhams and owner of the Clouds End Estate. The present Mussoorie Road was built uptil Bhatta by 1930, King Craig by 1936, and after independence in 1954 it reached Library and in 1957 it reached Picture Palace.

The economy of the valley was primarily agricultural and was given a tourist boost by the visit of the Indian princes and the British during summers etc. It was only with the coming of electricity, in the year 1909, when the first bulb was lit on May 24, 1909, at Mussoorie, and in Doon in 1918, that the economy underwent a change.

The beginning of the 20th century saw the setting up of many national level institutions in the valley, In 1901, the then Viceroy Lord Curzon set up the Imperial Cadet Core impart military training to Princes and college students. In 1922, the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College (RIMC), now Rashtriya Indian Military College, was started at the same campus. RIMC was set up to train young Indian boys of aristocratic background for entry into Royal Military Collage, Sandhurst, in England.

In 1906 the Forest Research Institute was started at Chandbagh Estate where the Doon School is now located. In 1930, the Railway Staff College was set up in the present Chetwode building of IMA. The college closed down within a year or so due to financial constraints.

This campus was later (in 1932) selected for the establishment of the Indian Military Academy.The next towering institution to be set up in the valley that changed its very economic fabric was the ONGC. Most of the major schools and colleges in the valley were set up in the 20th century, though missionaries had started opening schools in the valley in the 1850s. One of the first schools to be set up was St George’s College Barlowganj, in 1853. American Presbyterian Mission Boys High School and Dehra Christian Girls’ Boarding School (CNI) are the two early schools that have a reputation even today.

The Doon Valley was amongst the first places in India to have a school for the blind. Sharp Memorial Blind School was opened in the early part of the century.Soon after Independence, the government established the Central Braille Press in 1951, which was followed by the setting up of NIVH in 1967. In the field of education for the handicapped there were many pioneers. Amongst them was Late Prof Ulfat who founded the Nanhi Dunya Movement. Another was Padma Bhushan Puran Singh Negi who pioneered the publication of books in Braille for the blind.

Today the Doon Valley is well known for public schools. The foundation for public schools was laid down with the setting up of The Doon School by Sir P.R. Das of the Indian Public School Society. Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy of India inaugurated the Doon School in 1935 and its first head master was A.E. Foot, a science teacher at Eton College, England.

Architecturally the skyline of the valley has changed drastically over the years. Most of the prominent landmarks and shopping malls were built by philanthropist businessmen of Doon, who were amongst the leading families of Doon.One such family was that of Seth Bhagwan Das.The family floated the first Indian Bank in the valley known as Bhagwan Das Bank Ltd. The then chairman of the Bank, Seth Nemi Das built the Jugminder Hall (Town Hall), Women’s Hospital Wing at the Doon Hospital and the only Sports Pavilion in the city. During the 1930s, the three local bodies of the valley were headed by three philanthropists, who were mates from their school days at AP Mission School – Rai Bahadur Choudhary Sher Singh, Rai Bahadur Ugrasen and Barrister Darshan Lal. Rai Bahadur Chaudhary Sher Singh was the chairman of the District Board. As chairman he took development to the rural areas. Most of the major roads in the villages were built during his time. He also opened many schools in the villages.

Rai Bahadur Ugrasen was the chairman of Dehradun Nagar Pallika. He built the two main shopping malls, Manda House Complex on a part of old Nashville Estate and Astley Hall Shopping Mall on Rajpur Road. He is also credited with bringing piped water into Dehrdaun municipality. Barrister Darshan Lal was the chairman of Mussoorie City Board. He increased the power generating capacity of Bhatta Falls. During his chairmanship the Dehradun-Mussoorie Road was extended up to Kingcraig from Bhatta. He was also instrumental in building the Landour Clock Tower.

After Independence, the citizens of Doon honored the builders of the Doon valley, by naming prominent roads and chowks after their names. One of the most important landmarks of the Doon Valley, the Balbir Tower (Clock Tower) was built to commemorate India’s independence. It was a collaborative effort of the Dehradun Nagar Pallika and Lala Sher Singh and Lala Anand Singh, leading businessmen of their times and was named after one of their ancestors who was also an honorary magistrate in his days.

The foundation stone was laid on July 2, 1948, by the then Governor of UP, Sarojini Naidu. The Clock Tower was completed in 1953 and was inaugurated by Lal Bahadur Shastri. It has a unique hexagonal architecture lending it heritage value.

The colossal philanthropic achievements of the earlier years was in subsequent years added to by shopping complexes, corporate houses, government buildings and high rise structures. Astley Hall, Mansa Ram Bank building and Manda House have been replaced by Windlass Shopping Complex, Plazas, Janpaths and shopping arcades.

Dehradun Pin Code 248001

Dehradun STD Code 0135

Dehradun Map

Dehradun Map

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    hi sir.i am graduate….i love to interact with people,i love to help people,i love to serve humanity.i would like to do work for charities in india,especially in dehradun,because,its my home town.if there is any charirty in dehradun,i would lilke to b a part of it.pls help me out to give me some charities in india,or n garhwal……you may contact on 09808516018.
    rohit bijalwan

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    Hello, I am Sandeep Kothari and I am from Dehradun since my birth. My great grandfather belonged from Tehri and then migrated to Dehradun in 1880. I was born in 1960 and since then I have witnessed many changes in doon valley. In this article I noticed that a lot of information was missing about the prominent Doon club, Survey of India, O.N.G.C. etc. Basically, Dehradun is situated at the foothills of the Great Himalayas and the Shivalik hills, while the doon district itself touches both Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

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    I am doonite, studied in St.Joseph academy.
    i miss the old charm of doon, its now a over crowded unplanned city.
    lets all pool our resources to save the city.

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