From delicious food to ancient river caves – there’s a lot of things to do in Dehradun. But in this blog, I am listing things that steer you away from the irritating tourist spots.
To do this effectively, I spoke with Indiahikes Trek Leaders — they know Dehradun like the back of their hand because many of our treks like Kedarkanta, Har ki Dun, Rupin Pass start from Dehradun.
While traveling to these trails, trekkers often find a day or two to spend in Dehradun after their treks. So instead of roaming around the same crowded tourist spots, here’s a list of diverse and interesting things to do in Dehradun, that are not necessarily crowded.
1. Skip Mussoorie, instead explore Landour Cantt.
At the mention of Dehradun, Mussoorie instantly pops up in our minds. They’re both usually mentioned together.
Photo by Komal Shivdasani
But off late, Mussoorie’s charming setting has been tattered by overcrowding and littering. It no longer tops the list of must-visit places. Instead, if you wish to explore around Dehradun, turn towards the quiet and serene Landour. The air here is comparatively fresh.
Landour also has a niche in the reader’s heart. Famous writer Ruskin Bond lives here. Every now and then you find him happily signing away books in the cramped Cambridge Bookstall.
2. Visit the Sakya Center Buddhist Monastery
Dehradun is heavily influenced by Tibetian culture and tradition. The Sakya Center Buddhist Monastery, a spiritual center for Tibetian Buddhism, is an example of that.
Situated on the famous Rajpur road, this monastery was first founded in 1073 in Sakya, Tibet. It was re-established in Dehradun in 1964.
An interesting thing to do in Dehradun would be to spend some time in this peaceful Monastery and learn more about Tibetian culture and worship. Outside this monastery, you’ll find a line of souvenir shops. You may pick a trinket from here as a memory of this peaceful place.
3. Explore Forest Trails of Chakrata
If you are looking for some quiet time, this has to be on your list of things to do in Dehradun.
Chakrata is a cantonment town between the Tons and Yamuna rivers. If you have an extra night in the region, travel around 92 km to Chakrata and stay there for a night.
It is a silent hill station. During the day, explore the hilly town, spend time at the garden near Ramtal that’s home to birds like Grey Treepie, Turtle Dove, and Black Headed Jay.
You may even explore a trek like Deoban which starts from Chakrata and takes you on a forest trail through Deodar trees.
4. Ride a Bike to Kimadi, a Village near Dehradun
This route from Dehradun to Kimadi is famous among bikers because of the scenic winding roads. You will take a little more than 2 hours to reach Kimadi. But avoid riding on these roads during monsoon. This route is prone to landslides.
Once you reach Kimadi, pause to catch the golden sun setting over this quaint village.
Note: We are looking for more information and photos of this route. If you have been to Kimadi, please share your experience with firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Witness the Engineering Marvel of Tehri Dam
The elegant Bhagirathi river flowing by the Tehri dam. Photo by Trek Leader Pradyumna
Situated around 100 km from Dehradun, it will take you around 3 hours to reach the Tehri Dam Project from Dehradun. It’s a great spot to explore if you have an extra day in hand.
Tehri Dam, built on the bank of the turquoise Bhagirathi river, is the tallest dam in India. Apart from being an engineering marvel, the spot is also gaining popularity for water adventure sports in Tehri lake.
You may either travel from Dehradun to Tehri via Rishikesh on the same day or travel to Chamba the previous day and halt for the night. Tehri is merely 11 km from Chamba. This way, you can explore Tehri and be back to Dehradun in time for your onward journey.
6. Visit Timber Museum inside the Forest Research Institute
The Forest Research Institute (FRI) started as a Forest School in 1878. That makes it more than 200 years old!
Set on a huge expanse of land on Brandis Road, the main building lends itself to a grand tour. So quite understandably, there’s a museum here which houses the rich history of this place.
The FRI Timber Museum hosts five branches on different subjects ranging from Timber to History. If you want to avoid crowds, spend a day at the museums, learning more about the life of trees and forests. The museum remains open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays.
| Note: The museum is temporarily closed due to the spread of Covid-19. Please check with the museum on 0135 275 5491 before scheduling a visit.
7. Explore Robber’s Cave
The Robber’s Cave is an interesting river cave in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s quite close to Dehradun city, barely 8 km away.
Locally this cave is known as Guchhupani. It is a narrow strip of water body towering boulders up to 10 meters. There is also a broken fort wall and rocky boulders on either side.
If you are feeling adventurous, the Robber’s cave is an interesting place to add to this list. From July to September, expect to wade through knee-deep waters to get to the other side.
Bonus: Trek Leaders list 6 Eating Joints in Dehradun for Foodies
It is no secret that Dehradun is famous for its good food. So eating had to be on their list of interesting things to do in Dehradun.
Singh Soup Bar is a spot famous for a variety of soups and Momos. Head over to Kalsang Friends Corner if you are craving cheese cakes, or pizza.
South Indian Vibes
For a sumptuous and inexpensive meal, Uss Da Dhaba would be a great choice. They serve a typical north Indian meal which is both filling and cheap. For biryani lovers, Ayushi suggests Moti Mahal. She swears by her biryani and while saying that they never get it wrong. “I gave vegan instructions this time, even that was good,” she says, sharing her experience as a vegan trek leader. (Read: How This Vegan Outdoor Trek Leader Is Breaking Dietary Stereotypes)
If you are looking for great Chinese food with a view, then The Orchard is a must-visit. From here, you can eat while gazing at the glowing orange sun setting behind the mighty mountains.
That brings us to the end of this list. Have you experienced any of the above? Do you have any other suggestions to add on to this list? Do drop a comment below.