Every town or city has a part which is older than the rest of it and has an environment that has remained quite unchanged despite the rapid changes in the other parts.
Dehradun, a valley town, also has this old area near the railway station, with its crowded lanes and bylanes. This is a world which is very different from the well-developed capital city of Dehradun. It is a world in itself.
Wholesale markets of foodgrains and all other items required in the kitchen make this area a popular destination for people as buying rations here can cut down the costs quite a bit. Arhat Bazaar, Hanuman Chowk, Laxman Chowk, Raja Road and some other areas fall in this old city area. Crowded these parts are but at the same time, they have a special look and personality which reminds one of yesteryears. Things still move a bit slowly here as they used to in the entire town before it became the interim capital of the new hill state.
Dhabas, halwai shops and small restaurants are abundant in this part of the city. And so are small motels and inns where people can stay, if they need to, after getting down at the railway station. Till some years ago, representatives from these inns would be present at the station to inform people about the facilities that were available at these inns or motels. They would offer to carry the luggage upto the inns and let the passenger follow them, walking.However, I have not seen this happening now. For people who wish to go on to Mussoorie from the station, taxis and buses are available.The railway station is very conveniently located and forms an attractive part of the old city.
Standing in the heart of the old city is a monument which is the replica of Jahangir’s tomb that is located in Pakistan. This was built here by Aurangzeb as a tribute to his friend Ram Rai, the guru who was thrown out of the line of Sikh Gurus due to his having shown miracles in Aurangzeb’s court and also misinterpreting words from Gurubani to please the Mughal king. It is this “Darbar” of Ram Rai that gives a unique look to the old city area of the Doon valley. A line of Mahants was started by Ram Rai’s wife after his death. And this still continues. The Mahant’s darbar is a place of veneration as followers from all parts of northern India flock here to pay their homage to him. Newly married couples come here to take blessings from the Mahant before starting their new life. Ram Rai’s Darbar holds great significance as it was he who was the founder of this beautiful town called Dehradun. When he came and first camped here with his followers, the place began being called “Camp in the Valley” (Dera means Camp and Doon means valley).
Every year, on the fifth day of Holi, this part of the city becomes even more alive when the Jhande Ka Mela gets underway in and around the Darbar Sahib. Thousands of devotees reach Dehradun to take part in these fortnight long celebrations. These days this mela is underway. A temporary bazaar that is put up for the mela increases the bustle in the area and shopkeepers enjoy boosted sales during this festive time. Tourists are drawn to the Darbar Sahib during the mela as well as otherwise.
Singh Sabha Gurudwara is also an attraction of the old city as is the Hanuman Mandir at Hanuman Chowk. A very special shop located here prepares a sumptuous meal of puris, kachoris, khatta–meethha kaddu and aloo ki sabzi alongwith raita and pickles. It has been famous since long and even today, a visit to the Doon valley remains incomplete if one has not tasted this colourful thhaali of fried delicacies.
The streets are congested and yet there is an air of relaxation which one can not any longer feel in the newer parts of the city. The shops are not yet much modernised and bear the look of the old bazaars which were so abundant in all cities once upon a time. People still seem to have time enough to sit and talk to each other leisurely over a cup of tea. One can only hope that the modern, hectic lifestyle does not soon take over the old city and deprive us of its unique atmosphere. Old Dehradun has a special charm, no doubt. read more post…
Saturday, 24 March 2018 | Jaskiran Chopra | Dehradun-