Dehradun: Then & Now
I recently visited Dehradun which has become the capital of recently carved out state of Uttrakhand. Earlier it entire area lied in Uttar Pradesh. Many things have changed since the time I lived in Dehradun from 1978 to 1978 during first posting of my job in ONGC. At that time the place was so peaceful, full of greenery and weather was excellent. While traveling to Dehradun from my hometown at Chandigarh, as soon as the bus entered hills leading to the valley, a perceptible change in the air will be felt. The breath become easier away from the dust of the plains as the bus meandered the sinuous road leading to Dehradun.
It was rather a sleepy town with people in no hurry whatsoever. There were leechi gardens everywhere. Initially, when I was unmarried, I used to travel by foot long distances with my friends. Everyday, after the office, we used to while away our time walking across the Rajpur Road and Paltan Bazar which was even at that time crowded. Another good spot I frequented was the campus of Forest Research Institute (FRI). Dense population of deodar trees looked so clear that they looked like a solid wall of bluish hue. There were so many places around the city which were ideal picnic spots. I can mention Shiva temple at a place called Tapkeshwar near the Garhi Cantonment. There is a cave in which the water seeped from the roof formed of limestone forming Stalactite hanging from the roof. The place was so cool and peaceful.
It was a very nostalgic visit to the city where I got my first job. After becoming the capital of the state, the real estate property prices have soared sky high. It is not possible even to think of buying a house there. I got a surprise this time we visited the FRI. A ticket has been imposed on the visitors. The bus stand has been shifted to Majra about 8 kilometers from the city. In the day time, we rode a three wheeler, which took about 40 minutes to reach the spot from Clock Tower.
There was a beautiful open canal running parallel to the road from Garhi Cantonment towards Ballupur. The road has been broadened and the canal has been buried underneath. In the older times, there were hardly any cars and scooters. Mostly people used bicycles. Now the vehicles have multiplied exponentially causing the terrible traffic. It is not possible to walk along the roads without being fully alert to the vehicle whizzing past.
Tapkeshwar temple has now acquired commercial look. Many small temples have come up. Good echelon have been constructed to reach down the temple from the road above. Another legend has been added to the place. It is that of Guru Drona staying and meditating here for years. The pictures of the Drona has been put in small temples. But the stream still seems beautifully purling along.
Like every other place, this beautiful city also has succumbed to overcrowding, pollution and other vagaries associated with the big cities.