India, one of the largest countries in the world, is a fascinating country to explore due to its variety of historical and cultural treasures. More than half the tourists, however, venture only to New Delhi, Mumbai, and its major cities. This makes them miss a lot of other places such as the Uttarakhand region, which lies at the foot of the Himalayas. Those making their way to this northern part of India can visit through Dehra Dun Airport, also known as Jolly Grant Airport. It serves Dehra Dun, Riskikesh, and Haridwar, among other towns and cities in the region.
Built in 1974, this port of entry first served passengers going between faraway parts of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. More flight connections were added through the years, until it became possible to reach Dehra Dun through New Delhi in 2004, making it more convenient for those who want to see the Himalayas and other landmarks in Uttarakhand.
What to see & do
The British, with their long-ago occupation of Dehra Dun, has left a mark in this capital of Uttarakhand. One can start off with the Forest Research Institute Museum, which is housed within a red-brick structure reminiscent of the Raj era, with its Mughal towers, arches, and intricate columns set off with elegant cloisters. Those entering here will find displays on Indian forests and artworks by Afshan Zaidi, which illustrate the beauty of the flora and fauna. From here, one can move to the traditional landmarks of Dehra Dun such as the Tapkeshwar Temple, which is located in a scenic setting by the banks of the Tons Nadi River. One will find here with other visitors a temple to Shiva in a small, dripping cave. Those going out of the region can also venture to the Great Stupa, where a Tibetan Buddhist community lives. They center around the Mindrolling Monastery, another great landmark in the area.
Travelers visiting Uttarakhand will find a variety of areas to explore other than Dehra Dun. There is also Riskikesh, which lies only about 20 kilometers away from the airport. A popular part of India, this city attracts practitioners of yoga and the spiritualism movement. It is also a primary pilgrimage spot, due to several kinds of yoga and meditation classes offered here. Swarg Ashram, a spiritual community, is one of the highlights here due to the profusion of temples, ashrams, sadhus, and other areas where religious ceremonies are performed. Those who want to witness such an event can go around to Parmarth Niketan Ashram in the evenings, when singing and chanting is done with lighting of the candles.
Although a bit far within the close boundaries of Dehra Dun and Rishikesh, the Corbett Tiger Reserve more than makes up to the additional travel time. Established as the first national park in India, this area is a fine destination for those who want to view the wildlife in its natural habitat. There are wild elephants, sloth bears, otters, sambar deer, and a variety of birds. Tigers lying about in the reserve can be a bit tricky to catch sight of, as they often hide away from human presence. One is rarely disappointed when visiting between April to mid-June, however, when these majestic beasts come down near the water.
How to get around
Travelers heading to this part of India can go around in jeeps driving around steep roads due to its proximity to the Himalayas. They are very convenient, however, as they allow travelers to visit various remote towns within the region or get near the mountains for those who want a closer view. Train service is also available in the region, but it is confined only to the plains of Dehra Dun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Ramnagar.
How to get there
Those going to Uttarakhand can schedule connecting flights to Dehra Dun Airport. Airlines serving here include Air India Regional, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, and Ventura AirConnect, which transport passengers between Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Thiruvananthapuram, among others.
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