History of Dehradun - Page 3

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.  This was followed by the setting up of NIVH in 1967 in an area of about 43 acres on Mussoorie-Dehradun Highway. NIVH is an autonomous body under the Ministry Of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government Of India. It is a training centre for the blind. It is also engaged in production of Braille literature, aids and appliances for  visually handicapped . In the field of education for the handicapped there were many pioneers. Padma Bhushan Puran Singh Negi pioneered the publication of books in Braille for the blind. Prof. Lekh Raj Ulfat  founded the Nanhi Duniya Movement. The Nanhi Duniya School was for a long time the only school in India to incorporate elements of Waldorf Education. The main aim of Nanhi Duniya at the time of its foundation was to contribute to a peaceful, sustainable and integrated world, where all living beings can live and grow in universal harmony. Nanhi Duniya movement is primarily committed to serve children as they are the creators of the future. Prof. Lekh Raj Ulfat always believed that -“The little world of today’s children can make or mar (ruin) the big world of tomorrow. To help in the evolution of new human beings complete, balanced, just and independent, let us live to serve the child. These little beings of the future in turn will be able to contribute positively to their own development and world evolution spiritually, scientifically and aesthetically”.

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 Satish Ranjan Das, one of pre-Independence India's eminent barristers and a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy of India. His mission was to constitute India's first public school in an era when 'Chief's Colleges' were the ultimate school experience. The Doon School was meant to provide the youth of the country with an opportunity to get an all-round education based on an adaptation of the English public school system on India's tradition-enriched soil. 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.

The skyline of the valley has changed drastically over the years. Most of the prominent landmarks and shopping areas 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 Dehradun 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.

clock tower dehradun 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 Clock Tower in Dehradun is the largest non-chiming six faced clock today. The Clock Tower has six faces and is a unique structure of this kind in the Asian continent.

Till a few years back, Dehradun did not have a single traffic light. In fact, it did not need one, such was the leisurely pace of life in this peaceful valley. Now, there is a light at each crossing, traffic is bursting to the seams and residents are plagued by long traffic jams everyday. The retired man's haven has transformed into a busy political and commercial hub.

(1) The Doon Valley Down the Ages by Prem Hari Har Lall