Dehradun is a valley, surrounded by the Mussoorie Range of the lower Himalayas in the north, and the Shivalik range on the south. Valleys do not have direct points of access to them. They can be reached only through certain passes in the mountain that surround them. That is something that makes valleys so much more defensible.
From the plains, Dehradun has three points of entry – Timli, Mohund and Kansrao. While Timli and Mohund have been used since medieval times, Kansrao is more recent as it facilitates rail travel. A look at the history of these passes proves to be quite interesting.
Timli pass has historically been the key to western Doon. It is located about 11 Kilometers east of the Yamuna river and just to the south of the Asan river. This pass was the main way to reach Kalsi, an important place in its own right in old times. Presently known for its famous Ashokan Rock Edict, during the 16th and 17thcenturies, Kalsi was a famous centre of trade in western Doon, a thriving city and also the capital of the local rulers on some occasions.
The second of the passes into the Doon valley is the Mohund pass. Also known as the Kheree Pass to some people, Mohund is located almost midway between the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers, the eastern and western borders of Dehradun respectively. This pass is the main entryway through road into the Doon Valley in present times. Historically too this pass was of great importance for the defense of Doon.
One of the most striking features of the road in through this pass is the tunnel located near the Daat Kali Temple. On the city side of the tunnel is the Bhadrakali Temple. The Bhadrakali temple was built by the Nepali army stationed to protect the pass. The role of the check post has now been taken over by Asarodi, a little further down towards the city. The etymology of the Daat Kali Temple is very interesting. Although the veracity of this tale cannot be confirmed, it is said that the temple was built when successive attempts to construct the tunnel failed. ‘Daat’ in Hindi means an arc, a possible reference to the shape of the tunnel. The temple was hence supposedly built to solicit Almighty’s blessings on the project and was subsequently named after it.
Strictly speaking, Kansrao is not really a pass. It is actually a place through which the present railway line passes. Located almost along the Suswa and Song rivers, it is a nature lovers delight. Lush green forests and an abundance of wildlife, especially elephants, give this place a really good ambience. The railway line passes through Motichur and Raiwala, the latter being the lowest point of the Doon Valley.
Irrespective of where you enter Dehradun from, you are bound to have a great time!
Siddharth Priyadarshi Sharma