When you visit Dehradun, one thing you’ll notice is, many educational and medical institutes named after Shri Guru Ram Rai ji (1646-1687). Born on the fifth day after Holi to the seventh Sikh guru Sri Har Rai ji, Ram Rai ji was excommunicated by his father after he showed willingness to change a verse from Asa ki Var, a Sikh scripture, when Aurangzeb objected to it. In return, the Mughal emperor asked contemporary Garhwal Raja Fateh Shah to help Ram Rai ji set up his camp (Dera) in the Dun valley and thus, the place came to be known as Dehradun (from Dera Dun).
The construction of Shree Guru Ram Rai Darbar Sahib was completed in 1707. An architectural marvel, the shrine houses samples from Indo-Islamic architecture with its beautiful domes and minarets, houses mural paintings of saints, sages, gods and goddesses, and pictures of animals, birds, leaves, flowers which reflect Gular-Kangra style of Pahari painting, Rajasthani painting and Mughal style of painting, an epitome of mixed culture.
If you happen to visit the capital around the festival of Holi, you can be witness to one of the popular events of North India, known as Jhanda Mela. Held in the memory of Shri Guru Ram Rai ji, this fair is an annual affair flagged off on the fifth day after Holi. Streets are filled with believers singing
लाई-लाई बाबे ने फुला दी बरखा लाई, फुल्लां दी वरखा लाई बाबे ने फुल्लां दी वरखा लाई बाबे ने.
After Ram Rai ji’s demise, his wife looked after the maintenance of the Gurudwara for a brief period, before appointing Sajjada Nashin Sri Mahants to rise to the Gaddi and look after the shrine. It was the 9th in the line Sri Mahant Indiresh Charan Das ji who carried out major restoration work on the Gurudwara, including the famous sarovar in its campus (which had becoming a dumping yard!) and established the SGRR mission of education, which has Shri Mahant Indiresh Hospital and SGRR Medical college under its belt. Both are also located at a convenient distance of about 2kms from Dehradun railway station and ISBT.
Today, the Gurudwara’s trust works for the proper education and health of the local people. People of all communities, castes and religions are welcome in the darbar. Like any gurudwara, its langarkhana serves hundreds of visitors every day. It is accessible from 7 am in the morning to 7 pm in the evening. You can take a city bus or shared auto to reach SGRR Darbar Sahib. Just take out your footwear outside the premises, cover your head and go ahead to seek thy blessings!