Dehradun’s 1st Magistrate (of East India Company) and the story of a 200 yr old well

Khalanga War Memorial. Built by the british to honor the valour of the Gorkha warriors.
Khalanga War Memorial built by the British in the Honor of the Gorkhas – Photo Courtesy BTDT Group

The battle of Nalapani (October – November 1814) was a watershed moment for the people of Dehradun as well as for the inhabitants of Kumaon / Garhwal regions. The East India Company led by Major-General Robert Gillespie, using their state of art weaponry of those times, defeated the Gorkha warriors led by Captain Balbhadra Kunwar. While the British won the war and took the area under their control, they realised the valour of the Gorkhas and later established a memorial (known as the Khalanga Memorial) in their honor. This memorial is located on the Shahastradhara road in Dehradun. British, in 1815 , inducted the Gorkhas in a dedicated regiment (Sirmour Regiment).

On 28th February 1817, a regulation (IV) was passed by a council of the Govt. of East India Company that eventually annexed Dehradun and neighbouring areas into the district of Saharanpur. In 1822-23, Mr. Frederick John Shore, Joint Magistrate and Registrar of the Civil Court of Saharanpur was given the charge to oversee the work of the company in Dehradun. He can easily qualify as the 1st civil services officer (of the East India Company) to administer Dehradun properly*. His administration lasted nearly 6 years before he handed over the reins to Major Frederick Young (the person who had earlier raised the 1st Gorkha regiment)

*Mr. T.P Calvert , Mr. A Murray and Mr. M Moore briefly served Dehradun between 1817 and 1822 in the capacity of Additional Collector – District Saharanpur, but it was Mr. Shore who dedicatedly served Dehradun post taking charge on 21st January 1823.

Mullingar House (1st permanent building of Mussoorie) built in 1825

These 2 Fredericks (Frederick John Shore and Frederick Young) were the ones who discovered Mussoorie in 1823 while on a short hunting trip. They were so enamoured by the beauty of this place that Frederick Young (who was a lieutenant at that time) eventually decided to build a house there. His building (also known as the Mullingar House) was the first building of Mussoorie (it still exists).

A 200-year-Old well in Dehradun – Frederick John Shore’s Connection

Construction of canals and wells was undertaken at a good pace between 1820s and 1840s. The primary purpose of these constructions was to provide regular supply of water to irrigate the lands (leading to better crop output and therefore more revenue collection for the East India company) and to provide drinking water to the inhabitants.

While the famous canals of Dehradun (click here to read about the canals of Dehradun) have all been closed down to make way for road-expansion work, a famous well , constructed under the supervision of Joint Magistrate Frederick John Shore still exists (though in a dilapidated condition).

In the book (Historical and Statistical Memoir of Dehradun by G.R.C Williams, published in 1874), Mr. Williams mention about Mr. Shore’s famous well that was built near the Kutcherry  (collectorate). 228 feet deep well was built in the 1820s at a cost of Rupees 11,000/-.

The well (located only a few metres ahead of the collectorate building entrance) is in a very bad condition and may crumble down if not addressed on priority. This is surely a historical building, and it must be preserved so that the future generations can know about it and connect with the past.

On reading some articles on the web, I realized that some efforts were made by citizen led groups who met the Govt. officials to apprise them about this heritage property that needs urgent attention, however, the sad reality (see the pictures) is in front of us. We must protect such structures, create a heritage walk around it, so that more and more people are aware of the rich history that this beautiful city has to offer.

As for my bit, I realized that the location did not even exist on google maps, and therefore, I have marked this on the Google maps (Click here to view the location) and added photos for people to easily locate it on Google. The blogpost will further add to the little information that is available on the web about it.



  1. Nice walk through the history of the city.I am sure many people will not be aware of this bit of historical past. Thanks for sharing. Keep enriching us.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s