Kharakhet Satyagraha Trail | A walk in the bygone era | Dehradun

Perched at the base of the Mussoorie range on the periphery of Dehradun city, Kharakhet is a quiet village of about 35 houses. The daily life here is no different from the one you would witness in any typical mountain village. Until a few years ago, one had to trek (about 2 kms) from the last road-head, cross over a river stream (locally called ‘Nun’) and then saunter up the hill to reach Kharakhet. With the construction of a bridge over ‘Nun’ and a concrete road that almost touches the village frontiers, life seems to be bettering for the village folks here. A particular incident took place here during the colonial time and this event gave this tranquil village a well-deserved recognition in the annals of history.

Let’s revisit the famous Dandi March of 1930

Dandi March or the Salt Satyagraha or the Dandi Satyagraha was a non-violent civil disobedience movement focused on the freedom struggle from the clutches of the Raj Government. Salt was taxed by the British Govt. which accounted for roughly 8% of their total revenues.

Salt was a commodity used by everyone and therefore the protest centered around it aimed to unite a vast majority of the population towards a common cause i.e. to attain freedom.  Dandi March (walk) took place from 12th March 1930 until 06th April 1930, the date on which Mahatma Gandhi broke the salt law by making salt at Dandi. Many people along with Gandhiji were arrested for breaking the law.

But this movement had a far-reaching affect. Similar protests started in other parts of the country and even other laws in-place were objected by the people (example – the chowkidar tax, land tax, etc.)

Salt Satyragraha at Kharakhet (Dehradun)

Inspired by the Dandi march, many revolutionaries from and around Dehradun decided to undertake a similar protest. It is interesting to note that the name ‘Kharakhet’ itself draws from the Hindi word for “Salty”. Nun River (of which we wrote at the beginning) flows near to the village. It is a perennial river although the quantity of water has significantly reduced over the years. As the gradient is low, the flow of water is slow too and it therefore allows for a greater evaporation, resulting in creation of salt.

Freedom fighters from and around Dehradun that included Mahavir Tyagi, Krishna Dutt Vaid, Narayan Dutt Dangwal, Nardev Shastri, Swami Vicharananda, Hulas Verma, Ram Swaroop, Chaudhary Bihari, and others, gathered at Kharakhet between the period 20th April – 19th May in 6 batches to make salt and then they openly distributed it to the public near Town Hall, Dehradun (the present Tehsil Chowk area).

According to the then Salt Act, this was unlawful and was liable for a punishment anywhere between 6 months to 1 year period. Willingly, the heroes of Kharakhet went to jail but this strongly sent out a clear message in-line with the call earlier given by Mahatma Gandhi. The nation was coming together in its quest for “Sampoorna Swarajya” (complete freedom from the clutches of the British regime).

Photo of the Jail order (Courtesy – BTDT group, Dehradun)

The above photo is from the year 1930 and it displays a court order demanding the arrest of Shri Sundar Lal punishing him with a jail sentence of 1 year. He was part of the Kharakhet Satyagrah movement.

Wish to walk down the corridors of history? | Kharakhet Historical trail

Under the cover of a cloudless sky, on a chilly Sunday morning of January, I decided to make a visit to Kharakhet. I parked my vehicle near the newly constructed bridge and decided to walk the last 2 km stretch to well absorb the village milieu. As I trudged up the path that exhibited itself in a zig-zag pattern, birds made regular sorties and purred interesting melodies. In the far distance, scattered houses were noticeable with people busy tending to their animals or going about their daily routines. The trail (on both-sides) was dotted by tall Sal trees, and they stretched away into an interminable distance.

Soon, I arrived at a natural clearing which was a flat piece of stretch with visible agricultural activity happening around. A narrow path cut through the main road and led to a bigger clearing dotted by a group of houses. This was Kharakhet- the village that witnessed this historical event about nine decades ago. A wide metal board greets you with the title “Mahatma Gandhi Namak Satyagraha Aandolan Smarak”. As you walk past the gate the path descends into a small clearing where stands tall this memorial dedicated to the freedom fighters who defied the British by making salt here. ‘Nun’ flows right behind this memorial. There wasn’t any visible flow in the river with only a few scattered ponds of water in shades of green. Way back in 1930, it must have all happened at this place.

We come to the end of this post, and I hope that you enjoyed reading it.

Interested to visit Kharakhet? and would like to know how to reach here?

S.No.From/toTime/Distance / modeComments
1Clock Tower to Nanda ki Chowki25 mins  / 11 kms / Drive Drive along the Chakrata Road
2Nanda ki Chowki to Paundha9 mins / 5 kms / DriveTake the diversion towards UPES university.
3Paundha to Jaspal Rana Shooting Range and further until the bridge10 mins / 3 kms / DriveThere’s a diversion at Paundha that leads to Devbhoomi group of Institutions or the Jaspal Rana Shooting Range. One needs to take that diversion at Paundha (called RISS road). Continue on this path until you reach the bridge
4Bridge to Kharakhet Village30 mins / 2 kms / WalkWhile the road exists until Kharakhet, it may be a wise idea to walk down until the village
5Kharakhet Village to Memorial5 mins / 0.3 kms / Walk 

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