Dust storm, a natural hazard, has a direct impact on daily life for a short period. Dust storms are periodic events over India, especially in northern regions. This study has been carried out to investigate the dust impacts on the aerosol characteristics over Dehradun (DDN) during pre-monsoon (March–June), 2012 using ground measurements, satellite observations and model simulations. The measurements illustrate the distinct monthly impact on the aerosol properties with maximum dust loading during May (aerosol optical depth at 500 nm (AOD500) = 0.72 ± 0.18) over DDN, which is confirmed with the Terra-MODIS (AOD550 = 0.70 ± 0.19) measurements. The major dust loading was recorded in aerosol measurements during May at the station, which permitting to examine the influence of dust transports on the aerosol characteristics. Spectral variation of AOD and Angstrom exponent (α) values displayed day to day variation of aerosol during dust episodes. Analysis of aerosol types and seven-day back-trajectories reveal the transportation of desert dust during May over DDN. The Optical Properties of Aerosols and Clouds (OPAC) model was used to compute the aerosol optical properties (e.g., Single scattering albedo (SSA) and asymmetry parameter (g)) and size distribution. The high values of SSA and g are indicating the dust loading in the atmosphere during May. Aerosol volume concentration at the coarse mode (geometric mean radii (RV) = 2.89 ± 0.027 µm) is found to be increased in the May, whereas decrement has been observed in the finer mode (RV = 0.16 ± 0.006 µm). The aerosol direct radiative forcing (ARF) was computed using Santa Barbara Discrete Ordinate Atmospheric Radiative Transfer (SBDART) model in the shortwave (SW) region (0.25–4.00 µm). The mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) and surface forcing come out to be –14.49 W m–2 and –53.29 W m–2 respectively in May. The mean net atmospheric radiative forcing (38.79 W m–2 maximum during May) corresponds to heating rate of ~1.06° K d–1 in the atmosphere.