The Forest Research Institute, began in a small forest school at Dehradun in 1878 to impart training to forest rangers. In 1906 it became known as the Imperial Forest Research Institute located in Chand Bagh Estate. The objective was to “organize and lead forestry research in the country”. It also trained forest officers and rangers hence post Independence, it was renamed Forest Research Institute and Colleges. Since 1988, it operates under Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India. It received a ‘deemed university’ status in 1991.
The stunning Greco – Roman building was built by Sir CG Blomfield, is built on a plinth of 7 acres! In a campus of over 1235 acres, it stands out like a pearl. The building was completed in 7 years for Rs. 90 lakh, a huge sum when it was inaugurated on November 7, 1929, by Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India.
Many informed me that a Dehradun trip is absolutely incomplete without a visit to it and the small 5 museums inside it – and they were so right! The museums are of – Silviculture, timber, entomology, pathology and NWFP. The Silviculture museum, deals with the branch of science that is about the growing and cultivation of trees. It has been very well designed with a lot of interpretive inputs that engage the visitor to interact with the exhibits and think, was inaugurated in December 2017.
The other 4 museums designed in the British era with heavy display cases and handwritten labels, are equally interesting. There are numerous specimens of plants and insects from the entire Himalayan region, which have been meticulously collected, labeled and displayed with contextual references. I was fascinated by the range of products like ropes, baskets, furniture and textiles created from the fibre and yarn from the region’s plants.
These museums gave the feeling of walking through the entire Himalayan forests, and I had wonderful guides in my students who were pointing out their favourite objects to me. We stood there and imagined how life must have during the British era in the absorbing display of the types of wood through a specially created ‘Timber room’.
Thank you Forest Research Institute for preserving this place so well, for making it so approachable and accessible. Apparently, this place is a favourite spot for filmmakers and photographers. On weekends, crowds swarm the high brick arched corridors to get their pre – bridal and post marriage photo shoots, in the dramatic play of light and shadow.
Thank you my dear Foundation students of the School of Design, Doon University, for this lovely exposure. It’s so much fun to be taken around these old buildings from a different era with youngsters – so much for cultural appropriation and appreciation 🙂
All photos taken by me, the group where students are sitting in a group is by Manil, the sketches are made by Mohd Bilal, Manil and Harshit – foundation students, School of Design, Doon University, Dehradun 🙂