Forest Research Institute’s Architecture – A Photo Tour

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The one monumental and prestigious institute that has been synonymous with Dehradun for over a century now, has to be the massive colonial Forest Research Institute. 

I personally believe this is the only place that hasn’t seen much of a change over the year. My very first visit to the Doon valley a couple of decades back made me fall in love with this campus. Thanks to my maternal uncle who introduced me to this wonderful institute and its museums, that re-kindled in me an interest towards Life Sciences. So much so, that I opted for  Biology as one of my subjects of study at the Junior College and saw future prospects in it by opting for Applied Sciences in the Graduation course.

I was in awe of the architecture from the very beginning. During a recent trip to the #BNLF meet conducted by IndiBlogger at Dehradun, I squeezed out some time to visit the Forest Research Institute. I am glad the complex is being maintained, thanks to its National Heritage Status. Without wasting much time, let me quickly take you on a photo tour of the sprawling estate and the FRI building.

Note: It was a misty and cloudy morning on the day we visited the complex. The sun graced us, as we entered the building and loitered in the beautiful corridors. Nature blessed us with a short spell of rain while we were in awe of the main entrance near the convocation hall. All this in a span of 90mins that we spent inside the building. Thus, the snaps reflect varying hues of bricks and the building, owing to the peekaboo of the sun and the canopy of grey clouds!

A Photo Tour of the Forest Research Institute (FRI)Dehradun

Situated amidst lush greenery in a sprawling estate of almost 450 hectares, the Forest Research Institute’s colonial building is spell-binding. With the Himalayas as a backdrop, it presents its visitors with a perfect travel postcard from Dehradun. I am sure it looks spectacular with snow-covered peaks on a bright sunny-day during the Winters.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture

The Estate inside the FRI campus

We drove from the frontal entrance of the campus to the back and caught a glimpse of the beautiful estate, dotted with colonial cottages, that serve as the present day homes of various instructors and forest officers of the Forest Research Institute. These snaps were captured from the comforts of our car as it was drizzling.

FRI : Cottages

An Officer’s Guest house right in front of the back entrance of the FRI was literally straight out of a British novel! With chimneys popping out of the hip roof, it looked like a dream.

FRI : Officer's Guest House

The Mini Forest inside the Forest Research Institute Campus

The campus is also home to a mini forest and I was immediately transported to the various cantonment areas we have lived in. It is a perfect idea to take a stroll along these canopied roads with trees lined in an array!

FRI: Forest

The main FRI building

The main parking and the ticket counters are on the eastern side/back of the FRI building. Since we had no time for a tour of the museums and wanted to just visit the FRI for its architecture, we visited the place between 8:30-10:00 AM.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture

A Brief History

The FRI actually began as a small forest school at Dehradun in 1878 to impart training to forest rangers. This school, which was taken over by the Central Government in 1884 and named the Imperial Forest School, formed the nucleus of the present FRI. The history of the FRI is synonymous with the evolution and development of scientific forestry not only in India but also in the entire sub-continent.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Corridor

Forest Research Institute’s Architecture

Styled in a hybrid architecture of Greek, Roman and Colonial influences by C.G. Blomfield, the main building was inaugurated in 1929 by the then Viceroy Willingdon. The building is said to have taken seven years to complete and the cost was a whopping sum of about Rs90 lakh of those days!

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Inner courtyard

Blomfield had earlier worked with Edwin Lutyens on many projects in Delhi. Thus, the Lutyens’ touch to the Forest Research Institute’s architecture cannot be missed. In fact, I would say that the courtyards are archetypal of Indian and Oriental architecture, too. It is well known that apart from the Roman architects, the former architects also exhibited a penchant for central courtyards. The wall-less porticos are archetypal of the Roman architecture building plans.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Portico

The windows on the ground floor are huge and the ones on the first floor are smaller – a typical feature of colonial architecture. This is distinctly visible from the inner courtyards. Have a look at the picture below!

Forest Research Institute's Architecture: Central Courtyard

Coherent Symmetry

A distinct aspect of the British architecture was the wood and brick interiors that were often aligned in a symmetrical and rational layout. This is again a distinct aspect of the FRI interiors. Also, the arcaded and airy corridors radiate the Classical architectural form.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Corridors

There are six central courtyards, surrounded by wide corridors on all sides. These open to various museums, washrooms and official rooms.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Corridors

The FRI building houses six museums around these courtyards :

  • The Social Forestry Museum
  •  Pathology Museum
  •  Silviculture Museum
  •  Timber Museum
  • N.W.F.P. Museum and
  • The Entomology Museum.

Forest Research Institute;s Architecture

The FRI is said to be the only humongous structure in the world made entirely of bricks, at one time.The bricks and mortar used in the Forest Research Institute’s Architecture are arranged in repetitive patterns, accentuated and punctuated by moulding strips.

FRI : Travel blog

FRI Courtyards

The drain pipes look rust-free and intact. I am not sure if we get such quality pipes any longer!

Forest Research Institute

Forest Research Institute Travel blog

The main facade of the building is said to be almost 1,000 ft long.

FRI Facade

Wheat and other food crops are said to have been grown in front of the main FRI building, during the Second World War. I am sure the golden crop would have added its own hues to the Forest Research Institute’s architecture.

Forest Research Institute Blog

Did you know: It snowed in Dehradun in the year 1945 and the FRI premises had 3” of snowfall.

Dehradun Forest Research Institute's Architecture

The play of light and shadow owing to the hide-seek of the sun and a light rain brought out different hues of the brick facade. The sun was behind the tower when capturing the above picture.

Whereas, the below picture looks vibrant with red bricks due to the sunlight kissing the surface of the structure!

Dehradun Forest Research Institute's Architecture

Domed towers on both sides flank the central entrance /portico. The entrance leads to the Convocation hall with beautiful and elegant wooden interiors. Inside the Forest Research Institute campus is the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA). This is the staff college that trains officers selected for the Indian Forest Service (IFS). But, the convocation hall is inside the main FRI building.

FRI : Forest Research Institute at Dehradun

The pediment is again very typical of the classical architecture.

However, the triangular area enclosed inside the pediment known as the tympanum is plain and devoid of elaborate patterns.

Instead, some of them have an oval-shaped vent, covered with glass. I am sure a person with deep knowledge and mastery over various architectures would have shown an avid interest in the nuances of the Forest Research Institute’s architecture.His/Her explanation would be much more detailed.

Whereas, this photo tour is just through the lens of an avid lover of architecture!! 

Forest Research Institute's Architecture: Back Entrance

Few pointers

  • A bright sunny day is ideal to capture perfect photos of Forest Research Institute’s Architecture. Preferably, either during the sunset or just after sunrise!
  • The picturesque campus, buildings and the Forest Research Institute’s architecture has been a backdrop in various Indian movies like – Student of the Year,  Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, Paan Singh Tomar, Nanban, Krishna Cottage et al.
  • Apart from the courtyards, the fascinating places to capture the photographs are the corridors!

Just as we were at the exit and I was capturing the corridor with a bench, the Sun-God graciously blessed us by filling the otherwise dark corridors with shafts of rays thus imparting an orangish hue. Bliss!

Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Corridor

Responsible Travel

I love visiting such monumental structures of a bygone era. The visits help us to appreciate the connection that exists between architectural forms in our own time and those from the past.

So, let us not litter around on the premises when visiting.

As we discuss responsible tourism, do read about Carbon Offsetting here: Carbon Offsetting- Everything you need to know

In fact, during a stroll in the forest, I was appreciating the futuristic thinking of the architects in providing well laid out flood water drains across the estate and peeped into one. And, what I found was appalling!

Forest Research Institute Responsible TravelI leave you with this thought of being responsible for our environs. Below are a few more pictures of the beautiful Forest Research Institute of Dehradun.

Forest Research Institute's Architecture


Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Convocation Hall


Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Courtyard


Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Dome


Forest Research Institute's Architecture : Corridors

Let me know your thoughts on this photo tour of the Forest Research Institute’s Architecture.

How to reach the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun:
  • The campus is located on Chakrata Road in Dehradun.
  • Dehradun is the capital city of the Uttarakhand state.It is well connected to the train network. All major airlines fly to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport.
  • The holy towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh are in close proximity to Dehradun.
  • Dehradun can actually be covered as a day trip from either of the pilgrimage towns.
Timings of Visit:
  • The Museum is closed on weekends.
  • The Museum opens at 10:30 AM during the weekdays.
  • Though, the estate is open for walkers and joggers from early hours of the day.
  • It is highly advisable not to roam around alone inside the campus post sunset. Wild animals are said to prowl the area.

You may use the Guide map available on the FRI site

Forest Research Institute's Architecture

As I had mentioned earlier, I happened to re-visit Dehradun owing to the #BNLF meeting. If you are wondering what is #BNLF, then read on the wonderful narratives of the meet, penned by my friends on their blogs. The links are given below:

Kala’s Relax n Rave

Nibha’s Inkling Expressions

Shilpa’s Fingers Crossed

Saumy’s Bag

Happy Blog Hopping, folks 🙂

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  1. Cat Lin says:

    The buildings are so nicely preserved! I love the symmetry and design. It is a great place for those who love architecture and photography!

    1. Indeed it is great place for archilovers…Thanks for reading Cat!

  2. Yukti says:

    First of all, I must say that you have taken stunning photos of symmetrical corridors with those arches. Forest Research Institute which has a lot of colonial influence is really worth visiting and I loved its courtyards, corridors and Lutyen’s style of architecture in it. Good to know many facts about this place like the growth of wheat crop during Second World War and all IFS officers are trainer here.

  3. the campus grounds looks like a palace with the gorgeous brickwork across the arches and long corridors. Love the guest house which truly looks so British and looks like the main residence. Thanks for the rmeinder about no littering and responsible travel!

  4. Your article brought my childhood memories back when we used to go to Dehradun for holidays and visit Forest Research Institute. It’s a great place to go for quiet walks, explore nature, colonial architecture and those lovely six museums. I had completely forgotten that it snowed there in 1945.

    1. Thanks Archana.Glad, I could re-kindle those childhood memories of yours.

  5. This place, indeed, looks dreamy. And that Officer Guest House – straight out of a Jane Austen novel!! When in college, I had a couple of friends whose parents worked here. And they would sing praises of this place. I could never understand then. But now I do. After reading through your post and looking at those pictures, I now have a serious itch to get there as soon as possible.

    1. You should visit the place before it is gone to rapid urbanisation in that region. Glad you liked the post,Soumya!

  6. Paula says:

    Stunning place! Those wall and plants give so many photo opst, it would take a me a day just to walk around and take pictures. And not to even mention the museums. So many museums on the campus! Can you visit all of them in one day? This sounds like a great place to spend a day, maybe bring a picnic and enjoy the life!

    1. Oh..yes.All the museums could be easily covered in a day.And, as you said it is a beautiful place for a picnic!

  7. Daniel says:

    I haven’t heard about this place before but I’m glad you wrote about it. Your photos of the Forest Research Institute look absolutely amazing! Any building that hosts six museums must be nothing short of spectacular. I would love to visit someday.

  8. I think you have a winning photograph – the corridor with the blue bench in the foreground. It’s simply stunning and I love the composition of that picture. I’m also a sucker for brickwork, so I love the picture of the circular pattern in the underside of the roof! One of the benefits of having the sun play peekaboo is the variety of shots you can get with the lighting!

  9. Your photos have captured the beautiful architecture of the Forest Research Institute. Even with the sun playing tricks, you got some great shots. I especially love the photo of the corridor with the contrasting blue bench. And such a shame that people throw out their plastics without care. Visitors should really leave no trace.

    1. Thanks and glad that you liked the captures,Annick 🙂

  10. oh lovely pics

    1. Thank you 🙂

  11. wow!!! wow!! wow!! That’s the only thing I can say! It was a lovely trip there in Dehradun and your beautiful pictures just brought the memories back in abundance!

  12. Stunning images and captivating photo tour! 🙂

  13. Meenakshi such lovely pictures!!!! Awesome clicks..

  14. Lovely pictures, Meenakshi. Many interesting information that I missed during my visit you have mentioned it here so it was a virtual revisit.

  15. Stunning photo-log Meenakshi! You literally took me through a virtual tour with detailed explanation and wonderful clicks accompanying it. It was a visual treat 🙂

  16. stunning pictures and a well documented article on the majestic F.R.I.. Dehradun is my hometown and your article has made mw feel nostalgic!

  17. Splendid coverage of this magnificient structure Meenu. You have covered every aspect pertaining to this building from history to filmistan links! I think it is one of the few buildings that has been well-maintained. Hope people take pride in this heritage structure and give it the importance it deserves. Wonderfully written and brilliantly captured!

  18. Lovely! I have lived very close to this institute – way back in the late 80s, when my father was posted at IMA – Dehradun. I again visited it last year – wonder why I have not written about it so far. Beautiful clicks – the credit goes to both you and the architect.

  19. That is a building worth visiting. Was there last year when one of my husband’s friends took us there. I’m in love with those arched long corridors. 🙂

  20. Such stunning pictures. Absolutely loved the one which has that blue bench in the foreground.
    Did you say it snowed in Dehradun? My cousin has a bed-and-breakfast unit and we were there a few years back in the summer and we needed ACs. It was that hot. Almost like the plains.
    And six museums? Seems like we’d need plenty of time to go through this one.

  21. I can imagine how awe inspiring this visit must have been. I could look at these pictures for ages.

  22. The building is truly a marvel with the backdrop of mussorie hills. I love everything about FRI. Nicely composed 😊

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