Yoga at Forest Research Institute triggers nostalgia, pride and joy
City-based photographer Abhishek Bishnoi, who has seen and shot the famed building umpteen times said, the event has “magnified the glory” of the iconic FRI.Updated: Jun 21, 2018 22:18 IST
The Raj-era Forest Research Institute here may have been chosen just as a backdrop for the Yoga Day celebrations, but when Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed asanas with over 50,000 enthusiasts on its sprawling campus on Thursday, this heritage landmark took centre stage.
A veritable symbol of the city, the FRI hosting the mega event this year, has triggered nostalgia, pride and unalloyed joy among the people hailing from the Uttarakhand capital, while arousing curiosity in the minds of the uninitiated.
City-based photographer Abhishek Bishnoi, who has seen and shot the famed building umpteen times said, the event has “magnified the glory” of the iconic FRI.
“As a Dehradun resident, it is a moment of great pride and joy that the city hosted the grand event, at none other than the FRI, perhaps the most famous building of our city.
“PM Modi coming and taking part in the programme here on a such a large-scale will translate to greater awareness about this heritage, as images will be consumed over and over again by people on TV, online portals, and social media,” he told PTI.
It will trigger greater interest among people to visit the place and stoke curiosity of people living somewhere in Bihar or Andhra Pradesh and other states, who may not have heard of it, said Bishnoi, who is also part of local heritage club ‘Been There, Doon That’.
The FRI has its roots in the erstwhile Imperial Forest Research Institute established in 1906 to organise and lead forestry research in the country. Its history is synonymous with the evolution and development of scientific forestry not only in India but in the entire Indian subcontinent.
Built over a lush green estate spread over nearly 450 acres, the exposed-brick structure has gentle pedimented white columns in the facade with two mid-sized turrets on its slanting roof, adding to its Edwardian neoclassical grace.
The iconic building, its famed corridor and the verdant campus, home to some of the finest flora and fauna, have been showcased in many films and commercial advertisements, notably being ‘Student of the Year’, ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ and ‘Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein’.
Delhi-based conservation architect Aishwarya Tipnis said, “The FRI was functioning from the campus of the present Doon School until the current campus was built in the 1920s. Doon School itself is an exposed-brick structure.”
Tipnis, who has worked on the restoration of Doon School buildings, said, “Heritage buildings go a long way in reinforcing the identity of a town or a city, they form a part of the collective memory, and such events are definitely a good way of bringing a spotlight on them, especially for small towns.”
US-based software professional Indira Negi who was born and raised in Dehradun, said, she misses her “lovely hometown and the charming FRI every day”.
“Always loved the peace that the FRI grounds provided. It’s a refuge from the chaos of the city. And, therefore, a perfect place for doing yoga. It is a symbol for Doon and a matter of pride for us, along with IMA and others heritage buildings in the city,” she said.
The Indian Military Academy (IMA) campus housing the famous Chetwode Building, featured in film ‘Lakshya’, adjoins the FRI premises and they together form two grand architectural heritage landmarks of Dehradun.
Negi says her mother teaches at a school in the FRI campus and she reached the venue at close to 4 AM to take part in the Yoga Day celebrations. “My mom had sent us pictures of the preparations, she was very excited about it,” she said.
Negi, however is a little wary of one thing. “I hope this new-found fame won’t lead to littering and overcrowding at this beautiful place.”
Manoj Singh Rana, who teaches at a local university, said, he also felt that it was a good move to host the event in a comparatively small-town, like Dehradun.
“Yoga Day should be certainly held in other small towns too like Allahabad, Kanpur and Patna, so that heritage of those places can be highlighted,” he said.
An excited Bishnoi, after the event said, “I saw the images, and FRI looked majestic as usual. Now, for International Yoga Day too, we can say ‘Been there, Doon that’.”