Surprised by Dehradun

Discovered the green ambience of Vishranti Resort and many plants at the Forest Research Institute

Dehradun by shivanjan (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dehradun by Shivanjan (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Words: Ambica Gulati

Why am I suddenly writing on Dehradun? I recently saw a video of MS Dhoni with his daughter for a campaign on life insurance and I travelled back a few years, when he was not married. I was working with Swagat (Air India’s in-flight magazine was named that then) and invited for a weekend stay at the Vishranti Resort. Little did I know that soon this resort would be hosting the wedding of the famous cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and soon be among the Page 3 destinations.

Ideally located, away from the hustle bustle of the main town, Vishranti is where green is the word. The farm had many exotic birds and a gym too. Farm to fork was how the food was. Vegetables grew right there and were just plucked and this was my first farmstay vacation.

Cows were milked morning and evening and lemon trees lined the many areas. Bicycling was the best way to explore the neighbourhood, I think I need to go back for this. Bags parked in our huge suite with room for children and a housekeeper, we went about exploring places we had access to. It didn’t include the famous Indian Military Academy.

Vishranti resort; Photo courtesy: http://vishranti-doon-valley-spa-resort-dehradun.ibooked.in/
Vishranti resort; Photo courtesy

There are many institutions in that area such as the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy(IGNFA), Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Survey Of India, Forest Research Institute, Indian Institute of Petroleum.

Forest Research Institute
We had promised ourselves a ‘green, smooth holiday’ without the stress of too many activities. So, Forest Research Institute being the closest and the greenest, it was best to begin our journey there. On our way, our guide told us that dun means the land at the foot of the mountains. This is also the land where Guru Drona built his Dronashram. In the nearby village of Devara, he did his spiritual practices.

It was a green drive to the parking area. Tall trees and the impressive Greco-Roman and Colonial style building left us a spellbound. We had expected some boring government structure but this building is a national heritage, the locals said. The land is lush and estate has a variety of trees spread over 450 hectares. The Himalaya form the back drop. Guided by the signs and the people around us, we came to know that the Institute has equipped laboratories, library, herbarium, arboreta, printing press and experimental field areas for conducting forestry research. It is one of the large forest training institutes in the country.

The roots for this world acclaimed institute can be traced to 1878 when it opened as the British Imperial Forest School by Dietrich Brandis. Later, in 1906, the British Imperial Forestry Service renamed it as the Imperial Forest Research Institute. In 1938, Indian Forest College was established.

Walking slowly, enjoying the green view and the tall trees, the tall pillars, we moved towards the Botanical Museum. This has six sections–Pathology Museum, Social Forestry Museum, Silviculture Museum, Timber Museum, Non-Wood Forest Products Museum and Entomology Museum. If you are a nature lover, then this is the place to begin your nature education.

Little samples and notes marked each glass table and box. A short note on preservation, problems and solutions was with each sample. We discovered the trunk of a 700-year-old tree in the museum. Other interesting items were tree cutting/deforestation tools, education on fungus attack on forest products, how rubber is extracted and even a gum sample. There were sections on herbs used for medicinal purposes.

Famous rusks
The sun was setting and we were ready for a cup of tea and a bite of the famous rusk of Dehradun. Sunrise rusks, said our guide. No one was able to tell me why it was so famous and if it was baked in some special way, but it was certainly the most crisp and fresh rusk. We got three huge packets of this saunf rusk in two shapes–round and long.

More to see
The green, stress buster weekend was coming to an end but there was a plan for another weekend plan to see the Robber’s Cave, locally known as Guchhupani. This river cave formation is about 8km from Dehradun city centre. Our guide also recommended the Mindrolling Monastery which promotes Buddhism and Tibetan culture. This time, I guess I need to plan a little better to see the green sides at a leisure pace.

How to reach
There are trains, buses from Delhi to Dehradun (209km). One can drive also. Or you could go by air too from Indira Gandhi Airport to Jolly Grant.

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