Field Research Laboratory (FRL) was established in 1962 at Leh–Ladakh was the brainchild of the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The aim was to make the hostile terrain of the cold, arid desert of Ladakh reasonably green and make fresh food available to the troops deployed in the Ladakh sector. The Institute through its pioneering R&D efforts over the years has brought about perceptible qualitative and quantitative changes in agriculture, animal husbandry and the flora of Ladakh.
With time, the vision, mission and mandate of the laboratory have changed. Field Research Laboratory (FRL) has been renamed as Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) on 27 May 2008. The institute is one of its kinds in the world at an altitude of 3,500 m above MSL, having core competence in cold arid agro-animal technology. The institute has its research stations at Ranbirpura, Ladakh; Partapur, Siachen Sector; Base Laboratory in Chandigarh and the world's highest terrestrial R&D Centre at Changla, Ladakh.