Dagshai - A Mughal time Village with British Cemeteries
As you enter the hills from Kalka, to drive towards Shimla, after about 30 kilometres, comes a place called Kumarhatti. A number of roads branch of towards different directions. The road that forms a hairpin bend to its right, winds up to Dagshai. Although the village Dagshai is about seven kilometres uphill from here but the Kumarhatti Dagshai railway station receives its family name from it. Purposely this railway station was built to serve the cantonment and to provide it with its own railway base.
Dagshai is one of the places in the hills that saw many ups and downs but still is as beautiful as it should be. The modern development has not been able to spoil it and it still maintains its old ambience and its charming look. The cantonment plays a major role in its protection from the encroachers. Thanks to Indian Army.
The Mughal Affect
There are total five villages on this hill- Dabbi, Bughtiala, Chunawag, Jawag and Dagshai. The cantonment was named after the last named village due to its vast area and the most strategic location. The legend says that the name comes from the Mughal era when the prisoners were sent here and were placed the impression of the Royal Stamp called Daag – e – Shahi, on their forehead. That time it used to be a remote region in the hills from where it was impossible for the prisoners to run away.
The British influence
But the motive of the British was to keep a watch on the problematic Gurkhas from the hills invaders from the plains and the other areas. As per the requirement they set up the infrastructure to get the regiment settled. They built offices, quarters, parade grounds, a hospital, a school and also got it connected with roads to the plains. A Church was also constructed for service and a dairy farm to meet the supplies of milk of the area.
Apart from this there are two cemeteries in Dagshai which have graves dating from 1857 till the first war. Although it is mentioned outside both the grave yards that they are maintained by the army but many of the graves are wretched. A few of them were recently restored by Commonwealth War Grave Association. It is a pity to see many of them having lost their respective stones with the inscriptions. Some of them have their cross lying away from them and it is difficult to associate them to their respective graves.
In 1849 a jail was built here that had a different architecture than any other building in the cantonment. During the Mutiny in 1857 some rebellions were put into this jail, but actually this jail became famous in 1920 when the Irish prisoners had revolted against the Imperial Government.
Accommodation in Dagshai
Dagshai does not offer any accommodation for the tourist but it can easily be found in close proximity of the area. A day trip from Kasauli or on the way to Shimla can be planned. The nearest accommodation units are found in Dharampur – the budget class hotels or Kasauli – middle calss hotels.
There are a few areas where the entry is prohibited due to the presence of the army. It is best to park your vehicle and walk around the area and have the actual feel of it. Listen to the silence and follow its instructions.
Visit the Cemeteries, the Church and the open area. At many places you would be stopped by the army soldiers and they politely inform you the right path to follow.