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 off in 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. The Kumarhatti Dagshai railway station receives its family name from it. Purposely the British built this railway station 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 the Indian Army.

The Mughal Affect of Dagshai

There are five villages on this hill- Dabbi, Bughtiala, Chunawag, Jawag and Dagshai. The cantonment receives its name from the village due to its vast area and strategic location. The legend says that the name comes from the Mughal era. At that time the Mughals sent their prisoner to this remote hill. As a punishment, they would mark their Royal Stam – Daag-e-Shai, on their forehead. It was impossible for the prisoner to run away. From Daag-e-Shai, the name came as Dagshai.

Cemetery in Dagshai cantonment have a number of Brits buried in them.

The British Cemeteries in Dagshai

But the motive of the British was to keep a watch on the problematic Gurkha invaders from the hills invaders from the plains and 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, a Church, a dairy farm, and a road to the plain. Apart from this, there are two cemeteries in Dagshai which have graves dating from 1857 till the first war. The army maintains the graves but many of them have lost their real appearance. Commonwealth War Grave Association recently restored a few of them. 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.

Cells in the Jail in Dagshai

A Prison in Dagshai

In 1849 the British built a jail in Dhagshai to keep the rough soldiers. It has a unique architecture like many other buildings in the cantonment and is built in Tee shape. In its 54 cells, they kept many prisoners at different times. During the Mutiny in 1857, they put many rebellions into this jail. It earned some more fame in 1920 when the Irish prisoners revolted against the Imperial Government. Presently it is not used as a prison but is converted into a museum. This is the second jail museum in the country, the first being the cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Also next to it, there is a museum that explains the number of tourists who come and visit this place.

Accommodation in Dagshai

Dagshai does not offer any accommodation for the tourist but around it, on the lower road, there are a number of hotels and guest houses. You can also visit this place from Kasauli on a day trip. There are a few areas where entry is prohibited due to the army’s presence. 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, the army will stop you and they politely inform you of the right path to follow.

Entry gate to a cemetery in Dagshai

Weather of Dagshai

Dagshai stands at an elevation of around 1800 meters above mean sea level. Like many other hill stations, majorly it has four wethers. Spring, Summer, Monsoon, and Winter. Autumn comes mildly but not much. During the monsoon, the floating clouds and mist give an eerie effect to the visitors. Summer is pleasant and one can enjoy the cool air while walking through the vast area of Dagshai.

By. . . . . . . Sumit Raj

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