In the arms of Shivalik hills, breathes an old cantonment whose legends and fables would make Goosebumps appear on your skin. Dagshai, a town where history echoes; where every turn opens a door to a new story; and where our life seems insignificant.
According to local folks, the name of this town is derived from; ‘Daag-E-Shahi’, an Urdu phrase. During, the Mughal reign, the criminals were punished by branding their forehead with a hot iron rod after which they were moved to Dagshai town to serve their punishment.
Take a stroll towards the past and creates memories to cherish in your future.
Dagshai Heritage Museum
Dagshai Heritage Museum is the priceless diamond gracing the Dagshai crown. Situated in the centre of the town, this heritage building is divided into two parts- a museum and the Jail.
The museum mirrors the glorifying and tragic history of Dagshai. Its walls are adorned with several photographs that perfectly capture the different shades of the town depicting story of mother and her unborn child, legend of the Pieper tune, Mahatma Gandhi’s hasty visit to the jail, execution of Private James Daly by a fire squad and a man whose tombstone was the reason of his own death. These tales would never fail to amaze you.
The jail is the door to the past. When you walk into the Jail, the beautiful flowers paths welcoming you perfectly hides the dark history awaiting inside.
This T-shaped structure was established in the year, 1849 and was designed in such a way that the prisoners every effort to escape cease to be successful. The floors of the jail were made of teak woods seasoned for anti-termite so that every movement of the prisoners could be heard by the on-duty guards and each cell were guarded by specially casted iron alloys so that prisoners couldn’t easily cut them. The jail has 27 common cells and 16 solitary confinement cells.
It’s cold and dark inside. Your footsteps echoes and when you ran a hand through the walls, a shiver would run down your spine. One of these 27 confinement cells belongs to a most famous assassin, Nathuram Godse and the last prisoner in Dagshai Jail.
“God bless those souls who lived here”, was our first statement when we read about the punishments served by the prisoners. To discipline the prisoners, they were made to stand between two locked door for hours.
If this punishment was not enough, then the prisoners were thrown into confinement cells. Total 16 such confinement cells were built without any access to natural light and ventilation.
The moment you step out of the Jail, to an open area, you would feel different. It’s sunny, it calm, yet it’s tragic. Somewhere in the corner, you could hear a silent plea of the prisoner. You could hear the sound of hammer, moulding the hot iron to brand a new prisoner.
The tree stood tall, the spectator of an era and an efficient secret-keeper. It is the witness of a history, a calm listener to tragic cries and a shelter to the tired prisoners. We sat in front of the tree, trying to decipher the stories of the past, but it stood mum. And here we are, enchanted by its haunting beauty. It has become a part of our shadow.
Opening Time: The museum is opened all days of the weeks except Monday from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM and from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
The Tale Of An English Lady
“Mary Rebecca Weston, died at Dagshai, 10 December 1909 and our unborn baby.”, reads the tombstone of a woman with a baby on the lap of an elf, showering in her blessings. It was a beautifully designed tombstone that depicts a heart-wrenching fairy tale. According to local folks, Mary Rebecca once came across a Pir, who looked at her face and predicted that she is unhappy because she is childless and gave her an amulet. Few nights, later, Mary Rebecca dreamt of an angel who told her that she would soon carry a child in her womb; however, forbidden her to share the news with anyone otherwise a tragedy would occur. Mary Rebecca couldn’t hide her excitement from her husband and as per the words of the Angel, a tragedy befell on the family; Mary Rebecca died with a child in her womb.
It was one of the most beautiful tombstones; however, destroyed by the local superstition. Many local believed that if any woman posses a marble from the tombstone, she would be blessed by a baby boy. Today, Mary Rebecca cradles her baby and sleep peacefully on the lap of an elf, damaged beyond recognization, protected by iron rods all around her.
Note: We didn’t take any photograph of the cemetery or tombstone because we didn’t want to disturb the dead.
An Escape To Peace
“And on his feet lies my destiny. My saviour, my friend, my guide, my God.” On the land of doomed history, stands one of the oldest churches in North-India, St. Patrick RC church. This beautiful church was established in 1852 AD with a cost of INR 5,030 which was contributed by Irish soldiers from their salaries.
Its architecture reflects Victoria era, it’s wooden interior gracefully makes the time stand still; Virgin Mary and Jesus would heal your wounds. You would find peace here like no other place; when you would bow down in front of the God surrendering yourself, tears would escape your eyes and in your heart, you will feel blessed. God is everywhere; but there are some places, where he awaits his children to showers his love.
Trails From Parwanoo To Dagshai
Dagshai is 26.9 Km from Parwanoo via Shimla-Kalka road. The roads are curvy and bumpy guarded by stubborn hills on one side and green-lush valley on the other.
Caution: Be gentle on the curves, men are working on them.
We would like to express our gratitude towards the soldiers of Assam Regiment and the locals for being so cooperative and supportive. A special token of gratitude to the vendor near Dagshai Heritage Museum, for the amazing Maggie, Omelete and Tea to satisfy our hunger, for guiding us in the city and for taking care of our luggage. You all have made the trip memorable.
Our history was once someone’s life!