One of the oldest British Cantonments in the region, Dagshai was first established as a jail town where the British sent prisoners for capital punishment. Such was the significance of being sent to the town, that it was often regarded as a “Royal Stain”, or “Daag-e-Shahi” as known in Hindi, thus becoming the name of the town itself. Home to two prominent schools – The Army Public School, Daghsai and The Dagshai Public School, the town has some key spots to engage tourists, including the Dagshai Central Jail & Museum, The Old Church, The Cemetery and numerous Sunset points along the winding roads of the town.
Best Time To Visit
Given the proximity of Dagshai to the Punjab, Haryana and the National Capital Region of Delhi, quick getaways from these places make weekends, throughout the year, an ideal time to visit Dagshai. In terms of weather, while Summers are often regarded as the best time to visit the Himalayas, the low lying nature of the place means Winters are often called the best time to visit Dagshai.
One of the most significant places of interest in the region, The Dagshai jail museum is a now-closed prison established by the British. One of the oldest cantonments in the Solan district of Himachal, the prison was inhabited by people given capital punishment by the erstwhile powers that were. Today, the Jail is one of the only such open museums in the country apart from Kalapani - the Cellular Jails in the Andamans.
Hosting its holy masses every Sunday at 10 am, the St. Patrick’s R.C. Church belongs to the society of Shimla Chandigarh Catholic Diocese. Located alongside the core cantonment area, this heritage church was the first Garrison Church, built in Dagshai by Irish soldiers in 1852 A.D with the help of an architect known to use gothic-inspired designs.
While Dagshai is often noted by the haunted ghost town of Himachal, given the history associated with the jail and the fact that terminal Tuberculosis patients were sent to the town for their final days, the only such place that comes close to the notion of Dagshai as a haunted town is the Old Cemetery or graveyard build in a land overlooking the valley.
A narrow gauge, or as popularly called, a toy train ride through the lower Himalayan ranges gives travellers the most scenic splendour inarea. The Kalka-Shimla Toy Train is one of the three such train networks still functioning in India, the other two in ooty and Darjeeling . You can travel by taxi to the Dharampur railway station (5 Km ) or board the train up at the Barog Heritage station.
Located 14 Kms from Dagshai, Kasauli is a small cantonment and another popular tourist destination for weekend travellers from Delhi and Chandigarh. Nestled amidst woody forests of pine and cedar trees this small town has lavish Victorian buildings build by British who resided here in time gone by. With a moderate climate, Kasauli provides enchanting serenity and is often described as a hiker’s paradise.
About 27 Km from Dagshai is the state capital and one of the most popular hill stations of the country – Shimla. On a day trip to Shimla from Dagshai, you can visit The Mall Road, The Viceroy’s Castle, The Old Townhall or eat out at the numerous bakeries peppered around the town. The Mall road is also connected to the Ridge at the Scandal point, where a statue of the nationalist leader LalaLajpatRai has been erected.