Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Dagshai was derived from Daagh-e-Shahi; during the Moghul times, a Daagh-e-Shahi (high mark) was put on the forehead of the criminals and sent packing to Dagshai village. Dagshai is 28.4 km(approx) from Spencer restaurant, situated on the top of a high hillock astride the Kalka-Shimla highway. Collecting myself after a sumptuous lunch, I drove to a tiny cantonment, also known as Daag-e-shahi. One of the oldest cantonments in the Salon district of Himachal Pradesh, founded in 1847 by East India Company by securing accessible five villages from Maharaja of Patiala. These villages were Dabbi, Badhtiala, Chunawad, Jawag, and Dagshai, & the cantonment was named after the last town, as it was the most spacious and most strategically located. 

Dagshai Railway Station

Reaching Dagshai, the first thing to visit is the Dagshai Jail, which was constructed in 1849. This Jail came into the limelight as several Irish freedom fighters were executed there—prompting Mahatma Gandhi to rush to an on-spot assessment of the situation. This Jail is a T-shaped structure with a high ceiling and wooden flooring. It has 54 cells; 11 were converted into staff accommodation, and out of the balance, 43; 27 cells were called healthy cells & 16 cells were for solitary confinement. Historical facts state four revolutionaries of the Komagata Maru incident were also executed at Dagshai. The Jail is currently converted into a museum for the commoners.

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Dagshai Jail

Alongside the Jail is an old church built in gothic style by an Irish soldier in 1852 A.D. It was the first garrison church famous for its colonial architecture. The area is surrounded by thick pine and oak trees, adding another charm. There is also a graveyard overlooking the valley, which carries its history dating back to 1920. Dozens of Scottish mutineers were incarcerated at Dagshai Prison in British service in 1920. On 2 November 1920, mutineer leader James Daly – a 21-year-old, was shot by a firing squad in the prison courtyard, the last member of the British Forces to be executed for mutiny. He was buried at the Dagshai graveyard until 1970. 

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
St Angelica Church

The silence of this place speaks volumes of the pain, suffering, and torture of mutineers. Later, the Britishers used the area as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Dagshai has a breathtaking scenic view & historical treasures. It’s said you do not praise a day before the sunset, as it’s a delight to photographers. Clutching my camera, we drove to Choor Chandani peak, 15.2 km(approx), for Dagshai. The hill is situated 3,650 m above sea level, surrounded by pine trees; it’s known as the Choordhar Mountains because it gives an impression of various silver bangles sliding down the slope of the mountain on a moonlit night. 

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Choor Chadani peak

It’s an ideal destination for photographers, Trekkers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure lovers, and the place boasts impressive views. We sat down, absorbing the beauty of nature, as the sunsets and thin strips of clouds on the horizon changed vivid colours. It fascinated my eye, and I captured them through my lens. After a long expedition, our tiredness engulfed us in a deep sleep once we hit the bed post-dinner.

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal

The next day post breakfast, when I was planning the day, my mom declared she wanted to visit Shimla Kalibadi & Jakhoo valley. You cannot argue with your mother, so we drove to Shimla. Shimla is 54.6 km(approx) from Barog; we got to enjoy blue skies, spring breezes, and lush greenery throughout the way. It was Holika Dahan, an auspicious day for Hindus, and we were blessed to see 180 degrees of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas from Shimla. We must walk down, as no vehicle is allowed on Mall road. Shimla Kalibadi is dedicated to Goddess Kali, Shyamala, and was built in 1845. The name of Goddess Shyamala that from where Shimla derives its name. The Kalibari temple was primarily located on Jakhoo hill, but the British brought it to its current site.

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Shimla Kali Bari

After attending the noon, Aarti before the temple was closed for Bhog. We offered our prayers & took blessings from Ma kali. And moved to Jakhoo Temple, 2.2km (approx) from Kalibadi, so we decided to walk. Jakhoo temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Hanuman. According to the Ramayana, Hanuman stopped to rest while searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshmana. It is situated on Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest peak, at 2,455 m above sea level.

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Jakoo Temple

A giant 108-foot-high idol of Hanuman stands tall on the hills, overlooking the city of Shimla. This hilltop offers spectacular views of the Shivalik mountain range and is home to a large colony of monkeys. The temple is accessible by foot; an adventure enthusiast can trek up the hill; however, the climb is quite steep in places, or takes a pony ride from Mall road; or a taxi (Rs 400/per person both ways) from the ridge. Recently, an aerial ropeway (555/per person both ways) – the Jahku Ropeway Shimla, takes you from The Ridge to the Jahku Temple in just 6 minutes.

The Shivalik Range

We took the forest hill road to the ridge, which was a 30min walk. The tall pine & cedar trees were overhanging the road, sunlight streaming through the leaves, and my soul strums to the rhythm of pure bliss in this wilderness. Reaching the ridge, we took a taxi to the temple, offered prayers & took blessings. Way back to Barog, we bought golden apples for home.

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Forest Hill Road

When we reached our hotel, it was late evening, the moon was abnormally large & it bathed the earth with its luminous glow. Then mom reminded me it was Purnima. Clouds drifted away from a full moon, drenching my balcony with soft lunar light. We sat for a while listening to music & soaking ourselves in the moonlit night. Later that night, we ordered the local cuisine of Himachal for dinner. Before leaving the town tomorrow, I wanted to visit the Grave of Barog, so I slept early. 

Dagshai: Hidden Heritage of Himachal
Full Moon View

It’s Holi today; the sun rose in a pool of crimson and gold, spilling light all over the land with the white clouds. On the occasion of the colourful festival, calls started coming in from family & friends. Amidst the wishes, we packed & got ready to leave for Gurgaon. The Grave of Barog was 0.7 km (approx) from our hotel, so we decided to walk down. Barog, who failed to construct the longest tunnel due to his miscalculation, was cremated near the incomplete tunnel after committing suicide. The Grave of Barog is surrounded by a garden, which is well-maintained and beautifully manicured. The surrounding is scenic & calm, with a station building of Scottish architecture. We walked back to our hotel & drove back to Gurgaon.

The grave of Barog

Serenity and the city are two diametrically opposite concepts, which, however, get belied in this ‘beautiful town’, Barog. 

How To Reach Barog

By Air

The nearest airport is Shimla Airport, which is well connected with the major cities & cabs are available to reach Barog. The distance from here is 61km.

By Rail

Barog has its small railway station in the Solan district- on UNESCO World Heritage Site Kalka–Shimla Railway. The next railway station will be in Chandigarh. It further connects the town with other major cities in India.

By Road

 You can opt for a road journey to reach Barog directly. Since it’s well connected with the major cities. It is located around 300 km from Delhi & 340 km from Gurgaon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »
error: Content is protected !!