ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Set Free

The quaint little hamlet of Dagshai, in the foothills of the Himalayas, boasts of India’s only other cellular jail, built during the British colonial era.

Nestled among emerald green deodar forests and pine knolls lies Dagshai, a quaint little garrison town in the foothills of the Himalayas, located atop a high hillock, which stands sphinx-like astride the Kalka–Simla highway at a point close to the industrial town of Solan. The little hamlet was established nearly a century and a half ago, in 1847, by the East India Company by securing, free of cost, five villages from the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, namely, Dabbi, Badhtiala, Chunawad, Jawag and Dagshai. The cantonment was named after the last-mentioned village, as it was the largest in size and apparently, strategically located. Legend has it that the name Dagshai was derived from Daag-e-Shahi. During Mughal times, a Daag-e-Shahi—or a royal mark—was stamped on the foreheads of criminals who were then sent packing to the then Dagshai village.

Apart from the geo-economic significance of this little hamlet, the British were enamoured by its beauty and pristine environment, overlooking a valley. It was built as a sanatorium for patients of tuberculosis, who would benefit from the fresh, clean, pine-scented air.

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