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A Visit to the Dagshai Jail Museum in Solan

Written By: Siji Ram

Dagshai is one of the oldest cantonment towns, located in Solan of Himachal Pradesh. The town has a cellular jail, which is today a museum. It is also interesting to know that Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Our Nation, has spent a day in this jail! Come, let's take a virtual tour of Dagshai.

Dagshai jail museum was earlier a British prison. The structure has 54 maximum cellular cells, out of which 16 cells were used for severe punishments. These cells were hardly ventilated and there was no source for natural light.

The jail

The jail at Dagshai

One special cell was kept for the extreme punishments. This cell has three doors, which are around 3ft apart. Once the prisoner enters the cell through one door, the other door is closed, making movement restricted for the prisoner. Due to the lack of space, the prisoner would be forced to stand. This was one of the harsh punishments for challenging the British Empire.

Dagshai is believed to derive its name from the term Daag-e-Shahi (royal mark). The accused were given a royal mark on their forehead using hot iron rods before they were sent to Dagshai for imprisonment.

When the Irish freedom fighters were imprisoned, Mahatma Gandhi had visited the place and stayed there a day to give moral support to the Irish soldiers. Gandhiji was a good friend of the Irish leader Eamon de Valera. This was also one of the major incidents that inspired the Indian Independence movement.

The railway station

The Dagshai railway station
Photo Courtesy: Utcursch  

Today, the museum is well maintained by the Himachal Tourism Department and the Brigade Commander of that region. It is the second only jail museum in India after the Andaman Island Cellular Jail. The museum has photographs, artefacts, artillery equipment and other exhibits related to the history of India.

During your visit, you can go back to times of pre-independence of India and get an insight into the harsh treatment that prisoners were given during those times. The details of each cell are mentioned on title boards here. The struggle that our freedom fighters went through to preserve our land is something you won't miss on a visit to this jail museum.

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