Dagshai Jail Museum



Dagshai Jail Museum

Dagshai Jail Museum


A British era jail used as a  dump yard post independence, was converted into a museum in 2011. It is also unique in that it is only the second of its kind in India, the first being the Cellular jail in the Andamans

Dagshai jail, set up in 1849 has played host to several shades of soldier convicts. Gorkha soldiers of the Nasiri Regt (1857), revolutionaries from the ship ‘Komagatamaru’ (1914), 12 Indian soldier – sympathizers of the Ghadar movement (1915) & Irish Catholic soldiers of the ‘Connaught Rangers ‘who mutinied against their British officers (1920).

James Daly the best known of them all was executed here.

When Mahatma Gandhi visited Dagshai to meet with Irish mutineers he had stayed in a cell inside the jail. Legend has it that his assassin Nathuram Godse too was briefly incarcerated here before being taken for trial to the High Court in Simla.

Bust:Maj.Udai Singh

prototype of the bust

Distinguished Alumni In progress art work.  APS Dagshai

Distinguished Alumni
In progress art work.
APS Dagshai

The museum is the brainchild of its curator Dr. Anand Sethi, a local resident who researched & contributed most of the exhibits including archival photographs from his private collection. A prized display is a pair of bellows that were used by iron smiths to make chains and handcuffs. Its museum value 50,000 pounds today. More material continues to be sourced from Ireland, UK & Nepal.

Dr Sethis’ initiative fortunately, was complemented by the vision & foresight of the then Brigade commander Brig Ananth Narayanan. The army has since been closely involved with the project

Dr & Mrs Sethi

Dr & Mrs Sethi

On a clear bright day we stroll through the two sections of the museum, the Dagshai Jail which contains 54 maximum-security prison cells and an exhibit area that displays archival photographs of the jail and around.

Most of the cells do not have sufficient ventilation or natural light. There is only one VIP cell with the luxury of a fireplace and washroom. This is where the Mahatma had stayed when he came to commiserate with Irish prisoners with whom he felt a especial empathy & bond. Strange as it may sound Ireland & India had much in common, most important being their struggle for freedom against the same colonial master. Making common cause was a subtle political message sent out to the powers that were.

The exhibit area showcases the history of the region. There are photographs of soldiers, forgotten heroes and of the writer Rudyard Kipling, who wrote ‘Plain Tales From the Hills’ here.

APS Dagshai Bust unveiled 29/04/2014

APS Dagshai Udais’Bust  29.04.2014

The newest addition is the picture – citations of late Maj Udai Singh SC, SM, first battalion the Parachute Regt. Udai had spent the formative years of his life as a student of APS (1988 – 1992), the school a stones throw away from the museum.

Today his Bust adorns the main school square & the children have permission to walk to the museum as often as they like.

That being the Principals’ order.


*The museum is located at Dagshai cantonment, less than 2 kms from Dharampur on NH 22 going towards Simla. It is closed on Mondays & opens Tuesday – Sunday 09.30 – 12.30 & 14.30 –  17.30


The land of Kuru

DSC00122Bronze – Krishna & Arjuna  on the chariot ( 60’ long/ 35’ high) Along the banks of Brahma Sarovar


DSC00166Bhadrakali temple – one of the 51 shaktipithas. Horses made of clay are traditionally offered here.

DSC00113Brahma Sarovar

DSC00143Ladies bathing area on the ghats

“Where next?”

“ To Kurushetra”

Eyebrows go up quizzically.

I must confess to having some preconceived notions myself. Eventually reduced to pulp as it turns out.

Past NH1 & less than 4 hours from the national capital, Kurushetra comprises an area covering 48 Kos, one Kos roughly equivalent to a mile & a half.

Myths & legends associated with the place go back several centuries BC. Not only is it a revered Hindu site, it was visited by all the Gurus of Sikhism & by the Buddha himself, giving it rare religious credence. Sufis & Mystics followed, congregating at the ghats on the day of the solar eclipse – to practice & to preach.

Despite this combination of history, legend & myth the one lasting impression is of a town firmly rooted in the present. Albeit quietly on the move

Witness the broad roads, residential areas segmented into sectors, the spectacular campus of Kurushetra University, the museum & the Planetarium where school children flock in droves.

The Krishna museum showcasing the past has more than a thousand footfalls a day, as do the Ghats of the Sarovar. It is believed that the mythical Saraswati once flowed through this land. Geographical changes dried up the river turning it to slush before the water from the Bhakra Nangal was brought in to replenish & restore.

A case of past meets present. And all for the good.

Kurushetra is above all an aspirational town with a feel good factor. Pilgrims, striving for moksha continue to visit in hordes but many more come to avail ample educational opportunities in pursuit of a better material life.

The inspiration clearly is Kalpana Chawla.

Not Bhishma Pitamah lying on a bed of arrows (museum).


Highway Eatery


Brahma Sarovar