Officer’s Hill, Dagshai Postcard

For this week’s postcard we go back to the Indian hill station of Dagshai and this image of the officers’ bungalows as seen from the hospital:

The bungalows themselves can be seen arrayed across the hillside:

Traditionally in India, unmarried officers lived in their regimental messes, such as this example at Landsdowne described in Charles Allen’s book “Plain Tales from the Raj”:

It was completely jerry-built, with bricks, wood, bits of stone, and without architectural merit whatsoever, designed by the officers and built by the troops themselves. And it was furnished similarly, with every sort of local-made jerry-built furniture. One entered the mess through a foyer which was furnished with rapidly decaying heads of animals which had been stuffed. On one side was the billiard room, the walls of which were adorned with stuffed animal heads…

John Morris explains:

Here the unmarried officers spent a great deal of their time and had their meals and in particular, dined together every night.

However once an officer had married it was typical for him and his wife to rent a bungalow at whichever cantonment or station he had been deployed to and set up home together. In the cooler climates of an Indian hill station every effort was made to make an officer’s bungalow resemble an English cottage as possible. Lady Wilson espoused the delights of a hill station near Sind in what is now Pakistan:

Blessings on the man who dreamt of Sakesar and made it an English home. I am delighted with our new quarters. You can’t imagine the kind of material pleasure one has in material things that simply look English. The roof of this house enchants me, merely because it slants instead of being flat; the ceilings, because they are much lower than those at Shahpur and are plastered, so that beams are concealed. The woodwork is actually varnished: the bow-windows are really windows, not doors: the fireplaces are in the right place; and now our pictures, piano and general household goods have arrived, we are cosy as cosy could be and feel as if we had been established for centuries, instead of five weeks.

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