Cellular Jail, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
When was it built: From 1896 to 1906
Who built it: British
Time taken: 10 years
Where is it located: Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
Why was it built: As Solitary Confinement
Architectural Style: Cellular, Pronged
Visit Timing: 9.00 am to 12.30 pm, 1.30 pm to 4.45 pm
How to Reach: Port Blair is well-connected with many cities of mainland India by sea and air.
Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, stands as a dark reminiscence of the British rule in the Indian subcontinent. This most dreaded and grueling colonial prison situated in the remote archipelago was used by the British particularly to exile Indian political prisoners.
The jail is now open to public viewing as a National Memorial, and its museum gives one a glimpse of years of India’s struggle for freedom.
FOUNDATION & HISTORY OF THE JAIL
Although the Andaman Islands were used by the British as a prison soon after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (the Sepoy Mutiny), the foundation of this jail was laid in 1896. The result of what was considered India’s First War of Independence however went in favour of the British who suppressed
The prisoners dreaded the waters of Andaman and being isolated from the mainland there were no way out for them to escape.
LIFE IN THE JAIL
Notable freedom fighters confined in the jail included Batukeshwar Dutt, Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, and the Savarkar brothers – Babarao Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar among others. Being in solitary confinement the Savarkar brothers were unaware of each other’s presence in the same jail for two years. Many freedom fighters in the jail went through inhuman and unimaginable tortures, the very thought of which brings chills down the spines. The jail drew attention when its inmates observed hunger strikes in the early 1930s. Bhagat Singh’s associate in the freedom movement, Mahavir Singh went on a hunger strike in protest of such cruel treatment but died when authorities tried to feed him milk forcibly which went to his lungs. His body was thrown into the sea. In 1937-38 following intervention by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore the government decided on repatriating the freedom fighters.
VISITING THE CELLULAR JAIL
Over the years, the building was damaged and only three wings and the tower remains. In 1969 it was converted into a National Memorial. Tourists from India and around the world visit the island which is predominantly famous for the Cellular Jail apart from its scenic beauty. The National Memorial houses several galleries including Freedom Fighters Photo and Exhibition Gallery in the ground floor and an Art gallery and Netaji Gallery on the first floor among others.
LIGHT & SOUND SHOW
It regularly holds Light & Sound (Son-et-Lumiere) shows on India’s freedom struggle in Hindi and English excepting on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The price of ticket for the light and sound show is Rs. 50/- per adult.