Cellular Jail – The National Memorial
This piece of History is a must in your Andaman Trip
What comes to your mind first when you think of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands? For a large number of people it is the Cellular Jail located in Port Blair. For some, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is synonymous to the Cellular Jail.
The Indian Freedom Movement was a long and unending struggle – a patriotic struggle fought bravely and selflessly by numerous freedom fighters. The Cellular Jail or the ‘Kala Pani‘ bears testimony to the inhuman torture meted out to our brave fighters.
History of the Cellular Jail
The Andaman Islands were used as a prison to suppress rebellions from the days of the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. The remoteness of the Islands from the mainland made it ideal to hold exiled political prisoners.
Why do you think the Britishers considered constructing such a huge jail? With the Independence movement gaining momentum in the late 19th century, the need for a well-constructed, high-security prison occurred. Charles James Lyall and A.S.Lethbridge recommended the construction of the Cellular Jail. The main motive behind the construction was to use it as place of exclusion and isolation where prisoners could be subjected to harsh punishment upon arrival.
The construction of the Cellular Jail started in the year 1896 and was over by 1906. The original puce-colored brick building was a massive three storeyed structure with seven wings diverging from a central watchtower consisting a large bell to raise an alarm. The standard design found in the British jails was used for the Cellular Jail as well. Believe it or not, the Cellular Jail was able to keep 698 prisoners into confinement.
A large chunk of Indian Freedom Fighters were convicted in different ‘conspiracy cases’. They became prisoners and were kept in the jail in isolation. The who’s who our freedom struggle underwent through severe torture and punishment in the Cellular Jail – a dark chapter in the history of Indian Independence Movement. Prominent prisoners include names like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Babarao Savarkar and Jatish Chandra Pal.
Statues of Political Prisoners @Veer Savarkar Park
Cellular Jail: The National Memorial
Can you imagine a trip to the Andaman Islands without visiting the Cellular Jail – the answer is a big NO. The Cellular Jail is now considered a landmark for the entire Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is often the first place to be visited by the innumerable tourists and even the foreign dignitaries.
The Martyrs Memorial inside the jail will transport you back to the torturous days. The flogging stand, oil mill, gallows and other instruments of punishment are displayed there. There sight might give you goosebumps and make you shudder. Explore the Gallery on War of Independence thoroughly – see and read about the displayed items. You can feel the horrifying life of the prisoners.
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