Cellular Jail has a sinister secret – it is a colonial prison in Port Blair, India that is also called ‘Kaala Pani’. It is the most dreaded jail that stood as the mute witness to barbarity meted out on war heroes!
It can sound weird to you, but we certainly felt the menacing history of the jail as we entered the expansive area. On that note, it is not just an expansive, carefully constructed prison- it is a stark reminder of the struggles our ancestors went through- it is a testimony to our freedom.
The design of those corridors, those eerie gallows, or atrocious punishments imposed on prisoners – the gruesome history of the place was tangible.
The Andaman Jail overlooks Ross Island, and the sea between it is another gory reminder of the prisoners’ failed attempts at escaping.
We took a whole lot of time to explore the exteriors as well as interiors of the prison. The appalling history just made it too claustrophobic for us to go inside each cell and feel the pain those prisoners would have gone through. Not only were the prisoners treated inhumanely, they were also executed at the whim of the feral Superintendent.
It struck us without any doubt – the jail is depressing with its pin-drop silence environment. There were more than hundreds of people inside the building but still, there was so much sadness!
We could easily make out that the tourists seemed as shocked by the startling history as the two of us. A sinking feeling accompanied us all this while we were there!
This National Memorial can give anyone the chills, especially during the light and sound show in the evening, that traces it’s history through the late 1890s to the present era.
The prison, built in the late twentieth century by the East India Company, comprises of 696 cells- all of which housed one prisoner, each in solitary confinement. Each cell is about 4.5 by 2.7 meters (14.8 ft × 8.9 ft) in size with just a ventilator set at a height of 10ft.
There were exhibits outside each important place in the prison that introduced us to its history. Political leaders were exiled to this remote Andaman jail where they were made to follow a strict disciple, other than isolation.
Besides set timing for the use of the toilet (thrice a day), there were strict work quotas assigned to the prisoners (beyond their capacities), which they weren’t able to meet. This led to the most inhumane sort of punishment.
Jailors resorted to bar fetters, neck ring shackles, gunny bag uniforms, and iron triangular frames to torture the prisoners.
I won’t lie – we stepped inside those cells and gallows with saddened heart. The emotions were just overflowing and I wanted to shed a tear. We walked through the museum and other parts of the prison trying to absorb everything.
The menacing stories of the Cellular Jail of Andaman and Nicobar Islands haunted us for the rest of the day.
♦ Entry fee to Cellular Jail in Andaman is 30INR per person. For the light and sound show in the evening is 50 INR per person. Show timings are 6 PM and 7:15 PM. Entry to the jail closes at sharp 4 PM in the evening. It only reopens for those with a ticket for light and sound show.
♦ The Cellular Jail is easily reachable by a public transport.
♦ Keep aside 3-4 hours to explore the Andaman Jail completely.
♦ Make sure you read all that’s written on the exhibits as that can send chills down your spine but at the same time would remind you of the great struggle that our ancestors went through to see a free India. You can read more about the Andaman Jail, here.
Are you planning to take a trip to Andaman Island, India? Make sure you read our itinerary on Havelock Island!
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I think it’s so interesting that you chose to visit a jail cell. A very unique way to see the city and learn about its history, I might have to do this the next time I go to Andaman. Thanks!
You should, Michelle. 🙂
Prison visits are so eerie. I was reading a post on Alcazar the other day, and it reminded me of Andamans jail. Was there anyone around to tell you escape stories or are there any such stories at all?
It was spooky indeed, Punita. And no escaping the jail because it was surrounded by water on all sides! :-/
Visiting places like this is always such a mixed thing for me. On one hand, the history they preserve is important and people should learn about it, but it is usually overwhelmingly sad. I still think I would love to visit one day.
John, that was exactly what it was like for us- left with so many mixed feelings! But still it is worth taking a tour!
Visiting prisons and jails is never easy, but I do think they are a very important part of our history. I had such a hard time when I visited prisons in Vietnam and Cambodia – it really saddened me for days. They definitely aren’t for the feint of heart, but very important for us not to forget the history of those places.
I agree, Lindsay! It takes a heart of iron to be able to brave visit to such places. We havenâ€™t been to Vietnam and Cambodia, but have seen similar pictures of some jails. Would you recommend a visit?
there is nothing more depression than old jails… at one hand it’s creepy that you can visit them as a tourist but it’s an important step as well to understand history and the human kind itself. to not forget and hopefully learn.
What an interesting trip! Andaman Jail seems so depressing tho! I mean I know that was a place where freedom fighters used to live but still. Your photos are great, thank you for sharing.
Glad you liked reading it, ADA 🙂
Wow great read. Very sad story. You feel very bad for the people kept there. They seem to have really kept this place looking nice over the years. While it is a somber place it does seem that the views are very nice too. Definitely a good place to visit.
I’ve always been curious about prison cells so I found this article incredibly interesting 🙂 Thanks for sharing, will be following more of your adventures
Thanks, Chiara. Happy to have you as a part of our family 🙂
This sounds fascinating. It’s horrendous how we treat each other as humans isn’t it? I’m sure torture like this is still used to extract confessions in some places. We went to a prison in Phnom Penh whichever housed Khmer Rouge prisoners and the conditions were so shocking! The floors are still stained with blood.
Wow, amazing! Don’t get to see posts on the Andaman Islands too often – such an interesting read, thank you!
Youâ€™re welcome, Claire. Your comment makes us glad to have visited Andamans 🙂
This saddens my heart. There’s so much we don’t know about our past. I’m glad you shared some history here. A sad, but true history.