Cellular Jail has a sinister secret – it is a colonial prison in the 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 enviornment. 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 metres (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 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 most inhumane sort of punishments.
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!