When most Indians hear the name 'Andaman,' the only thing that comes to mind is Cellular Jail, the most vivid recollection of the island. Most Indians only knew two things about the Andaman Islands before the tourism boom: the terrible Cellular Jail where our independence heroes were imprisoned and the aboriginal tribes who lived in primitive circumstances.
As a result, a visit to the cellular jail is frequently the first and primary item on the itinerary of visitors to these islands. Everyone who has seen this sumptuous facility, which took ten years to create, will remember the untamed and harsh past of this penitentiary.
Cellular Jail's History
Cellular Jail was not the first jail on Andaman, contrary to popular belief. Convicts were exiled to these islands shortly after the British began construction of their headquarters on Ross Island, a small 600-square-kilometer island off the coast of Port Blair. Many political prisoners were transported to these islands between 1896 and 1906, when the British built a penal colony based on similar concepts employed in Australia.
The Cellular Jail was built at the Atlanta Point Hillock in Port Blair by inmates from the Ross Island Jail and the Viper Jail. In 1906, the legendary jail, whose primary concept was imprisonment in a single cell prison chamber, opened its doors to the first group of inmates. It became known as 'Kalapani,' which signified that crossing the sea would result in the loss of one's caste and faith.
The Cellular Jail is a three-story wheel-shaped edifice with seven radiating wings, each with a capacity of 100 inmates. The facility could hold 600-700 inmates at a time, although it was never completely filled. Many well-known politicians, including Veer Savarkar, Ullashkar Dutt, Yogeshwar Shukla, and others, served here.
Andaman's tale has always been tainted by the harsh legacy of cellular jails. The prison was notorious for its harsh Irish jailor, David Barry, who subjected inmates to inhumane physical labour and torture, prompting several to go on hunger strike.
When you visit the Cellular Jail and see the compelling light and sound display, you may encounter many of these heartbreaking stories firsthand. It is shown in the National Award-Winning Malayalam Film 'Kalapani,' which some consider to be as iconic as the prison itself.
How do you go to Cellular Jail?
The Cellular Jail is located near the north-east corner of Port Blair, roughly 2 kilometres from the city centre. The Aberdeen Jetty (from here you can get to Ross Island), Marina Park, Water Sports Complex, and the Bazaar are all near by. Tuktuks (auto-rickshaws) are readily available for rental to and from this location. Other practical modes of transportation include private chauffeured automobiles or leased two-wheelers, especially if you want to visit many sights inside the city.