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Cellular jail stand mute witness to the saga of Indian freedom struggle. This is a must visit for every Indian. The jail hosts many museums and the gallows where prisoners were hanged to death. In the evening a light and sound show is held in the premises depicting the history of Andaman islands and Cellular Jail.

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The Cellular Jail was known to house many notable Indian activists during the Indian freedom struggle. The Jail is one of the murkiest chapters in the history of the British rule in India. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and it took 10 years and Rs 5,17,352-/ for completion. The bricks used to build the building were brought from Burma, the erstwhile Myanmar.

But the history of using the Andaman island as a prisoner’s colony dates back to the Indian rebellion of 1857. Lt. Archibald Blair had surveyed the islands in the year 1688. So immediately after the first revolt of 1857, the freedom fighters were sent here and used as labourers for construction of the jail as well as for the buildings in Ross Island which was established as the administrative headquarter and residential area for the British Officers.

How to reach ?

 

Cellular jail is situated in the heart of the city and is just 2 kms away from the main Aberdeen Bazaar and 6 Kms from the airport. It is the first point of visit for most tourists visiting Andamans.

 

Timings

 

Cellular Jail remains open for visitors on all days from 9 am to 5 pm.

 

Some history about the Cellular Jail

On March 10, 1858, James Peterson Walker, the Superintendent of the Penal Settlement, landed in Andaman with the first batch of 200-chained prisoners, who were in fact our first freedom fighters. They had raised the banner of revolt against the foreign domination in India during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. Within three months the number of prisoners increased to 773.

The penal settlement established in Andaman Islands after the First War of Independence in 1857 was the beginning of the agonizing story of Indian freedom fighters in the make shift and awful jails at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail. The patriots who raised their voice against the Britishers were sent to this Jail, many of them returned back to their homes after completion of their punishment, but most of them could not.

Every wall of the Cellular jail has got a heart rendering story of struggling, sufferings and sacrifices.

Construction of the cellular Jail

The jail was constructed in 3 floors with 7 wings, Each wing stretching from Central tower similar to spokes of a wheel. There was also an entrance block to the jail which housed all the administrative offices. It had 696 cells, one for each person. The name Cellular Jail is derived from its unique feature as it has only cells unlike other jails which had dormitories. Each cell measured 13.5 feet by 7 feet and had iron bar doors in the front. A small ventilator, nearly 10 feet high was the only source of light and air in the cells.

Due to some political reasons, 04 out of the 07 wings of the Cellular Jail were demolished after Independence. It was only after a huge protest by the freedom fighters who had spent their lives in the jail, the demolition was stopped and the Cellular Jail was declared as a national memorial.

The unsung heroes of our freedom struggle

There were many freedom fighters who were brought to the Cellular Jail and never returned back to mainland India. We hardly know about those brave fighters who laid down their lives for us. Unfortunately, the politically motivated history did not mention the sacrifices of the inmates of the Cellular Jail.  Some famous freedom fighters incarcerated in the Cellular Jail were Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Upendra Nath Banerjee, Ullaskar Dutta, Indubushan Roy, Bibhuti Bhushan Sarkar, Rishikesh Kanjilal, Sudhin Kumar Sarkar, Avinash Chandra Bhattacharji & Birendra Sen. All these prisoners were sent to the Cellular Jail after 1910 on their conviction for participation in the Manictollah Conspiracy case.

The saga of Vir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was sent to Andamans on 4th July 1911 with sentence of two transportations for life. When he came to the Cellular Jail his elder brother, Ganesh Savarkar was already there. But the Savarkar brothers came to know about this fact only after having been in Jail over a year.

The cruel Jailor David Barrie

The Britisher’s appointed one of their cruelest officers David Barrie, an Irishman, as the jailor of the Cellular Jail from 1905 to1919. He welcomed every fresh boatload of men in person, and challenged them to answer why the prison walls were so low. "Because there's the sea on all sides for a thousand miles and on the Island David Barrie is your God”.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose & the Japanese rule in the Andamans

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose hosted the Indian Flag for the first time in Port Blair, when he along with the Japanese Army attacked and occupied the islands during the Second World War. All the Political prisoners were released from the Jail and the Britishers were captured and put in the Cellular Jail. However due to defeat of the Japanese forces in the second world war, Andaman Islands were recaptured by the British in the year 1945.

What to see

 

Cellular Jail has now been declared as a National Memorial and is open for tourists. The Jail has a museum depicting the life of the convicts, the dress, utensils and the instruments used by them. There is a gallery of photographs of the inmates. The gallows where the inmates were hanged to death should not be missed.

Some refreshments

In case you feel thirsty after a long walk through the cells and wings of the cellular jail, try the tender coconut sold just outside the main entrance of the Jail.

What you should not miss.

 

Do not miss to climb up the centre tower to catch a breathtaking view of the Ross Island at the backdrop. A selfie at this point is a must.

 

What you can skip

 

You can skip visiting all the wings of the jail and instead visit only the wing that hosts the Savarkar cell.

 

Ideal for

 

Cellular jail is a must visit for all types of tourists in Andaman.

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