Being the sole witness of the cruelty of the British Empire towards the-then Indian politics and freedom fights, the Cellular Jail aka Kali Pani can be a fascinating visit to get a glimpse of the gone days. The jail is known as the National Memorial of India and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cellular Jail was the hub of inhuman punishments and cruelties of British wardens and jailers. The jail guards the real, painful and sad stories of British rule and India’s journey to independence. Cellular jail is visited for its architecture and the stories it grew old with.
Cellular Jail or Kala Pani is a colonial jail that is located in Port Blair of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The jail was built between 1896 and 1906 after the revolt of 1857 to capture and isolate the political prisoners away from society. The reason for building the jail in A&N was strategic in many ways firstly, it would isolate the prisoners from the world, secondly, the place was away from mainland India so prisoners would not be able to contact their friends or family, and lastly, they could not even escape from the island as it was surrounded by ocean from all sides.
Britishers used the jail to hold the freedom fighters, political prisoners and political leaders captive. Initially, the building had 7 wings with 3 floors in each wing that would meet at the surveillance tower at the center. The jail had 696 cells on each floor which were designed in such a way that no prisoner can see or speak to each other and would stay in solitary confinement.
Today, the jail premises accommodate Govind Ballabh Pant hospital. This 500-bed hospital was inaugurated in the year 1963. Cellular jail is visited by domestic and foreign tourists and historians.
Yogendra Shukla, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt, Sachindranath Sanyal, and Babarao Savarkar are some popular freedom activists who spend a significant period of time in Cellular jail.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Babarao Savarkar were brothers and for almost 2 years they didn’t know that the other one was also in the same jail.
The jail has only 3 wings left out of 7. After India gained independence many wings were destroyed by the locals because of the atrocities that happened there. Many freedom fighters protested against it as they wanted the jail not to be demolished as it was proof of the freedom struggle that they and their fellow countrymen went through to achieve independence.
The jail got converted into a national memorial dedicated to the freedom fighters in the year 1979.
Frustrated by the atrocities and inhuman behavior, the jail inmates carried out a hunger strike to attract the attention of authorities in 1933. Three freedom fighters Mahavir Singh, Mohan Kishore Namdas, and Mohit Moitra died of forced feeding through pipes.
The Exhibition Gallery is located on the ground floor of the National Memorial. The exhibition consists of belongings and memories of freedom fighters who were punished in jail.
The photographs of freedom fighters are displayed in the premises of the Cellular Jail. The photo gallery will take you to the bygone era and you will come across photographs of many popular freedom fighters along with the common countrymen who contributed their bit in the freedom struggle.
The Netaji Gallery showcases the belongings of one of the prolific freedom fighters named Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
The amazing and heart touching light and sound show in the evening is a must-see. The show displays a glimpse of the British era, how political personalities and freedom fighters were jailed and how they were treated in the Cellular Jail. The show is presented in two languages Hindi and English. The Hindi show timing is 6 PM-7:15 PM on days such as Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The English show starts at 7:15 and runs for one hour.
One can visit Cellular Jail any time of the year as the climate of Port Blair is pleasant throughout the year. There are two specific timing slots one is from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and the other from 1:30 pm to 4:45 pm. The Cellular Jail remains open for all days of the week except on national holidays.
By Air. Veer Savarkar International airport in Port Blair is the nearest airport to the cellular jail. From the airport, one may take the taxi or an auto-rickshaw to cover a distance of 4km to reach the historical jail. The airport receives flights from all the metro cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata.
By Water. From the port of Chennai, Kolkata, and Vishakhapatnam regular ships leave for Port Blair. One may make the reservation in these ships online and travel to Port Blair by waterways. From the Port Blair port, the National Memorial is approx. 8km away from the RGT Road. To reach the place, you can hire local transports such as buses, taxi, or autos.
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