Also known as Kaal Paani, the Cellular Jail is one of the murkiest chapters in the history of the colonial rule in India. Located at Port Blair, the jail is associated with the freedom struggle of India and is a recommended place to visit. There were no means of escaping this isolated island as it was away from the mainland. The waters of the Andaman were feared by the prisoners. The brutal punishments were given to the prisoners and they were finally hanged to death. Numerous well-known dissidents: Veer Savarkar and Batukeshwar Dutt, were imprisoned here during the struggle for India’s independence.
The prison was constructed between 1896 and 1906 using the bricks imported from Burma. The main purpose of the establishment of this jail was solitary confinement of the prisoners. Completed in 1906, the jail derived its name from the solitary cells which prevented prisoners from communicating with each other. Each cell holding a single prisoner were not only traumatized by their journey to the prison, but also believed they would lose their caste if they crossed the kala paani i.e. dark water of the ocean.
Photo by Ankur P
The architecture of the jail was based on the Panopticon model. In Greek mythology, Panoptes was a monster with hundred eyes and was known to be a very productive watchman. Designed in a criss-cross pattern, the building consisted of seven wings with its center being a tower used by the guards to keep a close vigilance on the prisoners. The wings radiated from the tower in straight lines and were constructed in such a manner that the face of each cell only saw the back of the opposite cell. Each wing had three stories above them after completion. A total of 698 cells each measuring 15*8 feet in size with a ventilator located at a height of 3 m were present. A large bell present in the tower was used to raise the alarm in case of any emergency.
Photo by rapidtravelchai
The building got damaged over the years and only three wings and the tower remains which as later on converted into a National Memorial in the year 1969. Tourists from all over the world visit Andaman which is mainly known for the Cellular Jail apart from its scenic beauty.
Timings: 9:00 AM – 12.30 PM, 1.30 PM – 4.45 PM
Light and Sound show:
English: 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM
Hindi: 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Admission cost: Rs.10
An extra fee of Rs.100 and Rs.25 is applicable for using video cameras and cameras respectively.
Tip: The jail remains closed on Monday and during Public Holidays.
Tips for tourists visiting the Cellular Jail
- Cellular Jail has a museum having numerous historical artifacts and stories about the prisoners. Please note that the museum closes at 5 pm.
- The light and sound show, a theatrical saga of the freedom struggle is conducted both in English and Hindi in the jail premises after sunset.
- Very limited tickets are available for the light and sound show, so it is advisable to talk to the travel agent and get the tickets arranged beforehand.
Declared as the National Memorial, The Cellular Jail is a must visit place in Andaman. Visiting this place means exploring the history of Indian Independence.