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Friday, August 12, 2016

Cellular Jail Portblair: Dark cells that gave us bright future!

Evening Sound and Light Show:
Upon our arrival at Port Blair on Day 1, we had time only for the evening sound and light show at the historic cellular Jail. Show timings are 6 PM (Hindi) and 7.15 PM (English). Ticket issue stats at 5.15 PM, costs Rs 50 per person. This entry gives you very limited access and you won’t be able to visit the barracks and corridors of the jail. Visitors are confined to a small display area where they can sit and enjoy the show. No fee for camera. Photography is not allowed while the show is in progress. You are free to click before it starts or after it ends. I clicked this just after the show concluded and before they switched off the lights.



The show lasts for about 45-50 minutes and explains the history of the jail and life of prisoners. Totally worth it and helps us recall the sacrifices made by previous generation folks to get us the freedom we are enjoying today.

Cellular Jail visit
On our Day 3, we visited the cellular jail again early morning. Out of 7 blocks shown in prototype, only 3 seem to remain today.  Main areas inside the cellular jail are the gallows, cells, central tower, an exhibit which shows hard work done by prisoners, A photo exhibit of Andaman in the past, a memorial for first war of Independence, the old tree that has survived for centuries, a martyr’s memorial, two lamps, the evening sound and light show display area and an exhibit that explains Cellular jail’s history and an overpriced souvenir shop near the exit.

Cellular Jail, Andaman- Main Entrance

Below: A scale model depicting the cellular jail complex

Some views from the top of Cellular jail

 
 View of Ross Island and ocean from top floor of Cellular Jail
 Corridors of horror
 The Gallows
 Inside of a cell
 Super secure lock mechanism- prisoners can't reach it from inside even if they have the key
 Martyr's column
 A memorial for 1857 first war of Independence. Showcases lots of photos and paintings related to the mutiny.
 The watch tower
 A shed in which prisoners were subjected to extreme physical work, such as extracting oil from coconut and so on- they used to get targets which are impossible to reach even by strongest persons.

When I was put behind the bars... only momentarily though

 Millions of units of brick were used to construct the cell. Cellular jail was constructed between 1896 and 1906 with close to 700 cells. Each cell is 4.5 meters in length and 2.7 meters in width. No windows (only a small ventilation hole closer to ceiling) and doors were well spaced making it very difficult for prisoner to talk to person in nearby cells. Because Andaman is so far from mainland and escape was impossible because of water all around, it was an ideal choice to build the prison. Wikipedia has full history, so don't see a need to repeat the same.

Cellular Jail was under Japanese occupation for a short period in 1942, during which Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose visited the prison. But there seems to a bit of anger on Netaji amongst the locals in Port Blair as Netaji didn't make any attempt to free the prisoners in the jail (or Japanese cleverly ensured that Netaji didn't get full picture)
A few tips while visiting the cellular Jail:
1. The government run shop near the exit of Cellular Jail is a complete rip off. T shirts they sell for Rs 200-300 are available for Rs 100 at North Bay or other roadside shop

2. Enjoy tender coconut outside the cellular jail complex. At Rs 20 a piece, these big, tasty tender coconuts were a steal. I had 4 in the morning, went there again in the evening purely for coconuts and had 2 more!

3. Cellular Jail opens at 8.45 AM. If you are planning for photography, go at 8.45- 9 AM when visitor count will be low and you can get clear photos of the corridors or campus without too many people around. If you’re looking to explore Cellular Jail and evening sound and light show together, then visit by about 3 PM- spend 2 hours exploring the jail, come out, buy ticket for evening show, and re-enter for Hindi sound and light show. But expect more crowd.
On the occasion of Independence day that is just a few days away, let us pay a tribute to thousands of souls who kept National interest ahead of their personal gains and helped us secure freedom. Jai Hind.

6 comments :

rupam sarma said...

Amazing pics. Thanks for post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rupam

Ami said...

Marking your tips for my visit :D

Indrani said...

Just to see this jail I want to visit Andamans.
God only knows how many times we planned and cancelled. :(

satish said...

Jai hind.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Ami, Indrani and Satish