Monday, July 15, 2024

Tourism      Monuments      National Monuments      Andaman and Nicobar Islands     Port Blair    

Cellular Jail

Wandoor, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Best season
October to early May
Nearest Town : Port Blair (29km)
Significance : A main historical feature in Andaman
Write Comments | Read comments | Tour Packages

Cellular Jail, now known as the National Museum is a witness to the Freedom Movement at Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A main historical feature in Andaman, it overlooks the sea from a hill northeast of the Port Blair town center. Mainly, it was built by the British to house dangerous criminals. But, later, thousands of freedom fighters were incarcerated and tortured here, during the British and Japanese regime. Many prisoners died here. 

The nationalist prisoners were the for the first time brought to this jail on March 10, 1858. Later in 1872, the British converted it into a cellular one following the assassination of Lord Mayo by a convict and named it as 'Kalapani'. This jail has also been the location for many Indian movies, the most famous being a Malayalam movie 'Kalapani'. Convicts were sent to these islands and interned in the Cellular Jail. Many political prisoners and revolutionaries were prisoned here during the freedom struggle. In those days, prisoners were not allowed to communicate with their friends and relatives on the mainland except once in a year. Even the letters coming from mainland and newspapers subscribed by the prisoners were censored before being given to them. While fighting against this tyranny some political leaders had to lay down their lives and many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and ended their live by committing suicide.  

The construction of the Cellular Jail was taken up in 1898 and completed in 1906. An earthquake in 1941 and the Japanese occupation from March 1942 to October 1954 effected the jail building. At present there are only three wings and these stand as a silent monument to the great patriot's and martyrs who were interned in this Jail, who had to sacrifice their lives at the altar of their country's freedom. In one of the three surviving wings of the Jail is situated in the District Jail. On the inside walls of the hexagonal brick built structure, of the second floor of the Central Tower of the Cellular Jail, one can find the names of more than 336 freedom fighters and revolutionaries who were incarcerated in the Cellular Jail for their patriotic fervor. All these are displayed on the marble slabs. The main entrance, flanked by castellated round towers has been restored.

The whole jail consists of 698 cells with seven wings spreading out like flower petals and hence the jail was called 'Cellular'. The centre of the jail had a tower with a turret connected to these isolated cells to an easy watch. 

There is a reference library exclusively on the Freedom Movement with special reference to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Cellular Jail, which had more than 200 photographs of freedom fighters, their biographies and autobiographies among other things. Certain paintings on the barbarous treatment meted out to the prisoners, utensils, vessels, uniforms etc. of the prisoners used in those days and the tools, machines which the prisoners were made to operate etc exhibits here.  The jail was declared a national memorial on December 30, 1997.

A sound and light show is held here about the historical events regarding this jail. Admission fee to the Cellular Jail: Rs.5
Camera / Video: Rs.10 / 50
Timings: 9 00 - 12 30 hrs & 13 30 - 17 00 hrs from Tuesdays to Thursdays.