One of the most emotional places I have visited is the Cellular Jail. It is a witness to the sufferings of many of our freedom fighters and soldiers who went through hell in the name of fight for freedom. When I visited Cellular Jail the first time around, I did not realise the importance and significance that much. But when I visited the second time around, it was a very touchy and a sentimental experience.
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About Cellular Jail
Also known as Kala Paani (Black waters in Hindi language), Cellular Jail was a colonial prison in Port Blair of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It was also called Kala because black represents death. The prison was a prison for political prisoners (Indian freedom fighters) that was used by British Government to deport all the freedom fighters whom they considered as criminals. It is considered as the temple for freedom fighters.
Hire a guide to know about the stories. The guides are available at the entrance of Cellular Jail.
The freedom fighters were subjected to many cruel and physical torture. They were locked up with metal rods and many lost their lives because of the cruelty.
Stories of never forgotten soldiers
There were many freedom fighters, not just the ones mentioned below, who made history and gave their life for our nation. They were the prisoners and inmates at Cellular Jail and had huge contribution for freeing India. During my visit, I learned that there were many prisoners who were not given any recognition by Independent India for their struggles and fights.
Mahavir Singh was the son of Kunwar Devi Singh. Born in 1908 in Uttar Pradesh, Mahavir Singh was an active member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army. Hindustan Socialist Republican Army was a revolutionary organisation that was formed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Sachindra Nath Bakshi, Sachindranath Sanyal and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee.
Mahavir Singh was arrested and deported to Cellular Jail for the Lahore Conspiracy case. In the jail, he participated in the first hunger strike in May 1933. Due to the brutal force feeding, he breathed his last.
Co-founder of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, Sachindranath Sanyal was an Indian revolutionary who was born in 1893 in Varanasi. He was arrested and deported to Cellular Jail because of the Benaras conspiracy case. In 1920 in the wake of victory of Britain, British government released many prisoners including Sachindranath Sanyal. Even after his release, he continued fighting for the freedom. He mentored other freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev.
Another co-founder of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, Yogendra Shukla was born in 1896 in Bihar. For 5 years between 1932 and 1937, Yogendra Shukla was a prisoner in Cellular Jail. He was imprisoned in many jails and due to the long years of prison life, he was seriously ill and breathed his last in 1960.
Vinayak Damodar “Veer” Savarkar
Born in 1883, Vinayak Damodar “Veer” Savarkar was an Indian activist and politician. He was arrested and deported to Cellular Jail for two charges, the Nasik conspiracy case and under code 121-A against King Emperor conspiracy. He was sentenced for life imprisonment for a total of 50 years. Savarkar breathed last in 1966 in his residence in Bombay.
One of the freedom fighters who were not recognised by Independent India was Batukeshwar Dutta. Born in 1910 in West Bengal, Batukeshwar Dutta was an Indian independence fighter and a revolutionary. He was a member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Cellular Jail because of the Central Assembly Bomb case. In 1965, he died due to long illness in New Delhi.
Booking for Cellular Jail
Visiting Cellular Jail is a very popular tourist attraction in Port Blair. The Cellular Jail (not the light and sound show) is open in two time slots; 9 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:45 PM. There is a very minimal entrance fee of INR 30 per person for Indian and INR 100 per person for Foreign nationals. The ticket can be purchased at the entrance of the jail and the ticket includes the visit to the Jail museum.
Cellular Jail museum is a very important place within the Cellular Jail complex. It has the stories and the artefacts depicting the lives of the prisoners. The museum is definitely a must visit and a great place to learn about Indian history.
Light and sound show
The light and sound show is a show where an old tree in the Cellular Jail tells the tales of the prisoners and the sufferings they went through. It is narrated in Hindi and English languages. Usually, the bookings for light and sound show (costing INR 300 per person) gets sold out pretty quickly. Hence, I highly suggest advance booking your visit. There are two ways to register for the light and sound show:
- Advance booking on Andaman Tourism website.
- Booking at the entrance. Even though there are steps clearly mentioned (as shown in the picture below) at the entrances, the booking is a tedious and lengthy process, especially considering that the island does not have very good Wifi network.
How to get to Cellular Jail?
The Cellular Jail is around 8 kilometres from Port Blair city and the best way to get there is by road. Port Blair has many taxis and auto rickshaws. Make sure to haggle with the auto drivers as they do tend to charge more and the autos do not have the metre. For one way, we hired an auto rickshaw and while returning, we walked back to our hotel.
My visit to Cellular Jail was an eye-opener. It gave me a glimpse of all the sufferings that our nation’s freedom fighters went through so we could breathe in free India. I advise everyone visiting Andaman islands to pay their respects and visit this amazing temple.
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