Cellular Jail

It has been a long journey for the Cellular Jail - from a torture machine to a National Memorial, from a dreaded prison to a place of pilgrimage.

 

The cellular Jail was regarded by the freedom fighters all over the country as a place of pilgrimage. It was here the British Government used to send “dangerous prisoners”. The construction of the cellular Jail was taken up in 1898 and completed by about 1906. The jail is the first site that greets a visitor on his/her arrival at Port Blair. Simultaneously, the huge building instills terrorism, the minds of the onlookers and a sense of reverence. Every bricks of Cellular Jail has got a heart rendering story to tell the story of resistance, sufferings and sacrifices. The structural specialty of the Cellular Jail is that the whole jail consists of cells. Each cell was meant for one inmate only and hence the name. Cellular Jail originally had seven, three storied wings with a total of 698 cells, radiating from a central tower which had an additional storey to facilitate watch and ward. In one of the three surviving wings of the Jail is situated 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. In the Cellular Jail Museum more than 200 photographs of all freedom fighters who were in the Jail are exhibited. 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, on great personal risk are all in the museum reminding us the untold sufferings of the freedom fighters while languishing in the Cellular Jail. Convicts who were sentenced to transportation for life were sent to these islands and interned in the Cellular Jail. Many political prisoners and revolutionaries were incarcerated here during the freedom struggle. Against the tyranny of the Jail management political 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. Many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and ended their live by committing suicide rather than subjecting themselves to the indignities heaped on them. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared as National Memorial on 21st Feb 1979.

Son et Lumiere (Sound and Light show)

The saga of this heroic struggle is now brought alive in the Cellular Jail, Port Blair in a moving Son et Lumiere (Light and Sound Show) which was inaugurated by Lt. General R. S. Dayal (Retd.) Lt. Governor, A & N Islands on 20th October 1990 in the presence of a number of Freedom Fighters (Ex- Andaman Political Prisoners). The show begins with a brief historical and mythological reference to the A & N Islands by the wandering spirit of the cellular Jail. The Spirit takes one into a journey through the period when freedom fighters faced unimaginable miseries at the hands of David Barrie and other Jailers from time to time. Undeterred, they stood firm to resolve their fight for freedom, with courage and dignity,Daily Shows (Timing Mon, Wed,Fri 6pm to 7pm in Hindi and 7pm to 8pm in English)(  Tue ,Thu ,Sat ,Sun  both Shows  in Hindi ) inside the cellular jail complex.

Ross Island

Ross Island, a few km from Aberdeen jetty at Port Blair, is yet another member of the Andaman group of islands. As in the case of its sister-islands, it also has thick forests. To any onlooker it may give the impression that it has no "life" — in the sense that there is no human habitation. But, a few decades ago, this island was the seat of "British power." Ross Island was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years. It had everything — bazaar, bakery, stores, water treatment plant, church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery and what have you. Today, everything has disappeared except some buildings, which housed some of these landmarks. Named after the marine surveyor Sir Daniel Ross, the Island soon became the base. Initially, crude barracks of bamboo and grass were put up for freedom fighters while the rest of the party stayed on board the ships that had brought them. Later, the freedom fighters built houses, offices, barracks and other structures at the Ross Island, after which they were promptly sent to Viper Island, where the first jail was built. The bungalow, meant for the chief of the Penal Settlement, was constructed at the northern summit of the Island. Called Government House, the large-gabled home had Italian tiled flooring on the ground level. Now, some remains of the flooring are there, of course in a decrepit condition.

Viper Island

Viper Island, named after the ship wreck event of a British trading ship named “Viper” in 19th century, is located near Port Blair. The ruins of an olden discarded jail, built by British in 1867, with yellow colored bricks and the gallows are seen in this Island. The Island was considered as the place of penal settlement for the freedom fighters of India. This Island was part of the great Indian independence history and had witnessed the sufferings and sacrifices of Indian national involved in freedom struggle. Viper Island is a serene beautiful tourist destination and can be approached by harbor cruise. This place is visited by number of tourists as it has multiple attractions with historical importance and also has mesmerizing picnic spots with natural picturesque environments.

 

 

 

Chatam Saw Mill

know as the oldest and largest saw mill in South East Asi-A heritage.

This mill was established in 1883 with the primary objective to meet the local requirements of sawn timber for the constructional works.The machines initially installed were second hand and operated with unskilled man power available at that time. Unfortunately during the Second World War, the mill was destroyed badly by the direct hit of bombs, paralysing its working completely. However, after the second world war, the mill was revived in mid forties and fifties by salvaging the old machinery to meet the continued need of sawn timber of the islanders. So much so, this requirement of sawn timber of the Islanders further increased manifold after the settlement of people from erstwhile East Pakistan, Srilanka and Burma  in these islands.