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Cellular Jail in Port Blair is not a regular tourist spot but is evidence of the devastating past that the people had to go through. Though an iconic place in Andaman and Nicobar Island, no one can detach it from its dark chapter engraved forever in Indian history. It is named the Kala Pani by prisoners for its isolation and harsh conditions. It served as a brutal prison for both common criminals and, more importantly, political activists fighting with their lives for India’s independence. The giant structure, built between 1896 and 1906, was a deliberate manifestation of British colonial power. Its radial design, with seven wings radiating from a central watchtower, aimed to isolate prisoners physically and mentally. After India gained its independence, the Cellular Jail was made into a museum in 1979, giving people what it was like to live here back in the past.

History Of Cellular Jail

A view of Cellular Jail Port Blair

Image Credit: Yercaud-elango for Wikimedia Commons

The Cellular Jail’s construction started in 1896 by the British colonists who wanted a more remote and secure place for the prisoners. Initially, the prisoners were kept in a high-security prison in Port Blair from 1789 to 1796. But, following the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny and the Indian Revolution, the British started constructing a harsher prison. The prison was designed with seven wings to isolate the prisoners not just physically but mentally as well. The jail had three stories in each wing and 698 solitary cells. The colonists wanted to punish the prisoners with isolation and break the spirit of the political prisoners, which contributed to the prison’s “cellular” name. The harsh conditions faced by inmates, including solitary confinement, backbreaking labour, and a tropical climate, were enough to break the spirit of the prisoners. Some notable freedom fighters who have spent their time in Cellular jail include Veer Savarkar, Yogendra Shukla, and Shahid Bhagat Singh (not imprisoned here), who were incarcerated here.

Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, and others started a campaign to abolish the treatment practised here. The campaign finally paid off, and the hospital was emptied in 1939. Not just that, later, during World War II, the Japanese troops occupied the jail for a prison camp. Following India’s independence, the jail was transformed into a museum in 1979 as a tribute to the struggles of the freedom fighters.

Must Read: Things To Do In Andaman

Top Things To Do At Cellular Jail In Port Blair

Things to do at Port Blair

Image Credit: Aliven Sarkar for Wikimedia Commons

As you step inside the Cellular Jail, you will be immediately drawn to the Andaman Cellular Jail history. However, there’s so much more to the place’s history that we aren’t aware of. Following are a few activities to explore in the cellular jail:
Guided Tours

Given the expanse and grandeur of the Cellular Jail, you need to opt for a guided tour to understand better its significance and why it holds so much importance in India’s independence. From the jail’s infrastructure to the stories of the inmates, there’s a lot to uncover during these tours. As a visitor listening to these stories, you connect with the past.
Museum Exhibits

Permanent and temporary exhibits within the jail complex offer a better insight into prisoners’ lives, the jail’s operational structure, and the Indian independence movement. Several artefacts, photographs, and a wide range of informative displays provide a peek into the place’s history.
Veer Savarkar Cell

Regarding Andaman Cellular Jail history, one name that will be forever tied to it is Freedom Fighter Veer Savarkar. Once you enter the museum, you can’t miss out on exploring the cell where he was held captive and imprisoned. The starkness and isolation inside the cell remind you of the sacrifices these people made to liberate the country.

Hanging Room And Gallows
You will also witness the chilling site where the executions took place inside the Cellular Jail. The kind of brutality that the people faced back during those days will leave a lasting impact on your mind for a longer time, and you will be glad to know that this is no more in practice.

Anthropological Museum
Located within the Cellular Jail complex, the Anthropological Museum showcases the tribal heritage and way of life of the indigenous inhabitants of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This museum offers a contrasting perspective to the colonial narrative.

Light and Sound Show
One of the highlights of your visit to the Cellular Jail is the light and sound show. This show employs dramatic narration, sound effects, and light projections to bring the Cellular Jail’s history to life. Witness the jail’s transformation from a symbol of oppression to a monument of resilience. Usually, the shows are conducted in the evening.

Cellular Jail Library
Tourists who want to explore more about the history of the cellular jail, its existence, and the impacts it has left on its prisoners’ lives can visit the Cellular Jail library, which is well-stocked with books, documents, and periodicals related to the jail and its history.

Art Gallery
Not many tourists know this, but inside the cellular jail lies an art gallery with exhibits that will perplex you. This gallery showcases artwork depicting the struggle for independence and the sacrifices made by freedom fighters. Each art piece evokes an emotion that will leave you feeling innate.

Sail Through History

An amazing view of the prison in Andaman.

Image Credit: Abhishek R Patel for Wikimedia Commons

Take a short boat ride from Port Blair to neighbouring Ross Island, once the British administrative headquarters in Andaman. Explore the ruins of colonial buildings, including the British Chief Commissioner’s residence and a Presbyterian Church, remnants of a bygone era.

Suggested Read: Places To Visit In Port Blair

Martyrs’ Gallery

A wonderful view of Martyrs Gallery.

Image Credit: Pinakpani for Wikimedia Commons

As the name explains, Martyr’s Gallery pays tribute to the martyrs of the Indian independence movement. Portraits and information about freedom fighters who were incarcerated or lost their lives in the struggle for freedom evoke a sense of respect and gratitude.

How To Reach Cellular Jail In Port Blair?

A stunning view of prison in Andaman.

Image Credit: Yercaud-elango for Wikimedia Commons

The Cellular Jail is located in Atlanta Point in Port Blair. The closest international airport is the Veer Savarkar International Airport, where you can take local transportation like auto rickshaws, taxis or rented cars to reach Cellular Jail.

Ferry services operate from mainland India, particularly Chennai and Kolkata, to Port Blair. This option offers a more leisurely travel experience, allowing you to enjoy the scenic journey through the Bay of Bengal. Some hotels near Cellular Jail Port Blair offer pick-up and drop services, which you can also avail of. They offer direct pick-up from the airport, dropping you off and then taking you to Cellular Jail for a day of exploration.

Suggested Read: Places to Visit in Andaman

Best Time To Visit Cellular Jail

A mesmerising view of Cellular jail Port Blair

Image Credit: Allan.barrows for Wikimedia Commons

If you are intrigued about exploring the history of Cellular Jail by visiting it in person, the best time to visit is from October to March. The weather is comfortable and pleasant.

If you’re solely interested in the history of Cellular Jail, consider planning your visit to coincide with the light and sound show held in the evenings (Hindi and English). This captivating show brings the Cellular Jail’s past to life through narration, sound effects, and light projections. Avoid visiting during the summer months since the sun can be harsh.

Entrance Fees And Timings

A stunning view of Port Blair in Andaman

Image Credit: Biswarup Ganguly for Wikimedia Commons

Before visiting the Cellular Jail in Port Blair, ensure you are well-informed about the sightseeing spot’s basic insights.
Port Blair Cellular Jail Tickets

Below are the details of the Port Blair Cellular Jail tickets:

Adults: ₹30
Children (between 5 and 12 years): ₹15
Still camera: ₹200
Video camera: ₹1000
Filming: ₹10,000 per day
Light and Sound Show: ₹300 per person
Cellular Jail Port Blair Timings

The sightseeing spot is open from 09:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM. Avoid visiting during the two-hour break in between.

Light and Sound Show: 5:15 PM, 6:15 PM, and 7:15 PM (subject to change).
Pro Tip: Purchase tickets online to avoid queues, especially during peak season

Further Read: Shopping In Andaman

The Cellular Jail in Port Blair may not evoke a pleasing emotion, but it is a crucial part of Indian history. It is a stark reminder of the sacrifices made in India’s struggle for freedom. It’s not just a historical monument but a platform for education, reflection, and appreciation for the values of liberty and human rights. A tour of this remarkable historical spot is an absolute must on your next trip to Andaman , including the Cellular Jail.

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Cover Image Credit: RAMITBAR for Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions About Cellular Jail In Port Blair

What is the significance of the Cellular Jail?

The Cellular Jail served as a brutal prison for both common criminals and Indian independence fighters during British rule.

What is the Port Blair Airport to Cellular Jail distance?

The Port Blair Airport to Cellular Jail distance via VIP road is around 4.6 km, which takes around 15 minutes to reach.

Does the Cellular Jail host any special events?

In the evenings, the Cellular Jail hosts a light and sound show that narrates its history and the freedom struggle.

What are some things to keep in mind while visiting the Cellular Jail?

The Cellular Jail is a place of historical significance. Dress modestly and maintain a respectful demeanour. Photography is allowed for personal use with a fee, but filming requires prior permission.

What languages is the Light and Sound Show conducted in?

Cellular Jail's light and sound show is conducted in Hindi and English.

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