A visit to the Cellular Jail is like reliving all the old Hindi classic patriotic movies, particularly Kala Paani. Considering its history you expect a dark and dingy jail but the complex you enter is a bright, sunlit courtyard.

The Cellular Jail in Port Blair is a prison where Indians fighting for freedom from the British were exiled and incarcerated under very inhuman conditions. Today, a national memorial, this colonial prison was completed in 1906. It is called cellular because it was constructed to host only individual cells for the purpose of solitary confinement. Originally, the building had seven wings, at the centre of which was a tower with a large bell, manned by guards. Each wing had three storeys and each solitary cell was about 15 ft by about 9 ft, with a single window at a height of 9 ft. The wings were built like the spokes of a bicycle and the front of one wing overlooked the back of the other so there was no way a prisoner could communicate with another. Out of the seven cells only three remain today. The rest have been turned into a hospital and government offices. The cell in which freedom fighter Veer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) was housed has his rough blanket, a bowl, his bare bed, etc., to show how the inmates lived. His cell overlooked the hanging yard, where prisoners condemned to death were executed.

This jail is now a place of importance for visitors seeking to understand that dark period in India's history and pay homage to the martyrs who suffered there. The Jail Museum is open from 9 am to 12 noon and from 1.30 pm to 4.45 pm on all days except national holidays.

Walking through the cells and the hanging yard gives one goosebumps at the thought of how people were confined inside a place from where there was no escape. The sound and light show organised every evening is a crowd-puller and relives the history of the prison and its inmates. The emotive voice-overs by veteran actors like late Manohar Singh, late Tom Alter and late Om Puri, make the show even more poignant.  

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