Ever since the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the isolated Andaman islands were used as a prison by the British. The Cellular Jail, also called Kala Pani, was built from 1896 to 1906 as the first brick-and-mortar symbol of this dark purpose. The jail complex was named so because of the individual cells given to each inmate for solitary confinement. The inmates, mostly freedom fighters in India’s long quest for independence, were kept isolated from each other. There is an old phrase, ‘No man is an island’, which means that man cannot thrive when isolated. By placing the jail within an island, the British created a formula that could break the determined rebels. ALSO READ: 8 reasons why you must visit the Andamans
What made the Cellular Jail, now a national memorial and museum, such an ideal location for isolation was its geography and its architecture. The jail was built as a seven-wing structure connected to a single central tower. From the tower, honeycomb-like corridors extends towards the end of each of the seven wings jutting out. This, combined with the small jail cells and the dark puce color of the buildings, resulted in a claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. Today, three of the seven wings survive after facing decades of damage, especially during World War II under Japanese forces. The jail had 698 solitary cells when it was fully operational. CHECK OUT: Five places associated with Indian freedom struggle
Despite the torture, isolated atmosphere and solitary confinement, freedom fighters serving time in the Cellular Jail would still end up discussing ideas, conducting debates and exchanging books in defiance of the British. After a series of hunger strikes and deaths, political prisoners in the jail were repatriated in 1937-38. Post independence, the former inmates of the island prison came together to petition the government to preserve it as a national memorial. The proposal was accepted, and the cellular jail today holds a photo and exhibition gallery, an art gallery and an eternal flame of freedom, called the Swatantrata Jyot.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is as given below. The best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also specified.