Saturday, 27 December 2008

Port Blair - The cellular jail

Port Blair was a failed attempt to establish a settlement in 1789 and was largely forgotten until 1858 when a penal colony for convicts was established by the British Indian government.

The cellular jail

Reason for this was because the 1st Indian Independence War was fought in 1857 and the English needed a place where to dump the freedom fighters. In the beginning convicts were just left onto the main Island (Port Blair) while the Englishmen stayed on Ross Island away from the con's. However one of the convicts, Sher Ali Khan, managed to kill Lord Mayo during an inspection of Port Blair.

As a result of the killing the cellular jail was ordered to be built in 1893.

A massive complex with seven wings in a star shape was built facing Phoenix Bay. I wonder what always makes people in power to build jails on the best spot. The view is stunning from the hillock where it is built.

In this prison was housed only political prisoners that were used and abused by their British tormentors. I'm sure this incident would be preferred to be forgotten as it is an ugly depiction that is today displayed for tourists at the Sound and Light show at the cellular jail.

Today only 3 wings remain of the jail as other parts have been taken in use as a hospital and other parts has been demolished. However, this monument serves as another memory of mans brutality against fellow man. This prison could be compared to the Cambodian Tuol Sleng and Killing Fields as well as German concentration camps in it's reminder of cruelty inflicted on men just because they wanted to be independent.

English language shows are daily at 1730hrs and tickets cost 20 INR for adults. The show is very patriotic and kind of long winding, but audio and light is working properly and is done slightly theatrically.

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