day in Corbett
Yatra / Trek
The history of the British
in the Andaman and Nicobar islands began in 1788 when Lord Cornwallis, the
then Governor General of India, thought of colonizing the islands and
instructed Lt. Archibald Blair and Lt. R. H. Colebrook of the Royal Navy to
Survey the islands and submit a report on their suitability for a British
According to the
recommendation of these two officers the first British settlement was founded
in 1789 on Chatham Island, near Port Cornwallis (Now Port Blair). After the
Great Revolt in 1857, the British Government thought of establishing a penal
settlement here. In March 1858, the first penal settlement was established,
with 200 prisoners, mostly rebels from the Indian Army. Initially the convicts
were kept in a jail at Viper island, which is about 15 minutes boat ride from
The island had a jail,
gallows, Kutcheri, Doctor's residence, etc. Subsequently, this Jail was
abandoned and the Cellular Jail at Port Blair was constructed.
the time of successive Superintendents, E. H. Man, General Steward, and
Col. Cadell, the number of convicts increased and they were subjected to
inhuman tortures at the hands of the British jailors. The foundation of
the famous Cellular Jail was laid in 1896. The building was completed in
1906. Many changes, both in policy and practice, took place during
Colonel Ferrar's time, which, inter alia, included concession to the
convicts, mainland visit, etc. Cellular
Jail, located at Port Blair, is a mute witness to the tortures meted out
to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this Jail. The Jail,
completed in the year 1906 acquired the name, 'cellular' because it is
entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement of the
It originally was
a seven pronged, puce colored building with a Central Tower acting as
its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honey-comb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out
of seven prongs are intact. The Jail now a place of pilgrimage for all
freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial.
The penal settlement
established here by the British after the First War of Independence-e in
1857 was the beginning of the agonizing story of the massive and awful
Jail at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail. The patriots who
raised their voice against the British Raj were sent to this Jail, where
Netaji Subash Chandra
Bose hoisted the first Tri-Color on 30th December, 1943 at a place near
this Jail. During the 50th year of India's Independence, the living
freedom fighters and widows of the freedom fighters, who were
incarcerated in the Cellular Jail were honored by the President of India
on 30th December, 1997. A commemorative coin and a postal stamp on
Cellular Jail were also released on this occasion.
The door of the cells
were so made that while walking in the prisoners feet rubbed against
the walls so that he was always in a state of pain and suffering.
formation also helped in single guard manning the prisoners. The British
officers stayed at the Island across, so that in case of mutiny they
are safe. The prisoners were punished brutally and were expected to
take out minimum output of work.
on fierce convicts were sent here but after the struggle of independence
the freedom fighters were sentenced here so that they do not interact
with the outside world. Mahatma Gandhi was also imprisoned here.
of the little known freedom fighters Veer Savarkar was imprisoned in
solitary confinement for a period of ten years and during which his
younger brother was also besides him but he never came to know of it.
There are many many
tales of this cellular jail. I have been to the solitary confinement
cell which has no cross ventilation and light. Our freedom has not been
gained so easily from Britishers.
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