Cellular Jail in Andaman Nicobar

Built In 1896 AD
Built By The British
Location Port Blair

The Cellular Jail in Port Blair is symbolic of the hardships faced by the Indians in their endeavor to attain freedom from their colonial rulers. The jail became infamous throughout the world for the inhuman treatment meted out to the inmates by the jail officials. This monument stands and reflects the tenacity of the Indians, who were struggling to attain freedom from the shackles of the British rule.

The period of European colonization and the subsequent British rule in India had its impact on Indian architecture. The British
The British built a number of residential and administrative buildings apart from the barracks within these forts. Fort Saint George in Chennai is the oldest British fort in India built in AD 1640. It is a good example of early Colonial architecture in India having a number of residential and administrative buildings within its precincts.

The British also built magnificent churches throughout India not only to cater to the spiritual needs of the British living in India but also to spread the gospel of Christianity. In course of time, the whole of India came under the British rule. The buildings dating between 1857, when the reins of India passed into the hands of the British Crown, and 1947, when India gained independence are good examples of the colonial style of architecture.

Buildings like the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, and the Rashtrapati Bhavan or the official residence of the President of India in New Delhi etc. are examples of this style. The colonial style of architecture was a combination of the British-European style and the Indo-Islamic style, which was in itself a unique combination of Hindu and Islamic styles. This style of architecture paved the way for modern architectural styles to develop in post-independent India.

The infamous Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands is a good example of the colonial style of architecture, which developed in India during the British period.

The genesis of the Cellular Jail in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands can be traced back to the British efforts of suppressing the rampant hoards of thugs or thuggies (clan of dacoits), who ravaged large tracts of India. However, the jail became significant and grasped the imagination of the people of mainland India and abroad when, during the course of India's freedom struggle, the British began deporting political prisoners to Port Blair.

The penal settlement in Andaman goes back to 1857 (the first war of Indian independence), when the revolutionaries from the mainland were deported to this island. Though not much literary and material evidence of that colony is available, it is said that the deportees were ill treated and made to live in sub-human conditions.

The construction of the jail was started in 1896 and took 14 years to complete. Located at Aberdeen, it stands on an outcrop overlooking Sessostris Bay facing the Ross Island. The original building was a seven pronged, puce-colored brick building with a central tower as the fulcrum. Each wing was four-storied, with cells on the first three and a watchtower on the fourth.

These spanned out in straight lines from the central tower, rather like the spokes of a bicycle. The tower used to house a bell which tolled the hour, but which was also sent into a frantic, frenzied alarm during a crisis.

More great attractions can be found in the Explore Wildlife in India page.

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