After relaxing a few days at Havelock island, it was time to come back home. We stayed overnight at Port Blair and visited the Cellular Jail – also known as ‘Kala Paani’ jail for exiled political prisoners during India’s independence movement against the British.
Port Blair is beautiful (though more commercial and developed compared to wooded and laid back Havelock) and offers a variety of day trips to Jolly Bouy island for snorkeling, Ross island for historic buildings, North Bay island for water sports etc. The Havelock- Port Blair ferry times don’t match the flight departure times from Port Blair and visitors to Havelock island are forced to stay at least one night in Port Blair.
This being the last day of the trip we didn’t want to do anything hectic. We visited the Cellular Jail where Indian freedom fighters were exiled during the freedom struggle. An imposing structure, carefully planned with 7 wings with individual cells ( hence the name) around central watch tower that offers breath-taking views of neighboring islands. The wings were planned such the prisoners couldn’t communicate with each other and had a working area in its vicinity to make the prisoners extract coconut oil with bare hands. Poorly treated with barely anything to eat and clothe, fettered, abused and beaten, many would go insane in this hot tropical prison.
The revolutionaries and freedom fighters went on hunger strike demanding humane treatment for political prisoners. Brutal force feeding methods were used to break their fast resulting in deaths.
Ironically, the British themselves were captured as political prisoners here by the Japanese during WWII – guess they got a taste of their own medicine then. Alas, five wings of the jail were demolished.
But the remaining two wings, the central tower, the gallows, Veer Sawarkar’s cell (one of the famous inmates who wrote inspiring poetry on the cell’s walls using stones and pebbles) and the grounds are well maintained. Everyone must visit this national monument.
Its hard not to feel patriotic here. Its hard not to value our independence and freedom here.
It was a sobering visit and its best to leave it for the last day of the trip.
With its breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, crystal clear water for snorkeling and fresh seafood, Andaman is a paradise. We would love to come back with our family and possibly learn to Scuba Dive and visit other islands 🙂