Cellular JailThe Cellular Jail (also known as Kala Pani, literally 'Black water', a term for the deep sea and hence exile) situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) was completed in 1906. The prison was known to house many notable Indian activists during the struggle for India's independence.
Though the actual prison was started only in 1896, the history of using the Andaman island as a prison dates back to the Indian rebellion of 1857. Shortly after the rebellion was crushed, the British sent thousands to the gallows, hung them up from trees, or tied them to cannons and blew them up. Those who survived were exiled for life to the Andamans to sever their connections with their families and their country. 200 Freedom Fighters were transported to the islands under the custody of Major James Pattison Walker, a military doctor who had been warden of the prison at Agra. Another 733 from Karachi arrived in April, 1868. More prisoners arrived from India and Burma as the settlement grew.Anyone who belonged to the Mughal royal family, or who had sent a petition to Bahadur Shah Zafar during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 was liable to be deported to the islands.
The remote islands were considered to be a suitable place to punish the freedom fighters. Not only were they isolated from the mainland, they could also be used in chain gangs to construct prisons, buildings and harbor facilities. Many died in this enterprise. They served to colonise the island for the British. By the late 19th century the independence movement had picked up momentum. As a result, the number of prisoners being sent to the Andamans started growing and the need for a high-security prison was felt.
Architecture: The building had seven wings, at the centre of which a central tower served as the fulcrum and was used by guards to keep watch on the inmates. The wings forked out of the tower in straight lines, much like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large bell was kept in the tower to raise an alarm in any eventuality.
Each of the seven wings had three stories upon completion. There were no dormitories and a total of 698 cells. Each cell was 4.5 metres x 2.7 metres in size with a ventilator located at a height of three metres. The name, cellular jail, was derived due to this solitary formation of the cells that prevented any prisoner from communicating with any other.
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