The Cellular Jail was regarded by the freedom fighters all over the country as a place of pilgrimage. It was here the British Government used to send “dangerous prisoners”. The construction of the Cellular Jail was taken up in 1898 and completed by about 1906.
The structural specialty of the Cellular Jail is that the whole jail consists of cells. Each cell was meant for one inmate only and hence the name. Cellular Jail originally had seven, three storeyed wings with a total of 698 cells, radiating from a central tower which had an additional storey to facilitate watch and ward.
The nationalist prisoners were the for the first time brought to this jail on March 10, 1858. Later in 1872, the British converted it into a cellular one following the assassination of Lord Mayo by a convict and named it as ‘Kalapani’. This jail has also been the location for many Indian movies, the most famous being a Malayalam movie ‘Kalapani’. Convicts were sent to these islands and interned in the Cellular Jail. Many political prisoners and revolutionaries were prisoned here during the freedom struggle. In those days, prisoners were not allowed to communicate with their friends and relatives on the mainland except once in a year. Even the letters coming from mainland and newspapers subscribed by the prisoners were censored before being given to them. While fighting against this tyranny some political leaders had to lay down their lives and many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and ended their live by committing suicide.
In the Cellular Jail Museum more than 200 photographs of all freedom fighters who were in the Jail are exhibited. Reports about the atrocities, the Jail authorities used to commit on these days and published in national newspapers on the mainland are on display. Certain paintings on the barbarous treatment meted out to the prisoners, utensils, vessels, uniforms etc. of the prisoners used in those days and the tools, machines which the prisoners were made to operate, on great personal risk are all in the museum reminding us the untold sufferings of the freedom fighters while languishing in the Cellular Jail.
In 1941 earthquake caused considerable damage to the Jail building. During the Japanese occupation from March 1942 to October 1954 further damage was caused to the building. All this finally resulted in the demolition of four out of the seven wings of the Jail. At preset there are only three wings and these stand as silent monument to the great patriot’s and martyrs who were interned in this Jail, who had to sacrifice their lives at the altar of their country’s freedom. The jail was declared a national memorial on December 30, 1997.
A sound and light show is held here about the historical events regarding this jail. Admission fee to the Cellular Jail: Rs.5
Camera / Video: Rs.10 / 50
Timings: 9 00 – 12 30 hrs & 13 30 – 17 00 hrs from Tuesdays to Thursdays.