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 speciality 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.
In one of the three surviving wings of the Jail is situated the District Jail. On the inside walls of the hexagonal brick built structure of the second floor of the Central Tower of the Cellular Jail, one can find the names of more than 336 freedom fighters and revolutionaries who were incarcerated in the Cellular Jail for their patriotic fervor.
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.
Convicts who were sentenced to transportation for life were sent to these islands and interned in the Cellular Jail. Many political prisoners and revolutionaries were incarcerated here during the freedom struggle. Against the tyranny of the Jail management political 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. Many prisoners had gone insane in the Jail and ended their live by committing suicide rather than subjecting themselves to the indignities heaped on them.
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.
According to Andaman and Nicobar Gazetteer the life convicts were received into the Jail for six months, where the discipline was of severest but the work was not hard. They were then transferred to the associated Jail for 18months, where the work was hard but discipline less irksome. For the next three years the life convicts lived in barracks at night and went out to labour under supervision. For that labour he received the reward, but his capabilities were studied. During the next five years, he remained a labouring convict but was eligible for the petty posts of supervision and the easier forms of labour; he also got a very small allowance for little luxuries or to save in the special savings bank. After completing 10 years in transportation he received a ticket of leave (self supporter). In that condition he earned his own living in a village, he could farm, keep cattle and marry or send for his family. But he was not free, had no civil rights and could not leave the settlement or be idle. After 20 to 25 years spent in the settlement with approved conduct, he might be absolutely released. While a self-supporter he was at first assisted with house, food and tools and paid no taxes, but after three to four years according to certain conditions he received no assistance and was charged with every public payment, which could be demanded of him, were he a free man.
Entry Timings : Jail Museum open from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:30 pm to 4:45 pm. Sunday closed. The Sound and Light show at the Cellular Jail is very popular among the tourists visiting these islands. Timing: Hindi show on all days from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm except Monday, Wednesday & Friday. English show starts at 7:15 pm.