Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Speaking Tree

I always felt that a tree will have many stories to tell (if it could speak) Here is one tree who has witnessed an important part of the Indian history even though being 1200 kms away from the Indian mainland. 

I am talking about the lone Peepal tree standing in the courtyard of the Cellular jail

It was uprooted in the storm of June 1998, replanted, nurtured and survived to tell the tale of life in the cellular jail.
 There is a light and sound show held every evening, and most of the story is said by this tree (actor Om Puri has lend his voice) You can hear him in the video.

Two wings of the jail is lighted up which transforms it from this

To this 

The sound system is good and the show could improve by cutting out the patriotic songs and giving more emphasis on history. Maybe some sort of visual projection would enhance the show.
The jail had seven wings. Here is a model of how it used to look 

663 cells in the jail were specially built for solitary confinement. Each cell was sealed off by iron grill door and a grilled ventilator. 

Among the exhibits, there are two photographs showing the progress of the construction.

A unique feature of the jail was the total absence of communication between the prisoners of two wings since the front of one wing faced the back of the other.

A single guard on duty could supervise all the seven wings from his vantage point from the central tower. 


A view of the open sea from the terrace

Among the inmates was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (the Port Blair Airport is named after him) In March 1868, 238 prisoners tried to escape. Within a month all were caught and 87 of them were ordered to be hanged.
One of the three nooses and the actual trap door marked in white.

Also noticed that about 70% of the inmates incarcerated there were from Bengal. This is just one of the slabs put up there.

Incidentally only three wings of the seven stands as of now. It would have been only one, had it not been for a letter written by Mrs Indira Gandhi to the Home Minister in Sep 1968 (I saw this entry in the visitor’s book)

The Japanese occupied the islands for three years during World War II 

One of the tower bolts in the exhibit room (typically from the British era) 

And some of the exhibits 

A final view of the entrance


Rabbit said...

Thank you for that refresher on Indian history.

TexWisGirl said...

wow, the original 7 wings is an amazing design! glad they saved what they did.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Great article! Thanks for sharing! It was a cruel place during a cruel period.

Sandee said...

I would love to visit this jail. It's more like a prison to me, but what a concept of locking people away with only one guard.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

magiceye said...

You have covered the jail beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for refreshing our memory. We had been to Andaman trip last year.

You have put every thing in nice words and of course with good photos.

R P Madiwale.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,
Your picture-blog on the Cellular Jail in the Andamans presents a poignant story of India's fight for Independence, and the travails that ordinary citizens had to endure !
Thanks for sharing it.
Here's wishing you well and my best for more enlightening photo-blogs from you!
Bharat Wakhlu

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe for sharing vital info about such a historic place ..I am dying to visit this place asap none the less it is my priority !!!
U G Kulkarni

Ravindra Deo said...

Thanks Joe for sharing Andaman story. I am propose to visit this place in near future.
R. C. Deo.

troutbirder said...

Fascinating blog. Thanks so much for sharing...:)

Liz A. said...

Gives new meaning to the cliche "if these walls could talk".

Splendid Market said...

An interesting peek into a part of Indian history, the jail floor plan is brilliant.

Barbara Fisher said...

Such an interesting post, I knew nothing of the history of the Cellular jail and found it fascinating if gruesome. Thank you for sharing all the photographs.

I used to be a great climber of trees. My favourite and the one I spent many hours in was a large Horse Chestnut growing in the centre of the village. I often hid in its branches reading, dreaming and occasionally doing my homework! People from the village sometimes stood under the tree to share a little gossip not realising I was there. I wish I could sit it in that tree now, but I don’t think I could climb it any more. I am a tiny part of the trees history, but it is a large part of mine.

Anonymous said...

Azadi ke charche waha jaha zindagiya azaad ho jati hai!! Superb post.little know facts.great piece of information!! Keep going!!

Gail said...

How absolutely amazing. I am glad the tree was saved and is able to continue its tale.

I love trees and history so this was right up my alley.

Thank you.

Krishnamurthy Gopalan said...

Speaking tree speaks the truth likewise yr articles given us depth information with film incorprated. wonderful informations.Likewise we need more sharing under the banner SPEAKING TREE
Murthy g.k.

Mary Kirkland said...

So glad to hear that tree that was uprooted was able to be replanted. That noose on the other hand is creepy and sad. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I've wondered about trees since they outlive us. They've been around through so many different eras.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful tour of the cellular jail.

Lowcarb team member said...

I am so pleased the tree survived...
What a very interesting post to read and your photo's / images were so good to. It looks as if a lot of visitors do take time to stop, visit and learn some history.

All the beet Jan

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

The tree stands as the lone witness to the sufferings of so many freedom fighters! Very interesting photographs and write-up. This time, I watched the video..the voiceover by Om Puri perfectly suits the ambience.

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Preeti said...

I had been there some 5 years back. Especially the light-sound show makes u feel very heavy at heart. Considering how hard our ancestors wanted to give us the Life we now have! And.. there are also some cells still with blood stains on them. Had you been around the punishment exhibits too?

Witty said...

Andamans Islands is my home, my paradise.
My summary of a short visit to the Isles.

ANNA said...

Te dejo mi blog de poesia por si quTe dejo mi blog de poesia por si quieres criticar gracias.
Me gusta mucho el tuyo.

ANNA said...

Te dejo mi blog de poesia por si quTe dejo mi blog de poesia por si quieres criticar gracias.
Me gusta mucho el tuyo.

Sujatha Sathya said...

very interesting article. so much info on the famous jail. and the history connected with it made it a nice read !

akk said...

Fascinating write up.I have seen it all myself,and the pics and the commentary made me relive the wonderful trip I had

Pilar Flores said...

How interesting. It is certainly an impressive building.
It is good that it was not demolished, it is essential not to forget history so as not to repeat mistakes.