Tag Archives: indian independence

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 18: R for ROSS ISLAND | Remains of History

~~ It feels good to be lost in the right direction ~~

Click by me (sometimes i manage to capture something nice)

Ross Island was discovered by Archibald Blair, a prominent hydrographer of the East India Company and later Governor General of India in the late 18th century. Ross Island once an administrative headquarter of the Britishers is just few miles from the Port Blair before the moved out from here to Port Blair due to the 1941’s earthquake.Until then the Britishers settled in the Ross Island with their families and all the basic amenities like Bakery, Church, Water Distillation plant, Hospital, swimming pool, tennis court etc was made available for the families. 

Water Distillation Unit

This made it easier for the British officers to row down to Port Blair and monitor the construction of the Cellular Jail which is visible from the island. Also, the name of the island was given after Sir Daniel Ross, a known marine survivor of the days.

The port at Ross Island

Currently the Indian Navy has rebuilt some of the remaining structures like the bakery to make these remain for a little more longer in the history. Below is an image of the Church in the 1940’s and now.

The Church back in 1940’s at Ross Island
The Church now

This island has no settlement and only people who are put up here are the Indian Navy for security reasons. Tourists generally come here for 2 to 3 hours considering its one of the must visit place in your Andaman vacation travel, but if ask me it’s a place where you can spend a whole day and still not want to leave it.

Did you notice the peacock?

The best part about this island is you can walk around the coastline and complete one full circle of the island spread over 70 acres:) while witnessing beautiful seascape, trees, birds, peacocks and deer  up close which would be a breathtaking moment as it’s not possible in today’s city life where all you can see is buildings, malls and roads around you.

Shades of blueeeee

Since the island is right in the middle of the sea, one can experience cool wind breeze which is very refreshing.  

The beach is very small in width on the other end, also if you notice every where boards are placed stating not to loiter the place.

One can explore all the remains of the British settlement and this might even surprise you that they had even built up tramlines. There is another theory which says there is a high possibility of a underground sea tunnel which was built from Ross Island to Port Blair. The exit point being under the huge Mahatma Gandhi Statue reading a book in the Gandhi Park. 

The Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands occurred in 1942 during the WWII. The Japanese bunkers and cannon still stand as a memorial in this island.  
Japanese bunker

A light and sound show similar to the one in Cellular Jail is shown from Monday to Sunday except on Wednesdays and Public Holidays. The show starts at 5.15 pm and one can take the 4 pm boat from the water sports complex in Port Blair and to reach the island after the 15 min boat ride. 

North Bay Island as seen from Ross Island

Note for first timers – Do not expect any water sports activity here or restaurants except for a couple or two small tea shops run by the navy. Do carry your ID card because it would be registered in the log books of the Indian Navy. Because it is a remote island, please carry all essentials. You won’t find a shop.Do not visit the island without a watch on your hand, because you can be mesmerized by the beauty of the island and easily miss your ferry back 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ross Island by far is my favorite place/island ( 😉 ) of all the islands in Andaman and Nicobar and surprisingly this island does not have a beach. Yes! Now you may wonder how come an island does not have a beach  secondly why would a place without a beach be my favorite even though there are other beautiful places like the Radhanagar beach or the Neil Island. And I totally agree, it’s a fair question. 

Aerial image of Ross Island

My top five reasons why I love the Ross Island are  

  1. It’s just 15 to 20 minute boat ride from Port Blair and hence the most visited island. Also it’s called the gateway of Port Blair as its present right in the middle of the open ocean. 
  2. These islands have super friendly deers that come close to you (reminder: Feeding these deers is a punishable offense) 
  3. If lucky you would end up seeing a couple or more peacocks. As a kid when there were not much tourists visiting these islands, I remember looking for peacock feathers fallen on the ground and would always be lucky to get at least one.
    The old printing press

     

  4. These islands are picturesque even more because of it ruined architecture. The old remains of the British settlement now standing with the support of banyan trees and nature taking over the creation of man engulfing all of it on its own. This island definitely makes you feel nostalgic. 
  5. The best part side of the island is the back side the one which faces to the open ocean. Earlier when people used to visit these islands for picnic they would settle down almost near the port side and have fun but my family always used to walk down to the other side. A 10 minute walk and the other side of these islands is open. Before Tsunami there was a small stretch of beach where we would spread our mats and sit and have fun but post Tsunami, the beach got sinked. It was because of Ross Island that the Capital city, Port Blair was saved from one of history’s tragic earthquake and tsunami, the water waves which were almost 10-15 meters in height got divided into two directions once it hit the Ross Island. The damage done was the submersion of the small peaceful beach on this opposite side I am talking. Now It’s just few rocks and then directly the open ocean. 

So yeah there you go, all the reasons why I love this island. And all my reasons justified in these images you saw so far. I must tell you this is one island when you won’t stop clicking pictures 🙂 

Still not over, hold on few more 😛

Night view of Ross Island from Port Blair – PC : Experience Andamans
The coconut trees
The Banyan trees that engulf the whole island

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 11: K for KAALAPANI (Story of Prison Life)

Kaalapani (derived from Sanskrit words ‘Kal’ which means Time or Death and ‘Pani’ which means Water), was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. This was the Cellular Jail about which i had spoken in my previous blog. 

Why was it called Kaalapani? – Apart from the tortures the prisoners went through in the Cellular Jail there were many other factors that added to the name of Kaalapani. There was no escape from these islands back then. Even if one managed to escape from the Jail, it was difficult to survive the harsh climate of the islands. Most of the prisoners who tried escaping , died due to diseases like Malaria and ones who survived the nature were killed by the native Tribes of the island. There was no way one could swim and reach anywhere but be deadlocked in these chain of islands.

I would like to share the STORY OF PRISON LIFE from the autobiographies of some of the famous freedom fighters who spent their youth in getting India its freedom.

Extract from the autobiography of Barindra Kumar Ghosh
“The next morning we came out and washed our faces and then had for the first time the darshan of GANJI, otherwise called KANJI. It means boiled rice churned in water – one may say a sort of rice-porridge. We were given each a dabbu full of this dainty…………“The daily ration per meal is as follows—Rice 6 oz, flour for roti 5 oz, dal 2 oz, salt 1 dram, oil ¾ dram and vegetable 8 oz…………….“Each of us was given an iron plate and an iron dish, red with rust and smeared with oil. These could not be cleansed at all. “A half pant, a Kurta and a white cap were provided for each prisoner. But he was not provided with any change for taking bath except a langoti which hardly covered the nudity.“……….The langoti we were given to put on while bathing could not in the least defend any modesty. Thus when we had to change our clothes we were in as helpless a condition as Draupadi in the assembly of the Kauravas. There was no help. We hung our heads low and somehow finished the bathing affair. Then I understood that here there was no such thing as gentleman, not even perhaps such a thing as man. Here were only convicts,”
“After finishing the ‘breakfast’ with the ganji or kanji every prisoner had to commence the work allotted to him which kept him engaged practically the whole of the day with a short break at midday for lunch. The principal work which was also the hardest was connected with coconut.
“To pound the coir and extract fibers out of it, to prepare again ropes out of those fibers to grind dry coconut and also mustard in the machine and bring out oil, to make bulbs for hooks from the shells-these formed the principal items of work for the prisoners,………
“The most difficult work was coir-pounding and oil-grinding………… Each one was given the dry husk of twenty coconuts. The husk had first to be placed on a piece of wood and then to be beaten with a wooden hammer till it became soft. Then the outer skin had to be removed. Then it was dipped in water and moistened and then again one had to pound it. By sheer pounding the entire husk inside dropped off, only the fibers remaining. These fibers had then to be dried in the sun and cleaned. Each one was expected to prepare daily a roll of such fibers weighing one seer” 

Based on autobiographies of Savarkar & Ullaskar Dutt
Oil- grinding was the most difficult work allotted to prisoners in the Cellular Jail. This was the hardest work and caused the death of some, insanity of one and a general strike of the prisoners. It furnishes the most pathetic evidence of callousness bordering on inhumanity on the part of the authorities.
Savarkar, describes it ………. “We were to be yoked like animals to the handle that turned the wheel .Hardly out of bed, we were ordered to wear a strip of cloth, were shut up in our cell and made to turn the wheel of the oil mill. ……….. . The door was opened only when meal was announced. The man came in and served the meal in the pan and went away and the door was shut. If after washing his hands one were to wipe away the perspiration of his body,the jamadar who was the worst of gangsters in the whole lot would go at him with loud abuse. There was no water for washing hands. Drinking water was to be had only by propitiating the jamadar, while you were at kolu; you felt very thirsty. The waterman gave no water except for a consideration which was to palm off to him some tobacco in exchange. If one spoke to jamadar his retort was,” A prisoner is given only two cups of water and you have already consumed three. Whence can I bring you more water? From your father?” we have put down the retort of the jamadar in the most decent language possible. If water could not be had for wash and drink what can be said of water for bathing?

While describing the prison life Ullaskar Dutt narrates-“In our village only oxen are harnessed to the oil presses and even they can not extract more than 16 pounds of mustard –oil in one day. Here, in the Cellular Jail, I was harnessed to the oil mill with two other prisoners and were required to produce eighty pounds of coconut oil by evening. The Jamadars would make us gallop and if our pace slackened, we were beaten mercilessly. We would stumble and fall, and be beaten senseless everyday.”

Such were the hardships that the freedom fighters faced every single minute of their lives spend in the Kaalapani. If you ever get a chance to visit the islands, if not the beaches make sure you visit the Cellular Jail. Feel the unbelievable sacrifices thousands of young men made, in the prime of their lives, for the cause of India’s Independence.

P.S : missed the post for yesterday J ,gonna publish it tomorrow (facepalm 😦 ) and am sure you would love it when published. It’s going to be about the famous Tribes of the islands – JARAWAS

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 09: I FOR ISLANDS AND THE INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE

Content Courtesy – Andaman Tourism

I realized that as am doing my study on the Andaman Islands there are quite a few things which even i was not aware 🙂 Something to be mentioned in the #ReflectionPost 🙂 For instance, 

The Chinese knew of the Andaman & Nicobar  Islands over a 1000 years ago and called it the ‘Yeng-t-omag’.  The Andaman & Nicobar Islands also find a place in the first map of the world drawn by Ptolemy, the Roman geographer during the 2nd Century. He called it ‘Angdaman islands (Islands of good fortune). During the 6th C entury I’T Sing, a Buddhistmonk, named it ‘Lo-jen – kuo’ (Land of the Naked). Two Arab travelers during  the 8th Century referred to these  islands  as ‘Lakhabalus or Najabulus ‘(Land of the Naked). The great traveller Marco Polo called it ‘Angamanian’.

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands remained the abode of the Negritos and the Mongoloids,  for centuries.

pit created by japanese during WWII

The history of these islands could be divided into 4 broad periods:

a)  the period of seclusion
b) the British regime 
c) the Japanese regime
d) and the Post-Independence period.

and.nic.in

The modern history of Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be traced back to 1789 when the Governor General of British India commissioned a survey of these Islands by Lt Archibald Blair, who conducted the first  topo-cum-hydrographical survey and reported suitability for human settlement. Immediately thereafter, in 1790 the first settlement  was  established at Port  Blair (then Port Cornwallis) in the present day Chatham Island by bringing Criminals from undivided India. However, high mortality due to malaria and frequent attacks by aborigines forced the settlement to be shifted to a new port in North Andaman during 1792.  However, due to natural calamities, the British left the Andman & Nicobar Islands by 1796.

Though little is known about Portuguese activities in these islands, it is evident that the Portuguese missionaries started preaching Christianity among the islanders. The Nicobarese language also reflects a few Portuguese words. The missionaries entered the Nicobar group of Islands in 17th century. 

In 1756,  the Dutch colonised Nancowry group of Islands and stayed there up to 1787. After several unsuccessful attempts to build up a colony in Nancowry, the Dutch Government ultimately handed over Nicobar group of Islands to the British, who took possession in 1869.

It was in 1857, after India’s First War of Independence, that a penal colony was attempted at Port Blair with an initial lot of 200 freedom fighter who, for the first time, attempted to over throw British rule in India. The Britishers established their colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the second time in 1858.During this colonization the British Officials and soldiers settled in large groups.
The Britishers sent the convicts from India and Burma to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They separated the Indians who fought for the country’s independence and were sent to these islands by ships. They were chained and were sent into the dense forests to fell the trees and clear the lands. They were allotted stipulated time and were ordered to complete the works within the stipulated time. The prisoners who protested were hanged to death.

The number of freedom fighters increased to 773 within 3 months.The famous “Battle of Aberdeen” between civilized men and Stone Age aborigines of Andamans was fought on 14th May 1859 at Aberdeen Bazaar. During 1869 – 70 many Wahabi Movement activists who rose against the British rule were deported from the Central and United Provinces of undivided India to Andaman.  One amongst them was Mohd. Sher Ali Khan (a Pathan),who assassinated Lord Mayo, the Viceroy and Governor General of India on 08 February  1872 at Hope Town Jetty.  Later,in the same year, Sher Ali Khan was executed in Viper Island by the British.

The first Prison and Hangman’s Noose were built at a small island named Viper. There were no sufficient cells to prison the convicts at Viper Island. Therefore, on 13 September 1893, the British Government of India, ordered the construction of Cellular jail to accommodate 600 prisoners. Prior to construction of the Cellular Jail, male convicts were held on Viper Island and women convicts at South Point.

Then occurred the great uprising of moplahs, the Moplah Rebellion during 1921 (my grandfather, mom’s dad happen to come during this time to the Islands) About 1400 Moplahs mosly from Muslim dominated districts of Ernad, Walluvanad and Calicut of Kerala were sent to Andamans with their families for rebelling against the British rule.

During World War 2 ,  the British abandoned these Islands in a haste due to  advancing Japanese Forces, allowing Japanese occupation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Japanese brutally ruled the territory for 4 years from 1942 to 1945.(i have heard sad stories from my parents about this who learnt it from their parents) During this period, Japanese built heavy Military infrastructure in  these  Islands. 

Port Blair harbour was used as a forward surveillance base for Sea planes of the Japanese forces. A few months after the Japanese occupation, allied forces succeeded in blocking Sea lanes threatening the Island population to the brink of starvation. Japanese successfully averted the disaster through enforced intensive community of farming of tubers like tapioca and sweet potato. Extensive road network expansion was also undertaken at that time for connecting Port Blair outlying villages and cultivate land. 

On  7th  October 1945, the  Armada carrying 116 Indian infantry brigade of South East Asian allied Land force under the command of Brigadier A.J. Solomon surrounded Port Blair, compelling about 20,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender on 9th  October 1945.

With the advent of Indian Independence on 15th August 1947, these islands were merged with the Indian main stream.

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY03: C FOR CELLULAR JAIL

We yield to none in our love, admiration and respect for the Buddha-the Dharma-the Sangha. They are all ours. Their glories are ours and ours their failures.”  – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 

Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, stands as a dark reminiscence of the British rule in the Indian subcontinent. This most dreaded and grueling colonial prison situated in the remote archipelago was used by the British particularly to exile Indian political prisoners. Isolated from the mainland, this jail, also referred as Kala Pani (where Kala means death or time and Pani means water in Sanskrit) witnessed the most atrocious punishments imposed on prisoners. India’s struggle for independence saw imminent freedom fighters like Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar being incarcerated in this jail. 

The jail is now open to public viewing as a National Memorial, and its museum gives one a glimpse of years of India’s struggle for freedom.

Foundation & History of the Jail

Although the Andaman Islands were used by the British as a prison soon after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (the Sepoy Mutiny), the foundation of this jail was laid in 1896. The result of what was considered India’s First War of Independence however went in favor of the British who suppressed the revolt executing many rebels and transferring the rest to Andaman for lifetime exile.

The rebels in hundreds were sent to the island where they remained under the custody of jailer David Barry and military doctor Major James Pattison Walker. 238 prisoners who tried to escape the jail in March 1868 were caught in April of whom 87 were hanged. More and more patriots who raised voice against the colonial rule were convicted and deported here from British-controlled India and Burma. 

The prisoners dreaded the waters of Andamans and being isolated from the mainland there were no way out for them to escape. The island became an apt place for the British to punish the freedom fighters. The prisoners were chained and made to work in constructing buildings, prisons and harbour facilities in pursuit of colonising Andaman for the British. With the upsurge of Indian independence movement in the late 19th century, several prisoners were sent to Andaman that necessitated for a higher security prison.

Sir Charles James Lyall, home secretary in the governance of the British Raj and A. S. Lethbridge, a surgeon in the British administration suggested introduction of a “penal stage” in the transportation sentence given to a prisoner so that the prisoner face harsh treatment for a certain period after deportation to the Andamans. This led to construction of the Cellular Jail, work of which commenced in 1896 and finished in 1906.

The current day view , clicked on 11th Feb 2017 PC : Saketh

In 1942 the Japanese overpowered the British in the Andaman Islands driving them out of the islands. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited Andaman during this time. Following the end of the ‘Second World War’, in 1945 the British regained control of the islands. 

Design of the Cellular Jail

The building of the Cellular Jail originally had seven straight wings each connected to a tower in the middle giving the whole construction a look of something like a bicycle wheel with each wing attached with the centre tower like a spoke of the wheel. This design was based on English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s concept of the Panopticon. Puce coloured bricks were brought from Burma to construct the building. The tower in the centre that formed the point of intersection of all the seven wings served as a watch point for the guards of the jail to keep vigil on prisoners. It had a large bell for raising alarm.

The wings, each of which had three storeys, were constructed in such manner that the front of one wing faces the back of another so that one inmate in a wing cannot see or communicate with another inmate in any of the adjacent wings. Even the cells in a wing were in a row so that inmates in the same wing also cannot communicate or see each other. Each cell housed only one prisoner ensuring minimal chance of communication among inmates thus isolating them from each other. This feature of solitary confinement in individual cells earned the jail its name, “Cellular”. There were a total of 693 cells, each measuring 4.5 m by 2.7 m with a ventilator located at a height of 3 m. There were no dormitories in the jail.

Life in the Jail

Notable freedom fighters confined in the jail included Batukeshwar Dutt, Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, and the Savarkar brothers – Babarao Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar among others. Being in solitary confinement the Savarkar brothers were unaware of each other’s presence in the same jail for two years.

Many freedom fighters in the jail went through inhuman and unimaginable tortures, the very thought of which brings chills down the spines. The jail drew attention when its inmates observed hunger strikes in the early 1930s. 

Bhagat Singh’s associate in the freedom movement, Mahavir Singh went on a hunger strike in protest of such cruel treatment but died when authorities tried to feed him milk forcibly which went to his lungs. His body was thrown into the sea. In 1937-38 following intervention by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore the government decided on repatriating the freedom fighters. 

Additional information: 

Visit Timing & Entrance Fee

It remains open on all days excepting national holidays. Entry fee per person is Rs. 30/-. Other charges include Rs. 200/- for still camera, Rs. 1000/- for video camera and Rs. 10,000/- for film shooting per day with prior permission. 

Light & Sound Show

It regularly holds Light & Sound (Son-et-Lumiere) shows on India’s freedom struggle in Hindi and English excepting on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The price of ticket for the light and sound show is Rs. 50/- per adult. 


Wana know more?  – There is a movie called Kalapani which shows the struggle of the prisoners of these Jail who fought for the freedom we have today. 

Also you can watch this documentary on the Cellular Jail (it is in English ) to have a real feel of this place that would send shivers down the spine. 

Happy Blogging 🙂 I hope everyone is having a good time !!!