The hilly city of Port Blair is the best example of scenic beauty coalesced with striking history. Established during the reign of British rule in India, the place serves as the major attraction of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With the amalgam of different tribes and religions, the place truly tots up as an intriguing destination for the itchy feet. The prominence of Port Blair evolved with the colonial cellular jail Kala Pani, which is infamous in history as the 'place of death'. Now declared as a national memorial, the prison complex echoes with the unheard trials and tribulations, the ruthless treatment, the agonies of its inmates, including many Indian revolutionaries. The museums of the place, displaying the glory, struggle and richness of Port Blair is a hot favorite among the tourists. So on your visit to this interesting place, don't forget to explore some of its noted museums as there is no better source than museums to know more about the region in detail. To get a historical overview of the city, go through the writing below.
Port Blair History
With the increase in the number of local rebellions and small crimes, the Bengal government established a new penal colony in the South West region of Andaman and named it Port Blair in the honor of Lieutenant Archibald Blair, the noted officer of British East India. After two long years, the penal colony was shifted to the northeastern region of Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis in the memory of Admiral William Cornwallis. After shifting the colony to Port Cornwallis, many of the prisoners died because of diseases, forcing the government to cease its operation. The colony of Port Cornwallis was shut down in May 1796. However, in the year 1824, Port Cornwallis served as a meeting ground for the convoy, which fought the first Anglo-Burmese War. During 1830s and 1840s, the crewmembers were attacked and killed by local rebellions, alarming the British government to establish a new prison to serve severe punishment to such dreadful acts.
However, with the Indian Rebellion of 1857, this idea of establishing a penal complex was delayed. Actually, the rebellion movement created a huge number of prisoners forcing the British to take immediate action in building a new reformatory. The construction began in November 1857 at Port Blair, away from the salt swamp, which created problems in the old colony. This new Jail in Viper Island served as the prison cell for life imprisonment and severe punishment of rebellions and criminals. Many of the locals who were against the diplomatic rule of British were hanged here and others were made to die by starvation and physical torture.
During the early years of 19th century, the freedom struggle movement reached its new dimension, shaking up the British supremacy in India. To suppress the power of the Indians, the British government constructed a huge cellular jail between 1896 and 1906 to house many of the political prisoners, regional convicts and Indian soldiers. The jail was named Kala Pani, which literally meant black waters. Even today, this jail serves as the major attraction in Port Blair and a visit to this place is incomplete without exploring the building of Kala Pani and its horrifying history.
During the 1943 and 1944, Port Blair served as a headquarters of Azad Hind movement headed by the dynamic leader Subhash Chandra Bose. Throughout the Independence movement, Port Blair played a prominent role. In the recent years, the region has witnessed the bitter sides of nature caused by harsh earthquake and Tsunami. With all these effects, Port Blair still stands strong like a tough rock.