Jail or Prison is such a place where nobody wants to go intentionally. Spending time behind the bars in a dark prison cell, wearing a jail uniform, and having the basic jail food there, maybe a nightmare for us. But what if you get a chance to walk into jail as a free soul and leave at your own whim?
India has few prisons which are tourist attractions for various reasons. Some are famous for historical values; some have interesting museums and yet others provide pay and stay facilities. Here you will get 6 famous jails in India that have opened their doors for Tourism.
1. Cellular Jail :
Where: Port Blair, Andaman
Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Pani. The prison was used by the British Government for the purpose of exiling political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Although the prison complex itself was constructed between 1896 and 1906, the British had been using the Andaman Islands as a prison since the days in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The bricks used to build the building were brought from Burma.
The building has had 7 wings, at the center of which a tower served as the intersection and was used by guards to keep watch on the inmates. Each of the 7 wings had three stories upon completion. It was designed in such a way that communication between prisoners was impossible. Today the jail is open to tourists every day except for public holidays. The light and sound show at Cellular Jail is a must-see while on an Andaman trip.
2. Yerawada Jail :
Where: Pune, Maharashtra
Yerawada Jail is the largest jail in the state of Maharashtra and also one of the largest prisons in South Asia. The jail is spread over 512 acres, holds over 5000 prisoners. Yerawada Jail was built in 1871 by the British Government. Under British rule, the jail housed many Indian freedom fighters including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and many more.
As a tourist, you can explore the two historic group cells in Yerawada Jail, named after Gandhi and Tilak. These don’t house inmates. Tourists also can witness the faasi yard where death sentences are executed. So, if you are planning for Pune, a trip to Yerawada Jail must be on your itinerary.
3. Tihar Jail :
Where: New Delhi
Tihar Jail is the largest complex of prisons in India as well as in South Asia. It is located in Tihar Village, 3 km from Janakpuri, to the west of New Delhi. Originally, Tihar was a maximum-security prison run by the State of Punjab. In 1966 control was transferred to Delhi. The prison is styled as a correctional institution, whose main objective is to convert its inmates into ordinary members of society by providing them with useful skills, education, and respect for the law.
You will be surprised to know that there is a prison industry within the walls, manned wholly by inmates, which bears the brand Tihar. Over the years its activities have expanded to include Carpentry, Weaving (Handloom), Tailoring, chemicals, Handmade paper, Commercial art, and Bakery.
In Tihar Jail, you can spend a typical day like other prisoners in the jail and wear jail uniforms, do all activities that prisoners do, eat food cooked by the prisoners, and are not allowed to use mobile phones. However, the visitors will be allowed to stay only with selected inmates of the prisons. They will be shortlisted based on their track record. Isn’t it thrilling?
4. Hijli Jail
Where : Kharagpur, West Bengal
It is a former detention camp operated during the period of British colonial rule in India. It played a significant role in the Indian independence movement. It was opened in 1930 to house the protestors and armed agitators during the non-cooperation movement. In 1931, a firing incident was taken place in this jail which is infamous as the Hijli firing. This is the only known incident of firing inside a prison or detention camp in India.
The detention camp was closed in 1937 and was reopened in 1940. In 1942 it was closed for the final time and the detainees were transferred elsewhere. During the Second World War, it was occupied by the US Air Force. Today, the camp is also known for being the birthplace of IIT Kharagpur. In 1990, a part of the former detention camp buildings was converted to house the Nehru Museum of Science and Technology.
5. Sangareddy Prison
This is a 220-year-old colonial-era jail that is now converted into a museum. As per the PWD Records, this jail was constructed in the year 1796, during the Prime Ministership of Salar Jung I. This prison is spread across an area of 3 acres, out of which the jail building occupies 1 acre.
This place was converted into a museum in June 2016. It has been providing visitors a unique experience of the day-to-day life of prisoners in India under the ‘Feel the Jail’ scheme started by the Prisons Department of the Govt. of Telangana. It offers 24-hour confinement to visitors interested in spending time behind the bars to experience the feeling of being under detention.
6. Viper Island
Where: Andaman Island
Viper Island is a small island in Andaman. It has a long history. The construction of the Viper Jail was carried out during 1864-67. However, the importance of Viper Island as a penal colony declined after the construction of the Cellular Jail in 1906. Upon arrival at Viper Island, you will see the remains of the former prison guardhouse beside the pier head. The two-storied jail building stands as a semi-ruin.
The conditions at the jail were such that the place got the notorious name, "Viper Chain Gang Jail." The warden of this jail often changed but inmates used to call the warden "The black mamba". Brij Kishore Singh Deo, popularly known as Maharaja Jagannath of Puri, was kept in the Viper Jail, where he died in 1879.
However, Viper Island is a serene, beautiful tourist destination and can be approached in 20 minutes from the Phoenix Bay jetty. This place is visited by a number of tourists as it has multiple attractions with historical importance and has mesmerizing picnic spots with natural picturesque environments.
So, if you are tired of visiting routine kinds of places and are wishing to visit some different kind of place, then you don’t have to think twice to visit these interesting jails in India.