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Port Blair

Port Blair is named for Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company, who unsuccessfully attempted to establish a colony in 1789. Port Blair was re-established in 1858, as the site for a British penal colony. This was originally on Viper Island, named after Lieutenant Blair's vessel ...
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Port Blair is named for Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the Port BlairBritish East India Company, who unsuccessfully attempted to establish a colony in 1789. Port Blair was re-established in 1858, as the site for a British penal colony. This was originally on Viper Island, named after Lieutenant Blair's vessel, The Viper. The convicts, mostly political prisoners, suffered life imprisonment at hard labor under degrading, even cruel conditions. Many were hanged, while others died of disease and starvation.

Between 1864 and 1867 a penal establishment was built with convict labor on the northern side of Ross Island. These structures are now in ruins.

A crucial part of the Sherlock Holmes novel "The Sign of Four" takes place in this penal colony, depicted from the point of view of a convict.
As the Indian freedom movement continued to grow in the late Nineteenth Century an enormous Cellular Jail was constructed between 1896 and 1906 to house even more Indian convicts, mostly political prisoners, in solitary confinement. It is also known as "Kala Pani" (translated as "Black Waters"), the name was given to it for the torture and ill-treatment towards the Indian Freedom Fighters.


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