Port Blair
Port Blair

Port Blair is the largest town and a municipal
council in Andaman district in the Andaman Islands and the capital of the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India. It lies on the east coast of South Andaman
Island and is the main entry point to the islands. Port Blair is the headquarters for the Indian
district of South Andaman, and the local administrative sub-division, which is also called Port Blair. It is the headquarters of the Andaman and
Nicobar Command, the first integrated theatre command of the armed forces. It is home to several museums and a major
naval base INS Jarawa of the Indian Navy, along with sea and air bases of the Indian
Coast Guard and the Indian Air Force. Port Blair is also famous for the historic
Cellular Jail and other small islands which were once home to British colonists. History In 1789 the government of Bengal established
a penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman, named Port Blair to
honor Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company. After two years, the colony moved to the northeast
part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, there was much disease and death
in the penal colony, and the government ceased operating it in May 1796. In 1824 Port Cornwallis was the rendezvous
of the fleet carrying the army to the First Anglo-Burmese War. In the 1830s and 1840s, shipwrecked crews
who landed on the Andamans were often attacked and killed by the natives, alarming the British
government. In 1855, the government proposed another settlement
on the islands, including a convict establishment, but the Indian Rebellion of 1857 forced a
delay in its construction. However, since the rebellion provided the
British with a lot of new prisoners, it made the new Andaman settlement and prison an urgent
necessity. Construction began in November 1857 at the
renovated Port Blair, avoiding the vicinity of a salt swamp which seemed to have been
the source of many of the old colony’s problems. The penal colony 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 cruel and degrading conditions. Many were hanged, while others died of disease
and starvation. Between 1864 and 1867 a penal establishment
was also built with convict labor on the northern side of Ross Island. These structures are now in ruins. As the Indian freedom movement continued to
grow in the late 19th Century, an enormous Cellular Jail was constructed between 1896
and 1906 to house Indian convicts, mostly political prisoners, in solitary confinement. The Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Pani,
a name given to it due to the torture and general ill-treatment towards its Indian convicts. The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar’s
capital, has been named Veer Savarkar International Airport.[11] The commemorative blue plaque
on India House fixed by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England reads
“Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 1883-1966 Indian patriot and philosopher lived here.” From 1943-1944 during World War II, Port Blair
was the headquarters of the Azad Hind government under Subhas Chandra Bose. Although affected by the Tsunami and 2004
Indian Ocean earthquake, Port Blair survived sufficiently to act as a base for relief efforts
in the islands. Geography and climate
Port Blair has a tropical monsoon climate, with little variation in average temperature
and large amounts of precipitation throughout the year. All months except January, February and March
receive substantial rainfall. Demographics
As of 2011 India census, Port Blair had a population of 100,608. Males constitute 52.92% of the population
and females 47.07%. Port Blair has an average literacy rate of
89.76%, higher than the national average that is 72%. In Port Blair, male literacy is 92.79%, and
female literacy is 86.34%. 9.3% of the population is under the age of
6 years. Gallery See also
Charles James Lyall References

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