|Etymology||from the ship H.M.S Viper which was found shipwrecked near the island|
|Location||Bay of Bengal|
|Adjacent bodies of water||Indian Ocean|
|Area||0.335 km2 (0.129 sq mi)|
|Length||0.88 km (0.547 mi)|
|Width||0.50 km (0.311 mi)|
|Coastline||2.7 km (1.68 mi)|
|Highest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Island group||Andaman Islands|
|Island sub-group||Port Blair Islands|
|Largest settlement||Viper Island (RV)|
|Telephone code||031927 |
The island lies 4 km (2 mi) west of Port Blair.
Viper Island derives its name from the vessel H.M.S. Viper in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1789. The vessel, it is believed, met with an accident and its wreckage was found near the island. This small island was the site of the jail where the British used to imprison convicts and political prisoners. It has the ruins of a gallows atop a hillock.
The jail was abandoned when the Cellular Jail was constructed in 1906. In any talk about Andaman and its role in the freedom struggle, it is the Cellular Jail that finds frequent mention. But, many years before the Cellular Jail was constructed, it was the jail at Viper Island that was used by the British to inflict the worst form of torture and hardship on those who strove to free the country from the British rule.
The need for building a jail there was felt only after the British set up a penal settlement at Port Blair in 1858 to house political prisoners of the Indian Rebellion. Ross Island functioned as the headquarters of the penal settlement. Located near Port Blair, the construction of the Viper Jail was carried out during 1864–67. Lt. Col. Barnet Ford, the superintendent of the Penal settlement, supervised the work. Initially, a police inspector, a head constable, two sergeants, four class I constables and 30 class II constables were posted. Later on, the strength was raised gradually. Solitary cells, lock-ups, stocks and whipping stands characterized the Viper Jail. Women were also held.
The conditions at the jail were such that the place got the notorious name, "Viper Chain Gang Jail". Those who had challenged the might of the British authority were chained together and confined at night by a chain running through coupling of irons around their legs. It was at this jail that members of the Chain Gang were put to hard labour. Brij Kishore Singh Deo, popularly known as Maharaja Jagannath of Puri, was kept in the Viper Jail, where he died in 1879.
The Jail has secured a permanent place in the history of the freedom struggle as it was here that Sher Ali, a Pathan from Peshawar, was hanged after he assassinated Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India, on February 8, 1872 at Hope Town jetty, opposite Chatham Island. After the construction of the Cellular Jail in 1906, the Viper Jail's importance declined.
Today, the two-storied Jail building stands tumbled to the plinth level except for a portion of the roof with the outer wall dilapidated. A few birds which have built their nests inside the tomb of the gallows.
The island has some vipers and snakes on it.
Viper Island is a serene beautiful tourist destination situated near Port Blair's harbour, and can be approached in 20 minutes from the Phoenix Bay jetty. The Harbor Cruise, available daily from the jetty, provides an overall view of different points of the harbor and a trip to this haunted Viper Island. This place is visited by number of tourists as it has multiple attractions with historical importance and also has mesmerizing picnic spots with natural picturesque environments.
- "Islandwise Area and Population - 2011 Census" (PDF). Government of Andaman.
- "A&N Islands - Pincodes". 22 September 2016. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "STD Codes of Andaman and Nicobar". allcodesindia.in. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
- Registration Plate Numbers added to ISO Code
- "Village Code Directory: Andaman & Nicobar Islands" (PDF). Census of India. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- "DEMOGRAPHIC – A&N ISLANDS" (PDF). andssw1.and.nic.in. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
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