Viper Island is a small island near Port Blair that spreads across 70 acres. Apart from the beautiful and scenic island that is surrounded with greenery, the island has huge historical importance related to the struggle of Indian Independence from the British rule. The whole of island contains one building that was built in 1864. British used this building to hold freedom fighters and were made to undergo unthinkable inhumane tortures and horrendous suffering! The “rules” for the prisoners were so stringent that if someone violates, they were asked to do laborious work with chains tied around their hands and legs.
Due to the horrific conditions of the inmates, the island was once called Viper Chain Gang Jail. Several famous freedom fighters, and rulers who opposed British rule in India were held captive at this island. The then Maharaja of Jagannath Puri, Brij Kishor Singh Deo, was one of the prisoners here who could not bear the torture of the British, and lost his life in 1879 here. Another noted freedom fighter, Sher Ali, was hanged to death at this very island in 1873, after he assassinated Lord Mayo, the then Viceroy of India, to oppose the British rule. This jail at Viper Island was abandoned after the Cellular Jail was constructed and opened in Port Blair in 1906.
Today, the island is full of greenery with thick and dense trees. You can also find the old abandoned two-storied jail, built with red bricks. The “jail” is is now a home for few birds, squirrels and others.
There are a couple of legends behind how the island got its name. According to the first one, a British trading ship called “Viper” mysteriously crashed and its remains were found near this island. According to the second story, the island used to be a home for a special variety of venomous snakes called Russels Viper. Numerous Viper snakes used to be present which made the island nearly impossible to be inhabited. Hence it was named Viper Island.
How to reach?
Viper Island is generally part of the “Three Island day tour” which is operated by most ferries from Port Blair. The tour covers Ross Island, Viper Island and North Bay Beach. The three island tour is a group tour, and hence you may not find all the time to explore other parts of the island. The time given is just enough to visit the jail and come back.
The other alternative (and expensive one) is to hire a private boat to visit this island.
Where to stay?