Prison tourism Travel

For ₹500, a tourist gets to spend 24 hours locked up in a jail

Heritage Jail Museum  

Writers, doctors, students and business people were among the 45 visitors who spent the night here. The minimal tariff included three meals and a dress for the night. The tourist destination we’re talking about is not a resort, but the 200-year-old prison in Telangana’s Sangareddy district, around 145 kilometres from Hyderabad.

Originally built to hold 90 men and five women, the jail has been converted into a museum under VK Singh, Director-General of Prisons. Apart from the museum, the women’s barracks have been renovated and converted to provide a feel-the-jail experience for tourists.

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) The entrance of the heritage jail at Sangareddy. Photo: K.V.S. Giri

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) The entrance of the heritage jail at Sangareddy. Photo: K.V.S. Giri   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

Ever since it opened, tourists from India and abroad have visited in great numbers and according to authorities the enquiries for stay are only increasing. For ₹500, a tourist gets to spend 24 hours locked up in a rectangular cell, without any way to communicate with the rest of the world. With one door, two windows, an Indian-style toilet and a structure to hold water, the whitewashed room smells musty. A guard is posted at the special barracks next door when the guest stays overnight. The cell is fitted with lights, three ceiling fans, a mosquito net. There is a strong iron door, grills on the windows and skylight. If the visitor wants to call it quits without completing the 24 hours in prison, there is a fine of ₹1,000. The structure was constructed in 1796. Spread over three acres , the pillars and walls resemble the Golconda in Hyderabad. The jail was administered by different departments, such as the revenue, judicial and medical, and came under the prisons department only in 1981. It was used as a jail until 2012, when the building’s condition began to deteriorate. It was then converted into a museum, with the barracks displaying the history of crime and punishment. There is also a shop that sells khadi items and other products made by prisoners from jails across the State.

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) Old stone grinder and hand cuffs used for prisoners are part of the display at Heritage Jail Museum in Sangareddy. Photo: K.V.S. Giri

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) Old stone grinder and hand cuffs used for prisoners are part of the display at Heritage Jail Museum in Sangareddy. Photo: K.V.S. Giri   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

Strokes of punishment

What’s a prison experience without a bit of history and art? The Heritage Jail Museum, in collaboration with Osmania University’s art students, displays more than a hundred works in a large cell set up like a maze. This is the culmination of a walk-through experience for visitors about all things crime-associated — from ancient Babylonia through the Mughal empire to the more modern Indian Penal Code.

The history of crime in India is a multifaceted one. In ancient times, kings had the unopposed right to unleash the most violent punishment on criminals, ranging from mutilation to the death penalty.

The punishment for rape or sexual assault was castration. Clearly, earlier this was considered a no-nonsense solution.

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) The punishment room at the Heritage jail museum that was used for isolation of prisoners. Photo: K.V.S. Giri

HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, 22-02-2018: (For Metroplus) The punishment room at the Heritage jail museum that was used for isolation of prisoners. Photo: K.V.S. Giri   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

Other detailed depictions include the severing of limbs, being boiled to death and being crushed to death by an elephant — so make sure you don’t eat much if you haven’t the stomach for this... As technology advances, the crimes get more convoluted and the punishments become more psychologically taxing.

These artworks don’t just portray the criminal timeline, they also showcase legal development and growing social acceptance in our country, where the likes of homosexuality and premarital sex were initially punishable.

Tihar follows suit: With the growing popularity of heritage prison tourism, Delhi’s Tihar Jail has also decided to allow visitors to experience prison life. Renamed Tihar Ashram by former Inspector General of Prisons, Kiran Bedi, Tihar works to rehabilitate and reform its inmates through education and skill development. It also has a radio station run by the prisoners.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 6:53:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/check-out-telanganas-heritage-jail-museum-which-offers-a-feel-the-jail-experience-for-a-fee/article22964102.ece

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