Saturday, February 28, 2009



The wait is finally over. With phase one almost complete, the promised Freedom Park will open today

Aarthi R | TNN

Bangalore: The gates will open to the Freedom Park on Saturday, with senior BJP leader L K Advani cutting the ribbon at 10.30 am.
The 21-acre Central Jail campus, once a dark mystery to the world, is now a befitting monumental park spread over 16 acres.
There is an all-new entry, with the old entrance, built in 1867, leading to the Jail Museum housed on the first floor, within high walls and gates. Much of the park resonates with a blend of ancient jail components and modern frames. Take a walk over the 1-km circular jogging track, and you get to explore it all.
Much of the panoptic plan, with a central watchtower and barracks lined radially around, remain intact. Two parallel walls a few yards from the entrance, a hallmark of the old campus, are some of the oldest structures. The watchtower, with a circular base, stands intact. Once the office of the chief warden, to keep strict vigil, it now offers a breathtaking view. As one starts up the wooden steps to the tower, it’s tempting to peek into a dark room below — deep, narrow and black, once the way to ‘correct the incorrect’. Now it is
open and painted — even the
painter is clueless as to the
number of coats it took to
turn it a dim white.
Six barracks — A to F — that once housed at least 25 inmates each, have got a new look. While Barrack E remains structurally intact, with walls and concrete beds, Barrack F is modified for the children’s play area. The beds have been removed and filled with sand to let kids slide in on their favourite ‘jaara bandis’. The other barracks have been innovatively modified — Barrack A has only beds that look like a walkway on a track, Barrack B is a flowerbed, an information corridor is housed in Barrack C and Barrack D is knocked off to make space for public functions.
The cell yard — the high-walled, sparsely-ventilated enclosure that once housed all undertrials — is a corridor bearing fading memories, with caricatures, love messages, names, numbers and even the plan of a traffic junction in the city!
There is an amphitheatre to seat 300, and a small theatre, apart from the heritage building and landscaping. The hospital block will be a double-storey building, the book museum with space for free art expression and a cafetaria on top — much of it to be taken up in the next phase.
The place that once housed the gallows is now a mound of mud. There are plans to bring in an imitation of the gallows at Belgaum Central Jail, but right now, it’s a place to sit and breathe in fresh greenery, away from the city’s madding crowd.
Three places at the park have been developed to harvest rainwater. There are close to 10 percolation pits and facilities for 114 sprinklers.
The remaining 5 acres have been made into a rally area over an underground cellar-parking zone, developed along the Swiss Challenge method.
Work on musical fountain around the watch tower for sound-and-light shows
Installing art works on main jail wall that runs for 0.5 km, also called ‘Freedom Wall’
Information corridor to be converted into multimedia gallery housing LED screens showcasing Karnataka
Children’s park area overlooking plaza space will have traditional games like hop-scotch and large chessboards
The Central Jail on Seshadri Road was built in 1865-66, after the first war of Independence in 1857. The 21-acre campus virtually divided the old city and cantonment during colonial rule.
It is an old project. BBMP officials estimated the cost at Rs 78 crore, in three phases. The first phase has been completed at Rs 17.35 crore. The tender was called during 2004 and work began in 2006. The proposal for the second phase awaits approval from JNNURM.
L K Advani, who will inaugurate it, shares special memories of his stay here during Emergency. Ministers Suresh Kumar and R Ashok will also be there. Various cultural programmes include a play on patriotism. “In the beginning, it will be open to all. Details of timings and tickets will be decided soon,” a BBMP official said.


Post a Comment

<< Home