Freedom Park , Sheshadri Road BangaloreThe wait is finally over. With phase one almost complete, Freedom Park on Seshadri Road was inaugrated yesterday by senior BJP leader L K Advani.

The 21-acre Central Jail campus, once a dark mystery to the world, is now a befitting monumental park spread over 16 acres.

What’s at the park?

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.

BARRACKS

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.

CELLS

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.

NEXT PHASE

  • 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 .
News Source- The Times of India, 28th Feb, 2009
Image Courtesy- Sampath Kumar G.P , The Hindu