What has all along been known as the Central Jail in the city has recently attained a new name. Having gone through thorough transformation, the Central Jail was rechristened as the Freedom Park and opened to public on the 2nd of March, LK Advani was the chief at the opening. Apart from being a historical moment, the inauguration led the political leader to think of his stay in the jail during the Emergency period between 1977 and 1979.
For Bangaloreans the revamped Central Jail with an all new name is nothing less than a dream come true. The architects behind the makeover are city based Mathew and Gosh Architects. Originally with a space of more than 22 acres, the park is now all set to become a 16 acre recreational centre apart from being a cultural hotspot, the proof of which comes in the form of an open- air amphitheatre that can seat 300 people. Despite having stood as a symbol of colonial rule for years, the situation is all set to change with the way the architectural aspect of this jail has been redefined. Though many components of the erstwhile Central Jail has been kept intact, the high walls have been painted in a way so as to integrate with the newer changes brought in. The watch tower and the office of the Chief Warden are some of the aspects that live on, immortalizing the historical worth of the place. The new additions, apart from the amphitheatre, are a smaller theatre created to give vent to artistic energy and a book museum with a café on top of it.
What acted as the gallows before is an open space and if things go as planned, a modern version of the Belgaum Central Jail gallows will be built here. A structure that has often instilled fear in people’s hearts, with the British having killed hundreds here, the Freedom Park has an all new look now. With a jail museum reverberating the past, the park also has six barracks turned into recreational spots where the public could actually take a walk. The cell yard is still the high walled structure that it was, only that the surroundings have changed and it bears several memories of the past.
While a lot has already been achieved, a lot are still in the pipeline. While the fountain surrounding the watch tower will be turned into a musical one, art works are still in the process of being installed on the main jail wall (now being called the Freedom Wall). The Information Corridor on Barrack C will eventually have a multimedia gallery capacitated with LED screens.