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On the cards, a quirky vacation behind bars in God’s Own Prison

The country’s largest prison, Tihar Jail, is also toying with the idea of launching a similar project called ‘Feels like Jail’.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2018 12:11 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Viyyur Central Jail,Kerala tourism,Tourists
Prison authorities said that the project, if approved, will not only generate additional revenue but also help destigmatise prison life to an extent.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Nobody wants to be put behind bars, but what if you were to go there on vacation?

The Viyyur Central Jail in Thrissur may become a prominent destination on Kerala’s tourism map if the state prison department’s proposal to throw it open for short tourist stays is approved by the government. “The department has submitted a detailed proposal to the government as part of the prison museum project. A short stay on the jail premises is one of them. Further details can be shared only after it is approved,” said state prisons deputy general of police R Sreelekha.

However, this is not the first project of its kind in the country. The Telangana government had launched a similar programme at the 220-year-old heritage jail in Sangareddy, Medak district, two years ago, with tourists being allowed to stay a day for a fee of Rs 500. Last February, well-known jeweller Boby Chemamnoor created headlines by spending 24 hours behind bars.

The country’s largest prison, Tihar Jail, is also toying with the idea of launching a similar project called ‘Feels like Jail’.

A senior official of Viyyur Jail said the project envisions the construction of a separate block for tourists in the prison complex. They will partake in the prison experience, complete with uniforms and jail food, but won’t be allowed to interact with actual inmates for security reasons. He went on to add that the project, if approved, will not only generate additional revenue but also help destigmatise prison life to an extent.

Among the three central prisons in Kerala, Viyyur jail holds historical value as it dates back to 1914 and still bears several remnants of the British era and the erstwhile Kochi dynasty. The jail department is planning a grand jail museum here.

Incidentally, an air-conditioned restaurant at Thiruvananthapuram’s Poojpura central prison – which offers a number of delicacies at affordable rates – is a big hit among patrons. Launched two years ago as a “three-dish kitchen”, the Freedom Cafeteria now offers 22 dishes – including the coveted Malabar biriyani – and provides employment to over 150 inmates. The price of the food here is at least 40 per cent cheaper than the market rate.

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 11:28 IST