In an initiative to de-stigmatize prison life, Thrissur’s Viyyur Central Jail may become one prominent destination on Kerala tourism map, only if the government approves the state prison department’s proposal to throw it open for short tourist stays.
While talking to Hindustan Times, State prisons deputy general of police R Sreelekha said, “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.”
Even though it is not the first project of its kind in India, but still this idea has surprised many. Before this, two years ago, the Telangana government had launched a similar programme at the 220-year-old heritage jail in Sangareddy, Medak district. There the tourists were allowed to stay a day for a fee of Rs 500. In February 2017, a well-known jeweler Boby Chemamnoor created headlines by spending 24 hours behind bars, as mentioned in the report.
Tihar Jail is also thinking about a similar initiative and is likely to launch a project called ‘Feels Like Jail’.
There will be the construction of a separate block for tourists in the prison complex, where they can enjoy their stay. Further, to add fun to the whole prison-like experience, there will be uniforms, jail food but the tourists will be barred from interacting with actual inmates for security-related issues, said a senior official of Viyyur Jail to HT.
This programme may help not only in generating additional revenue but also de-stigmatize prison life to an extent, he added.
Viyyur jail in Kerala dates back to 1914 and holds a historical significance. It still bears numerous remnants of the British era and the erstwhile Kochi dynasty. This makes it different from the other 2 central prisons in the state. The jail department is planning to open a grand jail museum as well.
Apart from this, an air-conditioned restaurant at Poojpura central prison in Thiruvananthapuram offers a wide range of delicacies and that too at affordable rates. This place has become quite popular among patrons and was launched 2 years back as a “three-dish kitchen”, the Freedom Cafeteria now offers 22 delectable food items to choose from and includes coveted Malabar biriyani as one of its dishes. Further, it also provides employment to over 150 inmates and the price of the food here is at least 40 percent cheaper than the market rate, which makes it a pocket-friendly option for many.