The Andamans were more recognisable as `Kala Pani`, but the exact reason for giving this infamous name to the islands is still in the dark. Some experts are of the view that the colour of seawaters of these islands was black either in itself or because of the reflection of the thick and dark black clouds, which almost always remained overcast. There are others who say that the stone of the hills surrounding the sea was black which by its reflection made the colour of the sea appear black.
However, numerous scholars reject this theory, and according to them the expression `Kala Pani` has been used with reference to the Sanskrit word `Kal`, which means Time or Death. The word `Kala Pani` thus, meant the water of death or a place of death from where only the luckiest returned." The British, immediately after the establishment of penal settlement in the Andamans in 1858, also referred these islands as existing across the `Black Water`. Aden, an island in the Arabian Sea where Vasudeo Balwant Phadke was transported, too, was called `Kala Pani`.
Obviously, therefore, the name `Kala Pani` was given to these penal settlements, which were far removed from the mainland of the country by long stretch of seawaters where hardcore criminals were to be transported from the country. The jail authorities there were at liberty, rather, were instructed by the British government to treat the prisoners with extreme unkindness and from where only the luckiest could return.
`Kala Pani` or `Black Water` virtually meant cruel and ruthless treatment to the prisoners till death. A sentence of deportation to `Kala Pani` meant a warrant for throwing the prisoner in living hell to face heard or unheard trials and tribulations and to lead a life of a beast or even worse than that. Expatriation to `Kala Pani` for life was worse than death penalty. The Indian revolutionaries were doomed to `Kala Pani` to undergo these harsh punishments but they in turn immortalised these islands by their selfless sacrifices.
Although the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are among the world`s most beautiful islands and neither the soil, nor the water of these islands is black, but the British government had created a situation to call these islands as `Kala Pani` because of the inhuman barbarisms inflicted on the patriot prisoners fighting for the liberation of their motherland who were transported from the mainland and gaoled in these islands. The term "Kala Pani" is interwoven with the trials and tribulations faced by the brave political prisoners in Cellular Jail and of those freedom fighters of the first war of independence who were brought to these island to lead a `hell like life".