The history of Calcutta (or Kolkata) dates back to the 18th century when Job Charnock founded the city on the banks of the river Hoogly. Since then, Calcutta has been emblematic of the British Raj in India. Likewise, albeit out of necessity, numerous cemeteries or graveyards had to be made, too. Today, on most of them stand schools and hospitals; however, a few of those cemeteries, after having been declared as heritage sites, still remain undisturbed in and around the city. These few are not all that remains of the grand history if the city but are definitely a must visit to understand Kolkata in a better way.
4. South Park Street Cemetery:
Opened in 1767 and used until about 1830, this is a heritage cemetery located in one of the prime areas of the city, Park Street (now named, Mother Teresa Sarani). The cemetery is considered as one of the earliest non-Church cemetery in the world, and until the 19th century it was regarded as the largest Christian cemetery outside Europe and America. Although closed as early as the early 19th century, this place attracts tourists and photographers from all around the world for its eclectic architectural pillars and magnificence. Apparently, this place is one of the spookiest cemeteries in Kolkata, as confirmed by the locals and the guards as well. So, the next time you’re in Kolkata, make it mandatory to stop by this wonder!
3. Scottish Cemetery:
The St. Andrews Scott’s Cemetery or the Scottish Cemetery is another historic site situated in the heart of the city. Located in Dalhousie Square and spread across an area of six acres, this cemetery has over 1600 burial plots with around 2000 graves. The archaic archway gate and the quintessentially British tombs made generally of Scottish sandstone or granite will definitely capture the senses of any art-lover. But the places calls for restoration and attention, since this cemetery doesn’t comes under the heritage sites of Kolkata. However, in 2008, the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust took the initiative of restoring the cemetery; they plan to restore the historical links between Scotland and Calcutta. The cemetery was built in 1820 and was utilized till 1940, a decade after which it was totally abandoned.
2. The St. John’s Churchyard:
Originally a cathedral, St. John’s Church was one of the first public buildings to be opened by the East India Company in India. The construction of the Church started around 1784, with the aid of public lottery, and was completed around 1787. Located in Dalhousie Square, near the western corner of Raj Bhawan, the church yard houses a tiny but historically significant burial ground. The famous and controversial Black Hole Monument is situated here. During Siraj ud Daullah’s siege of Calcutta, the nawab took around 146 prisoners and locked them inside the tiny 14ft. by 8 ft. room overnight. Out of the 146 prisoners, only 23 are believed to have survived. The graveyard also houses the tomb of Lady Canning, the wife of Lord Canning. Job Charnock’s mausoleum is also located here. When in this church, don’t forget to witness the temple-life grave of Francis Johnson. This epitaph written on the tombstone of this grand old lady of Calcutta (as Johnson was affectionately called) describes the entire life of her, with details of her four husbands and children!
1. Bhawanipur Cemetery:
The Military Burial Ground, commonly referred to as the Bhawanipur cemetery was opened in the year 1782-83, beyond the-then General Hospital. This cemetery represents the architectural amalgamation of the Indo-European style. The marble tombstones erected amidst lush green field carve out a picturesque scene. Although it’s almost as old as the South Park St. cemetery, it doesn’t have that old-world charm or archaic feeling attached to it, like the others. Visit this place on the All Soul’s Day, we bet you’ll love the ambience —filled with people, yet non-cacophonous and sublime.