Nahan is a small little town perched on top of a green hill in Himachal Pradesh. It used to be the headquarters of the erstwhile princely state of Sirmour. It lies on the road from Chandigarh to Paonta Sahib-Dehradun at a distance of about 84 kms on SH 1 and NH 72. While passing through this town on way to Dehradun last week, I made a short stop there and was amply rewarded. It turned out to be a lovely little town. I will be seperately writing about it as an ideal travel destination for the Fifty+ in my other website (www.fiftyplustravels.com). The present post is about a little known British memorial and graves in Nahan.
Right in the middle of the town, near the Rani Talab lies a monument protectively covered by green trees and a small wall. Come, let us visit it.
At the bottom of this memorial pillar is a marble plaque giving details. It reads:
“Sacred to the memory of Wm. Mc. Murdo Wilson, Ensign 2nd Battn., 26th Regiment N.I., killed on the 27th Dec. 1814, aged 22 years. With the Light Company of his Regiment while covering the retreat of Major Wm. Richard’s column, on the Heights of Jeytuck near Nohun.
When the officer commandig the Company (Lieut. Thackeray) and 57 men were killed and wounded by a strong and overpowering column of Goorkhas led by Cazee Ranjore Thappa.
The remains of the deceased with three officers (Lieuts. Munt, Thackeray and Ensign Stalkert) were buried at this spot and this tomb erected by surviving officers of the Light Batallion to their memory.
This stone was placed by an affedctionate brother after a lapse of twenty-five years, the original having been lost. “
I could find no informationabout the 57 men of this Batallion who also died/were wounded in this fight. Presumably they were the Indian sepoys of the East India Company, which did not bother to pay homage to them because they were non-British even though they died for them!
In the compund there are some graves constructed with bricks but none of those is marked.
There is a solitary stone grave, but that too is unmarked.
Next we move to a place which was earlier called the ‘Joggers Park’ but now seems to have been rechristened by the Forest Department as ‘Villa Round Area’. After walking for about 200 metres one comes across a gate with a board ‘R. Catholic Cemetary Nahan’.
The first view shows two prominent, rather Rajasthani looking canopies on graves and some grave stones. These just do not look like christian graves. Some of those who came to conquer this land, in death got conquered by the impact of its culture.
Let us move a little closer, softly and respectfully. The inscriptions on the grave stones are very faint and difficult to read unless one cleans them rigorously. Of course the inscriptions on two graves of Dr. and Mrs. Pearsall are clear and legible because of the protective cover of the canopies.
This majestic structure is the grave of Dr. Pearsall.
The inscription on the marble reads: ‘Sacred to the memory of Edwin Pearsall, Medical Officer to H.H. of Sirmour for 11 years. Died 19th November, 1883 aged 50.’
At the bottom of this structure is a brief mention ‘Erected by his loving wife’.
Next to it is an identical structure, which is the grave of Mrs. Pearsall.
The inscription reads:
‘Louisa Pearsall, relict of Dr. Edwin Pearsall, resided at Nahan for 38 years after the death of her husband in order to lie beside him. Died on 19th October, 1921 aged 87 years.’
Now that is undying love!
Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
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