‘The Roman Catholic Cemetery, (C. 1565-1803 A.D.), Agra, India, Part-I’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

100_2398 580 20Known as the Roman Catholic cemetery, it is the oldest Christian cemetery of Northern India. It contains tombstones of Armenian Christians who had come by the land route, around the middle of the 16th century A.D. The first church at Agra was also built by them in 1562. They settled and traded at Agra under the patronage of Mughal King Akbar. Who is also recorded to have admitted an Armenian woman in his harem.

100_2412 480 20It contains tombs of many Europeans who were connected with the Mughal Court: John Mildenhall (self-styled English Ambassador) who died in 1614; Father Francis Corsi who died in 1635; Geronnimo Veroneo (The Venetian goldsmith) who died at Lahore in 1640 and Father Joseph De Castro who also died at Lahore in 1646; Mildenhall’s tomb is the oldest English monument in India.

100_2410 480 33Many European explorers, traders, adventurers, factors, missionaries, artisans, sailors, physicians, diplomats and above all free-lance soldiers (like the German Walter Reinhardt who was nicknamed ‘Sombre’, later corrupted to ‘Samru’ (owing to his hard and sobre looks) of 17th, 18th and 19th century are buried here.

100_2388 480 20Some are lying under simple tombstones, while a few have impressive tomb-buildings over their mortal remains.

100_2389 580 20100_2358 580 20100_2369 580 20100_2378 480 20This cemetery is protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. On my visit to this cemetery in 2006, I was happy to notice an impressive level of upkeep.

100_2399 580 20(Text source: Archeological Survey of India)

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Photos and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

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