‘Memorial stones of Silchar cemetery thoughtfully relocated to Shillong cemetery by BACSA in 1981’ – by K.J.S.Chatrath

I was visiting Shillong in North East India recently and visited the Anglican cemetery. It is located near what was earlier called the General’s Point but is more commonly known locally as the Rhino Pont, in the cantonement area.

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North East April 2016 764 640 75On the inner side of the wall of the cemetery, there are 14 memorial stones embedded in it. As a marble plaque put up by the British Association for cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA)* explains, ” These Memorial Stones were brought from Silchar Anglican Church to be preserved on this wall in 1981′.

Cachar district in Assam has three main towns- Silchar, Lakhipur and Sonai.

This was indeed a far sighted move as it would have been difficult to preserve these 15 stones in Silchar. Here these get the care and protection of a larger well kept cemetery.

This step needs to be considered where ever there are a handful of memorial stones lying scattered and unattended in different parts of India. After all these are a part of our historical heritage.

North East April 2016 776 640 75North East April 2016 767 640 75In the affectionate memory of Kendal Cartagwhirter…   …, who died at Appin Cachar on July 9th, 1897.

North East April 2016 769 640 75In the affectionate memory of Lilian Fanny Antoinette Graham, beloved wife of T.W. Graham, who died at Lakhipur on 5th January, 1914

North East April 2016 770 640 75North East April 2016 768 640 75On the glory of God and in memory of

Alexander Milne, CME

North East April 2016 766 640 75In the memory of Mr. James McIntosh Balfour, S.V.L.H., of Passutipore, who died in Calcutta on August 4th, 1895.

North East April 2016 784 640 75North East April 2016 773 640 75In the glory of God and the memory of Henry Weir, of Kalline Tea Estate, who after a long residence in Cachar, died in Shillong on 9th June, 1917, aged 74 years.

Erected by old friends and members of the local branch of the Indian Tea Associationas a token of appreciation  and esteem. IMIGAD.

North East April 2016 778 640 75North East April 2016 782 640 75In the memory of James Winchester, who was killed in a Lushai attack on Ali*aminapore Garden, on January 23rd, 1871. This tablet is erected by the ***inhabitants of Cachar.

. . . . .

* I would soon be putting up an article on BACSA and the invaluable work done by it in India.

‘Discovery’ of an old British cemetery at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, Part-I – by K.J.S.Chatrath

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On my visit to Varanasi, India a few weeks back, I managed to ‘discover’ an old British cemetery there with graves dating back to 1799.

The word ‘discovery’ is being used by me in the way the Europeans claimed to have ‘discovered’ the Americas, India and many other areas from 15th century onwards. These places were already there on earth but since the Europeans did not know about these, they claimed to have ‘discovered’ those. One does not know weather it was just poor use of English language or a bit of pompousness on their part which made them use the word ‘discovery’, but unfortunately the word did stick for quite some time. Anyway, let us let it rest here and take a look at the Varanasai cemetery.

It was not easy locating it. I could get no information from the internet. The local taxi driver and the rickshawallahs were keen to take me to the Hindu burning ghats on the holy Ganges. One of them even asked me, ‘Are you a christian ?’. My honest reply of a No, supplemented by ‘I do not believe in any God’ left him disappointed. I could almost read his mind- ‘Look, here is this old man who does not believe in God but is spending his time looking for old christian graves and that too of foreigners.’

I asked the local Tourist Office but got no clue. So I gave up and started moving towards Sanchi in a taxi. Suddenly I shouted to the driver, ‘Stop. Stop”. He applied the brakes with a jerk and looked back at me ‘Kya hua ji’ (What happened)?. Found it. I have found the cemetery that I was looking for.

And there it was on one of the major roads of the town with a clear board.

VARANASI March 2016 1453 580 40While trying to locate this cemetery it  would be useful to keep in mind that it is located near Dev Narain Colony, Chaukavat and the PIN number of the area is 221002.

Fortunately the main gate was not locked. The driver too came with me and we spent the next hour moving from one grave to another, taking photographs and ultimately feeling sad at seeing so many children and young ladies having died so early in life. May be, that was one of the prices to be paid for colonialism.

Though there is a an effective boundary wall all around , the condition of old graves is sad. It seems that no one ever visits this place except for fresh burials. Since a large number of foreign tourists visit Varanasi, I am sure, a good number of them would love to visit this  heritage cemetery provided it is got spruced up and sufficient publicity is given of its existence.

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Sacred to the memory of

William Cowell

Who departed this life

On the 23rd October  1818 (?)

Aged four months and thirteen days.

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Now this does look at little eirie though the photograph was taken around noon.

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Sacred

To the memory of

James George Brown,

Son of James Cowley Brown, and of Mathilda, his wife

Who departed the earth  on March 15th 1821,

Aged 9 months, 15 days.

VARANASI March 2016 1458 640 50Sacred to the memory of Henry, Infant son of Lieut. & Mrs. H.C.Clayton who died 3rd August 1830 aged 1 year 6 months and 27 days

VARANASI March 2016 1460 640 66Sacred to the memory of Alexander, infant son of  Capt. Forbes, 27th Regt., who died 26th August 1851.

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Sacred to the memory of John James,who died on May16, 1813, aged 3yrs, 2mys, son of Edward Robert 15dys &

Edward Robert who died on June 10 1813 aged 6 months 15 days,

sons of Thomas and Isabella Yeld

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Sacred to the memory of Robert Balhurst Esquire, of the Bengal Civil Service, who died at Benares on the third day of November (not clearly legible)

Parts II & III of this article will follow later.

These photographs are available in high resolution and with a small watermark. If interested then please write to chatrath@gmail.com .