“The old ‘Putlighar’ cemetery in Amritsar, India” by K.J.S.Chatrath

During my visit to Amritsar a few months back, I visited the Golden Temple, the Jallianwala Bagh, the Durgiana Temple and witnessed the flag lowering ceremony at Wagah border. Then my love for old graves prompted me to search for the old English cemetery in Amritsar.  I went to the St. Paul’s Church in the morning and after paying my regards to the Pastor Priest, inquired about the old British graves in Amritsar.  He could not give me much information except that some old graves were located in the Putlighar area of Amritsar. He added somewhat defensively, that he had been in Amritsar for a short time  – 6 to 7 years only. My grateful thanks to him as the information given by him proved to be very valuable and riding a three wheeler auto rickshaw,  I was in the Putlighar area in about 30 minutes.

amritsar-st-pauls-church

St. Paul’s Church, Amritsar.

A helpful resident told us that it was near the local Pipli Sahib gurudwara. Locating the cemetery was a minor issue, but then entering it turned out to be a much bigger problem as the steel gate had been secured locked. Having come so far I was not willing to give up. Fortunately the aged Sikh auto driver too became quite enthusiastic seeing my efforts and told me in Punjabi, “Sir ji, fikr na karo, assi kuch rasta labh lawangay” (Sir, dont you worry, we will find some way out). And soon we sere chugging along on that auto on a side kuttcha lane parallel to the railway line. We had to leave the auto after some time and then the two of us , with the ample help of the local residents, crossing quite a few narrow lanes came face to face with the back door of the cemetery. Alas, it was locked too, but from inside. After a bit of loud knocking were were allowed to visit the cemetery.

amritsar-putlighar-cemetery-gate

Entrance gate of the cemetery at Putlighar, Amritsar.

Unfortunately it turned out to be unkept as most of the old cemeteries in India are.  let me take you through to some of the gravestones and inscriptions.  The inscription on the grave below reads:

Sacred to the memory of

Alfred Hayes,

The beloved infant son of

Alice & Alfred Algar

Who was taken away on the

8th day of august, 1877

Aged one month and eight days

“Of such is the kingdom of heaven”

little-alfred-hayes-amritsar_0

Grave of Alfred Hayes.

An inscription on another grave nearby shows how uncertain life can be. It reads:

To the memory of

George A. Grant

Assistant Surgeon

Royal Artillery

Accidentally killed at Umritsar

by a fall from his horse

on the 21st October, 1864,

aged 28 years.

george-a-grant-horse-fall

Inscription on the grave of  George A. Grant.

In loving memory of

Charlotte Georgina

The dearly daughter of

James and Elizabeth Millar

Who died 21st September, 1891,

Aged 19 years

What I do thou knowest not now

But thou shalt know here after

The golden gates were opened

A gentle voice said come

And with farewells unspoken

She calmly entered home.

georgette-19-amritsar

Sad inscription on the grave of Charlotte Georgina.

 There is a very poignant inscription of the little Ernest nearby:

Sacred to the memory of

Ernest Mikillop Michell

who died on the 6th January 1879

aged 2 years and 5 months

“Mother I come”

mother-i-come-amritsar-cemetery

Grave of little Ernest Mikillop Michell.

There are long lines of euology to a departed mother:

Sacred to the memory of

Ellen Victoria Butler

Born 23rd October 1857

Died 21st March, 1927.

We watched her fading like a flower

We could not make her stay

We nursed her with our tenderest care

Till God called her away.

An angel took our Mummy away

But we must not repent

For Jesus on his bosom wears

A flower that once was ours.

ellen-victoria-butler-amritsar

Ellen Victoria Butler’s grave.

May the departed souls Rest in Peace. On visiting the old ‘Putlighar’ cemetery in Amritsar, how much I wished that the vandals do not disfigure these memories in stone for the sake of, what to them are,  just  pieces of marble!

Text and photographs and copyright  by K.J.S.Chatrath

May I invite you to visit my other websites: www.fiftyplustravels.com,  traveltalk.co.inand the blogs : www.anaap-shnaap.blogspot.com indianheritagephotos.blogspot.in

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