Lower Circular Road Cemetery - Christian and Jewish Cemeteries
03-09-2018    109 times
Lower Circular Road Cemetery

After the older South Park Street and the comparatively new North Park Street cemeteries became full to overflowing, a much larger cemetery was set up in 1840 on the northeast corner of Park Street and Lower Circular Road. The new Lower Circular Road Cemetery, also known as General Episcopal Cemetery, is located near Mullick Bazar, at the crossing of Mother Teresa Sarani (Park Street) and AJC Bose Road (Lower Circular Road), with its entrance on AJC Bose Road. It is said that, this comparatively new Burial Ground of Calcutta was opened on 29 April 1840 with the burial of Captain E T Milner's child. This is a 33 acre huge burial ground, which contains approximately 12,000 graves, including many former British East India Company employees.

Lower Circular Road Cemetery
Lower Circular Road Cemetery – Entrance

At one time, this cemetery contained a number of war graves of both world wars. However, in 1953, it was felt that, the cemetery will be completely full within a very short time. In view of the prevailing circumstances all save two of the Second World War graves were moved into the services plot in Calcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemetery. The remaining Second World War graves are those of an officer of the army of undivided India and a member of the British Overseas Airways Corporation. This organization was one of several civilian organizations recognized by the Armed Forces, whose members' graves rank as war graves. Both graves have permanent private memorials and are privately maintained.

Four First World War graves also remain in this cemetery, but as a permanent maintenance cannot now be assured, the casualties are commemorated by name on the Madras 1914-18 War Memorial in Madras War Cemetery. The cemetery also houses an Armenian Section and has a direct private access from the adjacent St. Gregory, the Illuminator Armenian Church.

Lower Circular Road Cemetery
The Armenian Section at Lower Circular Road Cemetery

The Cemetery is the last resting place of many eminent persons. Michael Madhusudan Dutt and his wife, Henrietta Sophia White, John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, Charles Freer Andrews (better known as Dinabandhu Andrews), Sir.W.H.Macnaghten, Sir William Casement, Henry Whitelock Torrens, Sri Haren Mukherjee, Ex Governor of West Bengal, and Olympian hockey player Leslie Cladius are among the stalwarts who were buried here.

Last resting place of J.E.D.Bethune
Last resting place of J.E.D.Bethune
Memorial of Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Memorial of Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Tomb of C.F.Andrews
Tomb of C.F.Andrews

In the cemetery, there’s the grave of a British soldier named Sir William Hay MacNaghten, who died in the first Afghan War. It is said that his body was recovered in a ripped apart condition. However, his wife arranged to assemble the available remaining pieces of his body, brought to Calcutta and ultimately buried here in this cemetery.

On All Souls Day
On All Souls Day

On the All Souls Day, the Christian population of the city gathers in large numbers in the cemetery to celebrate the day. During that evening, the normally gloomy graveyard shrouded in darkness, becomes engulfed with a soft golden gleam emitting from the candles which were being lit on the graves bedecked with flowers. However, there remains many other tombstones in the dark, which are not being attended for quite a long time, without a single lighted candle on it.

The Lower Circular Road Cemetery, under the custody of Calcutta Burial Ground, is still in use. The front part of the cemetery is relatively clear and well kept. But the older part, furthest from Lower Circular Road and around the edges of the grounds, is severely overgrown with wild vegetation and is kept in such an untidy manner that the slabs or the monuments are mostly invisible. However, with limited resources and limited man power, the caretaker tries to take a lot of care to keep the place neat and clean.

On All Souls Day
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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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