It was just another morning when I thought to explore the city of my passion on feet. To feel the charm of Kolkata nothing beats then walking down those alleys of broken windows, almost vanishing street names or be it hub culture of the city. Meandering around the streets in Park Street, a lot of colonial architecture will catch your attention and if you had that eye for detail, who knows who you might end up exploring some real buried treasure.
It was one such experience for me as the writings “In the midst of life, we are in death” caught my eyes- this place was ground of the dead – the South Park Street Cemetery.
The 18th and 19th century Bengal saw a huge British community influence and from time to time many had made this city their home and few even breathed their last here. Today the British Raj is gone but the long lost history can’t be ignored. A glimpse of it can be seen at the South Park Street Cemetery where death has been glorified.
Built in 1767 for the officials of the East India Company, the life-size graveyards and tombstones might seem to overpower you but their charm can’t be ignored. A look at some of the graves will leave you in awe of their intricate architecture and fine work done on it, while few names like Edward Gordon, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, Major-General Charles Stuart, Lieut. Col. Colin Mackenzie, William Jones and more will leave you mesmerized and also set you thinking about the grand British Raj that existed at one point of time.
Walking around the final resting place for many soldiers, sailors, women and more for almost two hours I happen to meet Stephen – the keeper of the dead. A jazz musician by the night this Anglo-Indian chap guards this heritage of the city in the day he happened to show me the oldest grave in this graveyard which is that of Mrs.S.Pearson(1768). He has always loved these Gothic architecture which sees a rich influence of rich flavour of the Indo-Saracenic style. Amongst all the tatter, one of the best maintained tombs is that of Sir William Jones (Anglo-Welsh philologist).
The rich greenery amidst the towering monuments, climbers all adorning these graves. The place also sees grave tablets from the North Park Street Cemetery that cease to exist today. With almost more than 1,000 burials this cemetery is one of the earliest non-church cemeteries in the world.
Might be creepy for some but this place has a sense of solitude and serenity. It’s a world of its own when you are there – away from the hustle bustle – as you feel closet to the era gone by. Go on a date with history in this cemetery. The eerie silence, the calmness around is nothing unusual to experience.
Note: The cemetery is located on Mother Teresa Sarani (earlier the road used to be called Park Street, and before that, Burial Ground Road)
Entry Fees: FREE, but stop by the cemetery office and pick the cemetery booklet for Rs. 100. The proceeds go to helping maintain the cemetery.