Christian Cemeteries in Kolkata


Christian Cemeteries in Kolkata

Once being the capital of British India and also being the nerve centre of East India Company Kolkata has seen European migration for a really long time. Here you will find the cemeteries of the English, French, Armenians, Greeks and Dutch. I have only visited few cemeteries before writing this post thus when I started researching for this blog I was taken aback by the total gamut of history that is lying buried. In this blog I have listed out the Christian Cemeteries in Kolkata and for some of them I have added a brief history along with the list of illustrious important personalities each of these cemeteries are housing.


The list of cemeteries are as follows:-

  • Lower Circular Road Cemetery
  • Crematorium
  • South Park Street Cemetery
  • North Park Street Cemetery
  • Tiretta Cemetery (French Cemetery)
  • Scottish Cemetery
  • Maniktala Christian Cemetery
  • Greek Cemetery
  • Bhowanipore Cemetery
  • Tollygunge Cemetery
  • Stephen’s Cemetery

Lower Circular Road Cemetery

Map of Lower Circular Road Cemetery
Map of Lower Circular Road Cemetery

Established in 1840 this is one of the largest and the most visited cemetery in Kolkata, situated at the crossing of Park Street and Mullick Bazar. John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Sir William Casement, Henry Whitelock Torrens, Sri Haren Mookerjee, C. F. Andrews etc. are some of the stalwarts who are buried here. This cemetery can be visited round the year but it’s highly recommended to visit this on All Souls Day when the whole place is lit up with candle light and you can roam around till late night.

The cemetery also houses an Armenian Section and has a direct private access from the adjacent St. Gregory The Illuminator Armenian Church. It is also to be noted that many WW1 and WW2 soldiers are buried here.

Lower Circular Road Cemetery - Entrance
Lower Circular Road Cemetery – Entrance
Lower Circular Road Cemetery - Entrance
Lower Circular Road Cemetery – Entrance
Grave of John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune at Lower Circular Road Cemetery (Sketch Courtesy Bethune School and College Centenary Volume 1949)
Grave of John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune at Lower Circular Road Cemetery
(Sketch Courtesy Bethune School and College Centenary Volume 1949)
Grave of Michael Madhusudan Dutt at Lower Circular Road Cemetery
Grave of Michael Madhusudan Dutt at Lower Circular Road Cemetery
Armenian Section at Lower Circular Road Cemetery
Armenian Section at Lower Circular Road Cemetery

Crematorium

Map of Crematorium
Map of Crematorium

There is a crematorium just next to Lower Circular Road Cemetery at No. 2 Crematorium Street, it also houses a small compound where some graves are also present. This facility was started around 1904 to facilitate Urn Burial which was becoming common at that time especially with the armed forces.

This crematorium was gas powered and functioned till the 1980’s but due to erratic gas supply the service was stopped. It used to use a French built furnace from Toisoul Fradet & Co.

This crematorium was also used by the Brahmo community and notable personalise like Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was cremated here.

Entrance Gate to the Crematorium
Entrance Gate to the Crematorium
The Crematorium in Its Present State
The Crematorium in Its Present State
 Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (Courtesy Agence Meurisse)

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (Courtesy Agence Meurisse)

 

Click here to read a more detailed blog about the crematorium

 

South Park Street Cemetery

Map of South Park Street Cemetery
Map of South Park Street Cemetery

Then there is of course South Park Street Cemetery which is a historical landmark in the history of Kolkata as well as India. This is where the stalwarts like Sir William Jones & Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. This site was active between 1767 and 1830 and was once considered as one of the largest during that period in Asia.

This park has tomb style memorial more in the Gothic style, you can also get an Indian architectural style influence in them similar to that of temples.

Entrance to South Park Street Cemetery
Entrance to South Park Street Cemetery
South Park Street Cemetery
South Park Street Cemetery
South Park Street Cemetery
South Park Street Cemetery
Tomb of Sir William Jones at South Park Street Cemetery (Steel Engraving Courtesy Wikipedia)
Tomb of Sir William Jones at South Park Street Cemetery (Steel Engraving Courtesy Wikipedia)
Tomb of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio at South Park Street Cemetery (Sketch Courtesy Ana Briongos)
Tomb of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio at South Park Street Cemetery (Sketch Courtesy Ana Briongos)

North Park Street Cemetery

Map of North Park Street Cemetery
Map of North Park Street Cemetery

Just opposite to South Park Cemetery was the North Park Street Cemetery, started in 1797 this portion is no longer a cemetery and now stands the Assembly of God Church Tower, School and Hospital. The only surviving relic is the Robertson Monument. Somehow this has not been demolished and still remains visible.

Some of the tablets from North Park Street Cemetery has been shifted to South Park Street Cemetery and be seen plastered on the east end wall.

Few of the important graves that was once housed here are that of Edmund Robertson; he was the Senior Superintend of Calcutta Police, Richmond Thackeray; father of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, Lieutenant Colonel  James Achilles Kirkpatrick; the British Resident at Hyderabad from 1798 to 1805, John Zachariah Kiernanders’ family vault; the first protestant Missionary to establish a base in Bengal.

Assembly of God Church, School, Hospital & Tower. Location of the Original North Park Street Cemetery
Assembly of God Church, School, Hospital & Tower. Location of the Original North Park Street Cemetery
Robertson Monument at North Park Street Cemetery
Robertson Monument at North Park Street Cemetery
Tablet inside Robertson Monument at North Park Street Cemetery
Tablet inside Robertson Monument at North Park Street Cemetery
An Old Photograph of North Park Street Cemetery. Robertson Monument at the Extreme Right (Courtesy Old Indian Photos)
An Old Photograph of North Park Street Cemetery. Robertson Monument at the Extreme Right
(Courtesy Old Indian Photos)
An Old Photograph of North Park Street Cemetery. Richmond Thackeray's Tomb on the Left and Kiernanders Family Vault on the Right (Courtesy Calcutta Past and Present)
An Old Photograph of North Park Street Cemetery.
Richmond Thackeray’s Tomb on the Left and Kiernanders Family Vault on the Right
(Courtesy Calcutta Past and Present)
Kiernander-Memorial-Tablet
Kiernander Memorial Tablet
Tablets from North Park Street Cemetery Now Put Up On the East Side Wall of South Park Street Cemetery
Tablets from North Park Street Cemetery Now Put Up On the East Side Wall of South Park Street Cemetery

Tiretta Cemetery (French Cemetery)

Map of Tiretta (French) Cemetery
Map of Tiretta (French) Cemetery

Just diagonally opposite of South Park Cemetery was the Tiretta (French) Cemetery of Calcutta, but unfortunately you cannot see anything of it as it was leased way back in the 1973 and now houses high rise buildings.

This cemetery was once owned by Edward Tiretta an Italian architect who had come to India to work for the East India Company. He was an assistant to Giacomo Girolamo Casanova of Venice, the same Giacomo Casanova who was once considered as an epitome of womanizing and the term “Casanova” got coined after his name.

In India he was married to a young French girl who happened to die at a very young age, she was an orphan of a French officer, the Count de Carrion. Initially she was buried near Sealdah, Baithakkhana but he wanted her last resting place to be his own so he purchased this land just opposite to North Park Street Cemetery in 1786.

This is the same Tiretta from which we get the name Tiretta Bazar in present day Kolkata. Edward Tiretta was first registrar of memorials of deed affecting lands in Bengal and appointed for a salary of one thousand sicca on 1st of February 1781.

Later this cemetery was the last resting place for many French nationals who had come to work for the East India Company. Many Jesuits priests were also buried here later.

The Bengal levee - Hand-coloured etching, published 9 November 1792. Edward Tiretta Can Be Seen Talking To the Greek Priest (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London)
The Bengal levee – Hand-coloured etching, published 9 November 1792.
Edward Tiretta Can Be Seen Talking To the Greek Priest (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London)
The Presumed Location of the Tiretta (French) Cemetery
The Presumed Location of the Tiretta (French) Cemetery

Scottish Cemetery

Map of Scottish Cemetery
Map of Scottish Cemetery

A walk down from South Park Cemetery towards Park Circus crossing will take you to the Scottish Cemetery, this place was established in 1820. No burial has taken place after 1940, at present this is under Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust who are trying to do a full restoration of this cemetery.

Previously before the restoration activity was started this place was inaccessible with overgrown trees and graves in shambles, however recently a lot of restoration activity has been carried out and now can easily be accessed on foot. By the names on the headstone it’s clear that this place is having a rich Scottish heritage. However some tomb stone with Indian names can also be seen here.

One of the prominent grave out here is that of Father Thomas Jones who was a missionary from Montgomeryshire, he had come to Kolkata in 1840 and settled in the hills of Meghalaya where he did an extensive study of Khasi language. He is known as the “The founding father of the Khasi alphabets and literature”.

Entrance to the Scottish Cemetery
Entrance to the Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Scottish Cemetery
Grave of Father Thomas Jones
Grave of Father Thomas Jones

Maniktala Christian Cemetery

Map of Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Map of Maniktala Christian Cemetery

This is located just hundred meters before Maniktala Crossing if you are travelling from Sealdah flyover. You have probably crossed this several times but have failed to notice the small Iron Gate with the words “Maniktala Christian Cemetery” written over it. Another landmark will be the gate next to Leprosy Hospital.

This is a very small cemetery but this place is important since it has the graves of Toru Dutt and her family. Toru Dutt was one of the pioneer poet from India to write poetry in French, English and Sanskrit.

Entrance to Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Entrance to Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Dutt Family Grave at Maniktala Christian Cemetery
Dutt Family Grave at Maniktala Christian Cemetery

Greek Cemetery

Map of Greek Cemetery
Map of Greek Cemetery

The only Greek cemetery in the city this small cemetery near Pholbagan Crossin on 105 Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Sarani. There is a small prayer house inside this cemetery and it’s under the Greek Church in Kolkata.

Greeks being an expert shipping community often travelled around the world and their presence in India especially during the reign of East India Company can be felt.

According to the records there are burials here since the 1800’s, some of the gravestones were brought from the Amratollat Street as it was abandoned. There are a total of 108 named graves and 12 unnamed graves at this site. There is a small chapel at the location for the mourners to pray. The oldest grave is that of Alexis Argyris in 1777 and the last is that of 1949.

Entrance to Greek Cemetery
Entrance to Greek Cemetery
The Oldest Grave That of Alexis Argyris at Greek Cemetery
The Oldest Grave That of Alexis Argyris at Greek Cemetery
Greek Cemetery
Greek Cemetery
Greek Cemetery
Greek Cemetery

Bhowanipore Cemetery

Map of Bhowanipore Cemetery
Map of Bhowanipore Cemetery

Now if we go from north to southern part of Kolkata we will reach Bhowanipore Cemetery. I find this most interesting since there is a specially designated World War One and World War Two memorial situated within the compound of this cemetery. Active since 1907, 95 burials from WW1 and 617 burials from WW2 are present here. This section is maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission and they have done a real fantastic work with restoration and maintenance.

You can spend hours here looking at the different headstones where the regiment of the fallen soldier is mentioned. Surprisingly you will also find Hindus and Muslims soldiers also buried and their headstones is clearly depicting this. Originally most of these soldiers were buried at Fort William but later transferred to this location. Other than war graves you will also find civilians also buried here, the oldest register show date of 1807.

Entrance to Bhowanipore Cemetery
Entrance to Bhowanipore Cemetery
Bhowanipore Cemetery – War Memorial Section
Bhowanipore Cemetery – War Memorial Section
Bhowanipore Cemetery – War Memorial Section
Bhowanipore Cemetery – War Memorial Section
Fallen Soldiers from Different Regiments at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Fallen Soldiers from Different Regiments at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Muslim and a Hindu Soldiers Grave at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Muslim and a Hindu Soldiers Grave at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Civilian Section at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Civilian Section at Bhowanipore Cemetery
Grave of P. L. Roy, the father of Indian boxing at Bhowanipore Cemetery, civilian section
Grave of P. L. Roy, the father of Indian boxing at Bhowanipore Cemetery, civilian section

Tollygunge Cemetery

Map of Tollygunge Cemetery
Map of Tollygunge Cemetery

On the southern extreme part of Kolkata lies Tollygunge Cemetery which was established in 1942.

Entrance of Tollygunge Cemetery
Entrance of Tollygunge Cemetery
Tollygunge Cemetery
Tollygunge Cemetery
Tollygunge Cemetery
Tollygunge Cemetery

St. Stephen’s Cemetery

Map of St. Stephens Cemetery
Map of St. Stephens Cemetery

This is one of the most obscure Christian cemetery in Kolkata, located near Kidderpore dock sometimes this cemetery is referred to as the Sailor’s Cemetery since quite a few of them are buried out here due to its proximity to Kolkata Port. Though most of these sailor’s cemeteries are old but some of the names could still be made out. There is another section within this compound where sisters from Missionaries of Charity institution are buried.

One of the prominent grave is that of Rev. Madhu Sudan Seal who was a prominent figure in the Bengali Christian community.

Gate No.1 at St. Stephens Cemetery
Gate No.1 at St. Stephens Cemetery
Main Entrance to St. Stephens Cemetery
Main Entrance to St. Stephens Cemetery
St. Stephens Cemetery
St. Stephens Cemetery
St. Stephens Cemetery
St. Stephens Cemetery
Sailor’s Section at St. Stephens Cemetery
Sailor’s Section at St. Stephens Cemetery
One of the Sailor Buried at St. Stephens Cemetery
One of the Sailor Buried at St. Stephens Cemetery
Grave of Rev. Madhu Sudan Seal
Grave of Rev. Madhu Sudan Seal

This blog will be an ongoing project and will keep adding to it more references and other important as and when I get them. Thanks a lot for going through this very long blog, keep watching this space for more interesting blogs.

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27 thoughts on “Christian Cemeteries in Kolkata

  1. Most hearty congratulations from an octogenarian . I was borne and brought up in Calcutta/Kolkata ( except for a few years ). I am more convinced after going through your page that there is no age bar for,learning. Thanks again , my dear Subhadip ( if you please allow me to call you by your first name )

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I came across this very informative blog entry while trying to find the final resting place of a Mauritian who died in Kolkata in 1880. A group of history enthusiasts have gone to all the cemeteries in Mauritius and made a list of all the legible stones and made them available on the internet for researchers and people tracing their family trees :
    http://www.amamu.org/cimetieresreleves.html
    I was hoping to find a similar site for Kolkata. I am sure it would be of interest to many people (hint, hint). Thank you so much for your beautiful pictures and excellent blog.

    Like

    1. First of all thanks for visiting my blog..

      Unfortunately cemeteries on Kolkata are enslaved in bureaucracy. It took a lot of influence to get all the necessary permissions to shoot at the cemeteries. For some I had to request the Pastor in Charge while some I had to force my self as someone trying to revive the history of Kolkata and its past.

      Out of all the cemeteries only Scottish Cemetery has an online record primarily because the Scottish government took the initiative to get it on record. These are available online.

      The British war graves at Bhiwanipore cemetery has also records online primarily because these have to be officially done.

      Unfortunately for the rest its a project long pending and hopefully something may happen in the near future 🙂

      Like

  3. For someone interested in Christianity in Calcutta, this is blog can be very helpful. Very interesting work. Mr Mukherjee, can I get your email idi? I am working on Christianity in Calcutta and some conversation with you might be helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks….for a wonderful read. I am from Calcutta n lived in Park Circus….have a Sister interned in the Lower Circular Cemetary …passed some of these Cemeteries often n remember them, but now I know a bit of their history…Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice collection and details of most of the cemeteries. You have left out the Cemetery at St. John’s Church, Sealdah. See if you can include the same.

    Like

  6. An extremely informative blog which has solved some of the mysterious queries I had … Thank you so much for helping me to obtain some basic facts I have been trying to locate for several years.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. have always taken keen interest in the cemeteries of Calcutta. I have visited some and read up on them whenever I find anything. I have been looking up for the exact location of the Manicktola cemetery for a long time. Then I came across your blog where you have specifically mentioned the location. You are doing good research. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A marvelous article Mr Mukherjee.
    I’m from Nagpur so I may be wrongly presuming that Calcutta could also have a Chinese and Jewish cemetery.
    Mumbai has both.
    Heartiest congratulations once again.
    Noel

    Liked by 1 person

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