It’s one of my passions as a blogger to visit old cemeteries and dig out history from each of the tomb and epitaphs. For me, each of these tells a story which needs to be told, forgotten with time I hope to bring back some of the interesting characters that once had a legacy which needs to be reminded. I had traveled to Gooty as a part of a tourist circle covering Belum Caves – Gandikota Gorge – Gandikota Fort – Gooty Fort. It was at Gooty that we have this famous hilltop fort which I have already blogged about and at the foot of the hill is this European Cemetery.
After the defeat of Tipu Sultan, the forces of East India Company looked to consolidate all the southern principalities and Gooty was one of them. The strategic position of Gooty fort at a hilltop resulted in a fierce battle and commanding that was Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Bowser (1749-1833). Gooty Fort was captured by Lt. Col. Bowser’s detachment in August 1799, this battle resulted in some casualties and it was these dead soldiers and officers that were first buried at this European Cemetery.
How to Reach
Most trains traveling from Mumbai going down south towards Bengaluru or Chennai stop at Gooty. This station has only two platforms adjoining each other. One for the down train and the other for up train. Once you get down at the station take the foot over bridge and exit the station. This station has a monkey infestation and sometimes these can become a bit violent if they spot food packets in your hand so it’s better to hide them else they might come to snatch it from you.
Where to Stay
Gooty has limited options and I managed to only see three hotels where you can stay overnight with only one amongst the three recommendable. Even the locals will tell you that Hotel Ravi Theja is the best place with air-conditioned accommodations in the town. The only downside is that the hotel rooms do not have western toilets and you would have to get yourself accustomed with the Indian version. On the positive side, this hotel has a restaurant attached which takes care of your hunger problem. However, the taste of food is not that great and the saving grace would be that there are quite a few restaurants all around this place serving both veg and non-veg food.
From Gooty station you will find plenty of Auto and Vikram plying from the station towards the main town. Gooty station is a bit far (nearly 5 kilometers) from the main Gooty town thus this is the only viable option. A fully booked auto will cost you around 60 Rs. and takes around ten minutes to reach the hotel. Since this is a small town thus all the auto drivers know all the hotels in town so sit back and enjoy the short ride from the station to your hotel.
You can opt for the share Vikram also which would cost you around 10 Rs. per person. If you have luggage with you then traveling on a shared transportation can sometimes become bit difficult.
To travel to Gooty Fort from the hotel you need to take an Auto costing around 40 Rs. Since the fort is not frequented by tourists thus for the return trip you would also require a transportation. For this take down the mobile number of the Auto driver and inform him that you will call him once back from the top. Since Gooty is a small town thus it will hardly take him a couple of minutes to reach back.
Gooty European Cemetery
This is a small cemetery located at the foothill of the Gooty Fort. This section is very well maintained and protected by a boundary gate and a gate. The cemetery is open to the visitor from 9 AM to 5 PM and its daily maintenance is taken care by a lady. Surprisingly she is quite knowledgeable and will happily guide you to the most important tomb that of Major-General Sir Thomas Munro.
By the looks of the tombs it is very clear that this place has recently been renovated and restore but what has been lost in time will never be able to be restored. Almost all of the tombs have no tablet stone or any marker and the ones that do have are almost illegible. Luckily Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Admiration in Mussoorie had a copy of a book which had a detailed list of tombs and inscriptions. The list that you will find below has been copied from that book.
Apart from this list which mostly comprises of people who had died during the battle the cemetery also at a later point in time had tombs of European officers and their family including those of children who had died at Gooty or nearby towns. Mostly these families had settled here in India while serving East India Company and later the British Empire.
The most famous of all the tomb is that of Major-General Sir Thomas Munro. While reading old documents which were mostly created during the British Empire praised Munro to such an extent that they even declared that songs in his praise were sung by the villagers for decades after his death. Initially, I assumed that these were just propagandas but the search also revealed a recent article on an e-newspaper dated 2017 that the Additional Joint Collector of Anantpur district along with other dignitaries garlanding a statue of Thomas Munro celebrating his 257th birth anniversary.
It is then I found that Thomas Munro had indeed done a lot of good work which included building irrigation tanks for the villagers, introduced Ryotwari Tax which took away the middleman and was also the collector of this region from 1800 – 1807. He died at Puttakonda due Cholera while traveling around this region.
These are the list of recorded burials at the site. At the moment only a few of them are visible do not know what happened to the rest. The below set of record is from the archive.
Captain Hadder Roberts
(On 24th July 1799 Captain Hadder Roberts was killed at Ghooty Fort.)
He entered the army as cadet in 1781, was made Lieutenant August 21, 1790, and Captain April 6, 1799.
(Lieutenant Joseph Taylor, 12th Native Infantry, died at Ghooty, December 14, 1800.)
He entered the army as cadet in 1795. He was made Lieutenant on July 13, 1797.
(At Gooty died of the wounds he received in action with the Poligars Lieutenant George Dade, 4th regiment native cavalry, December 25, 1801.)
He entered the cavalry in 1798. He was made Lieutenant on June 17, 1800.
(Lieutenant Charles Palk of the 2nd Native Infantry, died at Gooty, December 14, 1802)
He entered the army as cadet in 1799 and was made Lieutenant on December 15, 1800.
(At Gooty, Major Archibald Mossman of His Majesty’s 73rd Regiment, April 1803.)
Robert William Davis
(Captain Robert Davis of the 2nd Battalion 19th Native Infantry died at Gooty, 16th December 1805.)
He entered the army as cadet in 1795, was made Lieutenant on November 29, 1797, and Captain on September 21, 1804.
(Captain Richard Charleton of Artillery died at Gooty on May 12, 1806.)
He entered the artillery as cadet in 1792, was Lieutenant June 1, 1796 and Captain November 7, 1803.
(Ensign George Butcher, 21st Native Infantry, 20th April 1808.)
He entered the army as cadet in 1806, was made Ensign on July 3, 1807.
(Lieutenant William Fair, 21st Native Regiment, died 14th January 1811 at Gooty.)
He entered the army as cadet in 1799 and was made Lieutenant December 15, 1800.
(Captain George Johnston of His Majesty’s 34th Regiment of Foot, died at Gooty after an illness of four days in the 44th of his age in the month of May 1811. [25 years of service.])
An officer who on every occasion during 25 years’ service, had evinced that he possessed the zeal and spirit of a gallant soldier. His wife died at Gooty on 31st August 1809. Lieutenant George Johnston married, April 19, 1793, Miss Mary Close.
(Alexander Alexander McDonald, Ensign 2nd Battalion, 15th Regiment, N.I., aged 23 years. Died 1815)
He entered the army as cadet in 1806 and was Ensign on July 3, 1807.
This monument is erected by the officers of H.M., 69th Regiment tor the memory of Captain T. Maoinnis who died suddenly at this place, aged 32 years. 1816
James Miller Young
(J. M. Young, Esq., Surgeon, aged 26 years. This tomb is erected by a friend. Died 1820)
He was Assistant Surgeon to the 1st Battalion, 16th Regiment, N.I. He died on his route to the southward.
(Peter Bruce, Esq., First Judge of the Provincial Court of the Centre Division, who died on circuit at Gooty 1821.)
He was writer in 1796. He was connected with the district for more than twenty years, and gave him name to the Brucepettah at Bellary.
(Ensign Alexander Ord, aged 18 years. This monument is erected by officers of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment N.I., as a testimony of their esteem and respect. Died 1822)
Youngest son of John Ord, Esq., of Torradale. He joined the army as cadet in 1820 and was Ensign February 13, 1821.
William Grant Gordon
(William Grant Gordon, Lieutenant and Adjutant 20th Gordon. Regiment, Madras Army, who fell a victim to cholera morbus in the 24th year of his age. Died 1824)
This tomb is erected and this epitaph inscribed by his beloved brother, Ensign George Gordon, 48th Regiment.
George Robert Gosling
(George Robert Gosling, Esq., of the Madras Civil Service, aged 25 years. This tomb is erected by his brother H. C. Gosling, Lieut., 7th Regt. M.N.I. Died 1825)
He died at Anantapur while Acting Head Assistant to the Magistrate and Collector of Bellary.
Frederick Benjamin Griffith
(F. B. Griffiths, Lieutenant and Quarter Master, 42nd Regiment N.I., aged 24 years. Died 1827)
He joined the army as cadet in 1819 and was made Lieutenant on April 7, 1820.
(Arthur Wilmot, Esq., of the Madras Civil Service, aged 21 years. Died 1827)
He was writer in 1824. Edward Cornwallis Wilmot, B.C.S., probably his brother, died at Calcutta, December 23rd, 1826, aged years. )
(Captain Archibald MacLeod of tho 43rd M.N.I. , who 1827. died of spasmodic cholera at Ramdospet near Ghooty, aged 34 years and 35 days)
Commandant of the late Honourable the Governor, Sir Thomas Munro’s escort.
Francis William Robertson
(Francis William Robertson, Esq., 32 years, a member of the 1838. Robertson. Civil Service and 15 years Principal Collector of Bellary, who died at Anundapoor, aged 59 years.)
His zeal in promoting the welfare of the district over which he presided was indefatigable and will be remembered so long as the numerous plantations which he planted and which had gained for him a well-deserved fame continue to flourish. His memory is still affectionately revered and the munificence and benevolence of “Rob.” Sahib is still the favourite theme among the old members of a village community. He joined service as writer in 1806
Major-General Sir Thomas Munro
(Major-General Sir Thomas Munro, Bart, and k.o.b., Governor of Madras, died at Putticondah on the 6th July 1827) Was interred at Gooty on the 7th idem. His remains were afterward removed to the seat of Government, and deposited in St. Mary’s Church, Fort St. George.
While researching I also found this interesting document that talks about the popularity of Major-General Sir Thomas Munro.
It is interesting to note that a distinguished Englishman ranks among the mahatmas or demi-gods who used their influence for the lasting good of India. The name of Sir Thomas Munro is still ringed with the halo of divinity by the people of the Cedod Districts, whose Principal Collector he was during the stirring times of the East India Company.
Stories are still told of Munro’s justice and magnanimity and ballads sung in his honour. The incident that won for him a mahatma’s niche in the people’s imagination, writes ” Walrus ” in the ** Madras Mail M , is thus related in the annals of Bellary. Mantasala, a little village on the bank of the Tungabudra, which is famous as containing the tomb of the Madhva saint, Sri Kaghavendraswamy, and attracts annually a large number of pilgrims from Bombay and the Nizam’s Dominions and even from Mysore. The land endowment connected with this tomb being threatened with resumption, Munro, it is said, came to make inquiries. “After removing his boots and taking off his hat he approached the grave. The Saint there upon emerged from his tomb and met Munro.
They conversed for some time regarding the resumption, but though the saint was visible to Munro, none of the others who were there could either see him or hear what he said. The discussion ended and Munro returned to his tents and quashed the proposal to resume the endowment. Being offered some consecrated rice, he accepted it and ordered it to be used for the preparation of his meals for that day.” Munro is supposed to have contributed to Ids election to mahatmaship by possessing arms ” so long that they reached to his knees ” and in tins respect resembling the divine heroes of the Indian epics.
Munro died of cholera while on tour in his beloved Ceded District. The story goes that shortly before his death he was riding through a pass in the ghauts and imagined that he saw a garland of flowers stretched across the valley. This optical delusion is believed by the natives to have been a presentiment. At Pattikonda, Government constructed a tope and tank to his memory; and at Gooty is the Munro choultry, within which hangs an engraving of Sheo’s full length portrait, copies of which also adorn the cutcherriea at Bellary and Cuddapah.
Munro was known in the Ceded Districts under the appellation of the Father of the People ; and in the village of Bellaguppa, Rayadrug taluk, Bellary district, the eldest sons of a shepherd’s family were till recently named after him Munrolappa. Many local ballads were composed in his honour, some of which are still sung. Munro Bridge, Chetput, was named after Sir Thomas Munro, during whose Governorship it was built. Sir Thomas Munro’s house and a wall in the compound in Anantapur are preserved now by Government as ancient monuments.
There was also this copy of a letter which Major-General Sir Thomas Munro wrote to his mother.
Munro writes [to his mother 17th May 1795] : — ” I remember I left Cassirncottah about eight years ago, on account of the danger of hill fevers, but a stronger reason was that I could not live without playing fives.” He frequently used to, say that I would rather live on half pay in a garrison that could boast of a fives court than vegetate on full batta, where there was none.”
Overall my trip to Gooty was real fruitful as I managed to cover multiple sites like Belum Caves – Gandikota Gorge – Gandikota Fort – Gooty Fort and finally Gooty European Cemetery. Hope you have enjoyed this tour of this part of Andhra Pradesh, keep following Indian Vagabond see you soon in some place else till then Bon Voyage.
Action Camera Footage
Click here to open the route map to Gandikota from Gooty on Google Maps
Gooty – Hotel Ravi Theja (Mobile – 83093 86360, this is the mobile number of the owner who can speak Telugu and Little Hindi. You can also WhatsApp him in this number in English)