French Cemetery Chandannagar


French Cemetery Chandannagar

Once there was a French cemetery in Calcutta (Kolkata) but now that is sadly not preset anymore. So, my next bet to explore the French connection of Bengal was obviously the town of Chandannagar which in this blog I will keep referring to as “Chandernagore” which was known back then.

Weekend travel during pandemics has its disadvantage since most of the tourist places are either shut or don’t have any official information about reopening. While most churches are still open for mass but it’s not the same for visitors especially when it comes to Cemetery.

For me to visit the French Cemetery in Chandernagore it took me three unsuccessful attempts and then I had a full proof plan that is to visit it a day before All Souls Day knowing very well that the cemetery will be open for pre-cleaning activities. This bet paid off and finally, on my fourth attempt, I found the gates to the French Cemetery open. This cemetery is also referred to as the Sacred Heart Cemetery since this cemetery is part of the Sacred Heart Church in Chandannagar. The church is also the custodian of this property.

Location of French Cemetery in Chandannagar

The cemetery is located right opposite Lal Dighi which is a large lake. Fort d’Orleans was located right behind this Lal Dighi before being destroyed during the siege. Nothing remains of that fort but the reference of this Lal Dighi and the cemetery can be seen in earlier maps. This fort was raised to the ground by Robert Clive in 1757.

Fort d’Orleans in Chandernagore With Lal Dighi On One Side and Hooghly River On The Other Side (Public Domain)
Fort d’Orleans in Chandernagore With Lal Dighi On One Side and Hooghly River On The Other Side (Public Domain)

History of French Cemetery in Chandannagar

According to the marble plaque installed inside the cemetery the date mentioned is 1696. The French came to this part of Bengal in 1670 and along with them came missionaries. At one point there were three churches in Chandernagore managed by various sects like Capuchins, Society of Jesus, and the Jesuits. Thus you can say that this cemetery is primarily a Catholic cemetery. However, some Protestants were also buried here which can be found on the left side of the cemetery as you enter from the main gate.

A 1908 Layout Map Of The French Cemetery in Chandannagar (Public Domain)
A 1908 Layout Map Of The French Cemetery in Chandannagar (Public Domain)
Photographs From Inside The Cemetery. Circa 1908 (Public Domain)
Photographs From Inside The Cemetery. Circa 1908 (Public Domain)

What to see at French Cemetery in Chandannagar

The cemetery has recently been restored. Not all the old tombs and graves have been restored but selected few important ones have been restored while the rest of the cemetery has been cleaned up and pathways built around the cemetery.

One has to agree that quite a few of the tombs are in urgent need of repair as the outer plater layer has completely come off. While some of them have been dangerously tilted due to a weak foundation and soft soil.

As you enter the cemetery you will find newly installed marble plaques and the pathways that have been dedicated to saints and other important personalities. Keeping with the tradition the pathways have been named in French like “Rue Mother Teressa”, “Rue Radhanath Sikdar” etc.

The Main Entrance To The Sacred Heart Cemetery (French Cemetery) in Chandannagar
The Main Entrance To The Sacred Heart Cemetery (French Cemetery) in Chandannagar
As you Enter You Can See The Pathway Leading You to The Chapel Located At the Center Of The Cemetery
As you Enter You Can See The Pathway Leading You to The Chapel Located At the Center Of The Cemetery
Pathways Names Written In French at Sacred Heart Cemetery Cemetery in Chandannagar
Pathways Names Written In French at Sacred Heart Cemetery Cemetery in Chandannagar
Memorial Plaque Commemorating The Massive Restoration Work Carried Out in 2013 at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Memorial Plaque Commemorating The Massive Restoration Work Carried Out in 2013 at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
The Small Chapel Located Inside French Cemetery in Chandannagore
The Small Chapel Located Inside French Cemetery in Chandannagore
Some Of the Memorial Column Located on The Right Section Of The French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Some Of the Memorial Column Located on The Right Section Of The French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Some of the restored tombs at the French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Some of the restored tombs at the French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Not All Tombs Are In Great Shape And Urgent Need of Repair at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Not All Tombs Are In Great Shape And Urgent Need of Repair at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Tombs in Urgent Need of Repair at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Tombs in Urgent Need of Repair at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
One Of The Most Elegant Structure Inside French Cemetery in Chandannagar
One Of The Most Elegant Structure Inside French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Back Section Where Some Of the Tombs Have Been Restored at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Back Section Where Some Of the Tombs Have Been Restored at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
One Of The Largest Tomb Structures at French Cemetery in Chandannagar (The 1908 Photo Featured At the Beginning of the blog featured this Tomb)
One Of The Largest Tomb Structures at French Cemetery in Chandannagar (The 1908 Photo Featured At the Beginning of the blog featured this Tomb)
French Cemetery in Chandannagar
French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
One Of The Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
One Of The Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Memorial Plaque Inside that Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar
Memorial Plaque Inside that Tombs at French Cemetery in Chandannagar

Some Important People Buried at Cemetery in Chandannagar

Grave of Radhanath Sikdar at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Grave of Radhanath Sikdar at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Tomb of Charles Alfred Courjon at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Tomb of Charles Alfred Courjon at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Grave of Edmund Piddington (son of Henry Piddington author of The Laws of Storms) at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Grave of Edmund Piddington (son of Henry Piddington author of The Laws of Storms) at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Grave Site of Leon Margain The Founder of Chandannagar Hospital
Grave Site of Leon Margain The Founder of Chandannagar Hospital
Grave Site of Anne Marie Javouhey Founder of St. Josephs Congregation
Grave Site of Anne Marie Javouhey Founder of St. Josephs Congregation
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Some Of the Restored Tomb at French Cemetery at Chandannagar

How To Visit French Cemetery in Chandannagar

This place is located not far from the rest of the tourist locations in Chandannagar and if you are traveling with your vehicle then there is ample parking space right outside the cemetery. If you have reached this place by local train or bus then the best way to go around the town is using a hired e-rickshaw.

Several Memorial Plaques Can Be found Plastered On The Side Of The Chapel Inside The French Cemetery
Several Memorial Plaques Can Be found Plastered On The Side Of The Chapel Inside The French Cemetery
This Is An Active Cemetery So Don’t Be Surprised To Find New Burials
This Is An Active Cemetery So Don’t Be Surprised To Find New Burials
Sacred Heart (French) Cemetery in Chandannagar
Sacred Heart (French) Cemetery in Chandannagar
Sacred Heart (French) Cemetery in Chandannagar
Sacred Heart (French) Cemetery in Chandannagar

Location of French (Sacred Heart) Cemetery in Chandannagar on Map

Protestant Section (Left From Entrance) Within The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Protestant Section (Left From Entrance) Within The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Protestant Section (Left From Entrance) Within The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Protestant Section (Left From Entrance) Within The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
One My Favorite Tomb Depicting Two Doves at The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
One My Favorite Tomb Depicting Two Doves at The French Cemetery at Chandannagar
Sources

Bengal, Past And Present: Journal Of The Calcutta Historical Society 1908

The Telegraph

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