Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The South Park Street Cemetery

Located at the corner of Park Street (now Mother Teresa Sarani) and Lower Circular Road (now A.J.C Bose Road) is the South Park Street Cemetery, known to many as “the great cemetery”. One of the largest colonial cemeteries of its kind, it is today one of the many tourist attractions of Calcutta (Kolkata). The South Park Street Cemetery replaced the St. John’s Church graveyard as the principal burial ground of Calcutta and the road leading to it, which is today called Park Street, was originally known as Burial Ground Road. It is perhaps difficult to imagine that this part of the city was a jungle back then. Clive hunted tigers in what is today Free School Street. Indeed, so far away was this from the main city, that the Bishop who had to be present for the burial, had to be paid a special allowance so he could maintain a carriage and horses. The reasons behind siting a cemetery so far away from town are not difficult to understand. Calcutta was a malarial swamp, and in an era where there was no understanding of tropical disease, poor hygiene and poorer diet, the mortality rate was shockingly high. The monsoons were particularly bad, and every year at the end of the rainy season, feasts would be organised by those left living to give thanks to God. In such a scenario, repeated reminders of death in the form of funeral processions were thought of as undesirable.

Graves in the South Park Street Cemetery

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mahishadal Rajbari, Haldia

Located around 60 km to the Southwest of Calcutta (Kolkata), in the Mahishadal administrative division in Haldia subdivision of Purba Medinipur (East Midnapore) district is the Mahishadal Rajbari, home to the Gargs of the Mahishadal Raj. Spread over a large area, Mahishadal Rajbari consists of two palaces, a cutchery or court house, a ghat, a large navaratna temple, all surrounded by a protective moat spanned by bridges. The vast property left to decay for many years is now being renovated and opened to visitors. Mahishadal Rajbari is an ideal weekend getaway from Calcutta, especially for history buffs.

The Phul Bagh Palace, Mahishadal

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Shaniwar Wada, Pune

Pune’s Shaniwar Wada is a rare example of a fort right in the middle of a modern city. It was the residence of the Peshwa, the prime minister of the Maratha Empire that dominated central India from 1674 to 1818. Once the centre of Indian politics, it was considerably reduced in importance after the Maratha loss in the third Anglo-Maratha war, which left the East India Company in control of most of India.

Shaniwar Wada: Dilli Darwaza

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Nadan Mahal: Lucknow's Oldest Monument

Located in the Yahiyaganj locality of Lucknow, the Nadan Mahal Maqbara is the oldest monument of Lucknow, dating back to the Mughal era. But finding it can be a bit of a challenge. When we told our auto-driver we wanted to go to there, he took us to a private house on the Nadan Mahal Road which had a cement airplane on top! If you don’t have Google maps when on tour (I didn’t), what you need to do is to get to Nadan Mahal Road, find an octogenarian Muslim (easy to tell them apart from the attire, fine flowing beards, and exquisite skull caps), and ask for the “Chishti sahib ka dargah”.

Nadan Mahal (right) and the Solah Khamba (left)