Cemeteries in Shimla

by SumitVashisht /
SumitVashisht's picture
Apr 30, 2009 / 0 comments

There are total five Cemeteries in Shimla where a number of British are buried. British loved Shimla and they developed this town in order to lead their entire life here. For everyone it was like love at first site. It was love at first site so they decided to improve this place up to a livable level.

 Graves in Sanjauli Cemetery - Shimla 

Cemeteries were one of the first priorities for them as death is an unwelcomed guest. As they designed everything so they declared spots for the cemeteries. It is said that Peterhoff - now a hotel with Himachal Tourism is built on the lands of a cemeteries that was Shimla's first Cemetery.

But the First Cemetery of Shimla is considered as the one next to Oakover, one a summer house of King of Punjab and now being used as the official residence of the Chief Minister of the state. This cemetery was started way back in 1829 and was immidiately closed due to the rapid growth of the town. So it has total 17 graves and the last is in 1841. After that this cemetery was closed. Now it is surrounded by a number of new and old buildings and looks like buried in the cluster of houses. The gate remains closed and one can spot it only by a flag that hoists on a grave and then the cross is located after a big effort.

Another cemetery is just below St. Edward School and is not in use now. It is located next to the Central Potato Research Center and a road that bypasses Shimla town goes through this cemetery. There are a few graves in the cemetery but Father Shamsher of Christ Church at the Ridge says they he has got no record of the graves of this cemetery.

One private cemetery near Nav Bahar is meant for the nuns St. Beads Educational Society. Also known as Convent of Jesus and Merry this is one of the best school for the girls of Shimla. Two kilometers before Sanjauli Bazaar, a wooded path branches of towards the right. The path is through the thick Cedar forest and some shrubs. The tip tap of my shoes echoes in the air whenever I walk through these woods and cicadas humming goes with the rhythm of my footsteps. The cemetery here us walled from all the side and near the gates there is a grave of some old British Gentleman. The graves here are in a better condition than any other cemetery in Shimla as it is privately maintained by the Nuns of Convent of Jesus & Merry.

Sanjauli Cemetery is the only cemetery in Shimla that is still being used by the locale Christians. Originally started during the first world war this cemetery has many prominent citizens of Shimla in its Lap. The first grave is of and Indian Christian called Joseph Multani.

I have made various visits to this cemetery and on one cold November morning I planned to spend my whole day there. I picked up by daypack, stuffed with my lunch, water bottle, a diary, a pen and my Canon Camera. I turned right just before the Dhali Tunnel and walking through on street through the unevenly built private buildings that have residences on top and shops at the road level, scooters and cars parked next to them leaving hardly any space for pedestrians, I approached the gates of cemetery. I found them closed. A very narrow, 3 feet wide street along with the left wall of the gate is the only way to enter the cemetery.

The condition of the monuments is not very good as most of them have lost their stones and those which are left, have coats of moss and dust. I sat on the graves, looked for the information and cleared the moss and mud from them to get their details of birth and death. It was only me in the graveyard and lots of silence. I knew that I was sitting on the death beds of those who were buried here ages ago. When their relatives were here they must have visited them quite frequently but for last many decads they were sleeping under the mud and moss. I was perhaps the first one after a long time to clean up their stones and sit next to them. I wish I could speak to them and give them some information about their families but alas! I could do nothing.

Many of them are completely covered with mud and thick bushed have grown up around them as they have lost all of the material that designated their boundary. Not even single information is available about them. No one comes to care for these jewels of past.

A narrow path through the graves, in the thick woods, is used by the locals as a cut short route to their houses. On one grave, I found empty packets of snacks and a dropped liquor bottle that had its lid lying next to it and all the liquid had been consumed last night, perhaps. May be a group of drinkers found this the best and safest place to enjoy and spend their evening, so they used this grave as a mat on the ground.

As I approached at the eastern end of the cemetery I heard some noise of people talking. I neared the noise and was surprised to see a few boys playing cricket. A vertical stone, that, I am sure, was obtained form a grave, was being used as their wickets behind the batsman and opposite that a few meters away another small stone, of course form a grave only, was the place to throw ball. They had cleaned up the area properly to play their game. It looked like they are the regular visitors of this area as the marks on the grounds said that.

I spent the whole day here, visited all the monuments and was able to collect information from 147 graves. When I returned home I uploaded them to my computer and made a blog. This is to help those British who visit Shimla due to their past association and looking for their family history. Many of them come to me asking for the houses, built by their parents or Grand Parents and the Cemeteries where they are buried.