|Fairytale like earliest European graves built in Mogul style, Agra returnoftheprodigal.wordpress.com|
|The mogul style tomb of Walter Reinhardt, also known as Sombre or Samru, a European Mercenary of dubious nationality. |
photo credit: evenfewergoats.blogspot.com
|The Marty's chapel.- the oldest building in the cemetery, dating from Akbar's time. built around 1611 to honor the memory of an Armenian merchant by the name of Khoja Mortenepus.photo credit: evenfewergoats.blogspot.com|
|The mogul style of tomb of William Hessing, one of the earliest Roman Catholic Cemetery, note the chatris on the corners, Agra. thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com|
|begum Samru's tomb along with unidentified European grave. photo credit: evenfewergoats.blogspot.com|
The amazing thing about these oldest graves is the inscription, epithets are clear, readable and kept clean and tidy. For some reason, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Christians, after their death, were brought to Agra from various places exclusively for burial and perhaps, the church authorities might have found Agra was a blessed place for the departed souls. There are more than 80 Armenian graves well modeled and designed. It is apparent that there was a large Armenian community here during the period. Many of them were either traders or missionaries. The Mogul ruler Akbar allowed them to preach Christianity and also religious conversion.Though they could not succeed in their attempt to covert the native Indians to Christianity in the northern states, they continued to live here till their death. One may be surprised to come across the graves of Jerome Veronio, and Hortenzio Bronzoni; both were Italian jewelers during the Mogul period. There are many Italian graves here, each with distinctive inscriptions displayed both in eastern and western style. It is worth mentioning here that there is a grave for one Walter Reinhardt who worked for a local ruler and had his own army. He married an Indian woman Begum Samru, a Muslim woman, who became a Catholic later. She happened to be the only catholic ruler in India. There are graves of Jesuit monks of various nationality who died in Agra in 1600s.
The impressive tomb dated January 14, 1868 of Francis Ellis, an Englishman draws our attention. The architecture of this tomb is unique. It is an eight-sided structure made of sand stones with beautiful carvings and pointed arches. Around this tomb. one will find the graves of the Ellis family members who lived here and died on the soils of India.
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. The paths of glory lead but to the grave".
The Indian Tourism department should make wider publicity about this historical site and takes steps to preserve it for our future generation. The heroes of by-gone years whose mortal remains lie buried in the graves, are now forgotten poor souls and their places of eternal sleep - tombs need to be preserved and taken care of.