Monday, 5 February 2018

South Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata and Western Classical music concert!!

South Park Street cemetery. Baroque concert Livemint

South Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata. Travelomy
South Park Street Cemetery, believed to be one of the earliest non-church cemeteries in the world, and likely the largest Christian cemetery outside Europe and America in the 19th century, is on Mother Teresa Sarani in the prime area of Kolkata city, India. The cemetery took its name from the past name of  

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the street - Park Street, Since a large European community lived here a necessity arouse for  a suitable ground for the Christian burial. It was opened in 1767 and, for this purpose, the marshy land was reclaimed to build the cemetery. Until
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1830 the cemetery functioned. The earliest name of the street was Burial ground road and later the name  was changed to South Park street.  By 1840 a new cemetery came up to the east of the lower Circular road ground to relieve the pressure on the burial site.  A few marble plagues point out that the Europeans stopped using this burial place after 1790 and preferred a larger ground for the present and future use. The last burial took place in 1931.The total number of graves is 1600. Among the prominent people buried here, mention may be made of Sir William Jones (1746–1794), Indologist, founder of the Asiatic Society, Sir Elijah Impey (1732-1809), first Imperial judge impeached, Walter Landor Dickens, son of English novelist Charles Dickens. et al.
South Park street cemetery, Kolkata. Bong Blogger
This place has a variety of tombs and  cenotaphs of various designs facing danger on account of over growth of wild bushes trees, etc. In some graves the tree roots cut deep inside and the inscriptions on the   grave are faded considerably. For various reasons, this oldest British monument has not yet become a well-known tourist destination like other monuments. This may be due to poor maintenance of the burial place.  The ASI took control of this heritage site and efforts are on to preserve the age-old cemetery  for the posterity. Until a decade ago, the entire cemetery was in a dilapidated state. Since then  there has been some changes made and 
it is still a long way to go to restore it back to the 
old charm and glory. A good start was made in 2007 and initially more than 15 tombs were repaired 
and taken care of. The biggest challenge faced by
the conservationists is the enormous growth of vegetation and  the accompanying root-wedging caused by the wild growth of trees near some of the superb structures. The ever-growing roots cause havoc and cause severe damage to the adjacent buildings that crumble slowly.
18th century South Park Street Cemetery , Kolkata Shutterstock
This sleepy cemetery,  where the Europeans of colonial era were put to rest for their eternal sleep, came alive last month on the 6th of January, 2018.  The mood of gloom and melancholy silence one will experience here was broken by the sound of western Baroque music. This 250 year old resting place of  more than 1600 early British settlers were treated to a session of  baroque music on a nice afternoon  put together by five musicians consisting of a pianist and a string quartet. It was the first ever concert on this grave yard and the purpose of this music concert was to remind the city's elite and also the  diplomats  about the forgotten glorious colonial past and to reconnect them with the largest cemetery established by the early British settlers. The credit goes to the Christian Burial Board—a statutory body which runs five cemeteries in Kolkata. This unique group of  musicians  was led by violinist Prosanto Dutt and they played compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and George Frederic Handel, Surprisingly the concert ticket was just Rs. 20.00 (less than half a dollar). It shows the true spirit and  intention of the group of Musicians as well as  the Christian Board to create an awareness about the unique  cemetery which boasts of as many as 300 variety of trees and a vast diversity  of tombs depicting a rare fusion of different civilizations - Roman, Greek, Mogul Turkish etc. There are tombs following Hindu architecture. That this  earliest Christian cemetery in this part of  India does not carry a symbol  Cross is a myth. Many tombs are opulent and  well embellished with decorative buildings.
Kolkata, Indiacommons.wikimedia.org
 The blessed ones who have been there for more than  two centuries perhaps might have happily turned around in their respective graves and relived their past lives in  colonial India with their eyes wet with tears. 
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/its-bach-to-the-cemetery-for-a-musical-feast-in-kolkata/article22360909.ece

 http://www.livemint.com/Politics/0Tj2ukXXjZ6EPrccFtPXzN/Concert-brings-alive-Kolkatas-250yearold-South-Park-Stree.html