One of Kolkata’s most unique sights is the abandoned South Park Street Cemetery. It is a well-kept secret tucked away amid the larger attractions of Kolkata, and you would miss it if you don’t search for it. This gothic cemetery was founded in the 18th century and served as a resting place for British officers and their families. However, only a few decades later it was shut down. It is also known as Kolkata’s most haunted location. And if you are a person who enjoys gloomy tourism, then this location will just up your street.
History of the Cemetery
South Park Cemetery is a non-church cemetery and is a heritage possession for Kolkata and maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. It is also known as the largest Christian cemetery that is found outside America and Europe in the 19th century. In the year 1767, this cemetery was built on marshes to ease some of the load that the ancient Kolkata Burial Ground had.
The road leading to this cemetery was originally called the Burial Ground Road but was later subsequently changed to Park Street in honor of the park ground Vansittart’s garden home. The cemetery on the northern side of Park Street had been enlarged by 1785, and by 1840, transformed into a massive new cemetery stretching east of the Lower Circular Road.
This cemetery functioned as a burial site for the European expatriates who had resided in Calcutta during the colonial period. Many prominent European individuals from the royal era are buried at the cemetery. The tombs of Charles Dickens’ son, Sir William Jones, founder of the Asiatic society in 1796, Calcutta; ‘Rose Aymbler’ beloved of poet Walter Savage Landor; Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, the founder of the Young Bengal Movement, C.F. Andrews, David Drummond, and Michael Madhusudan Dutta, the renowned and anglicized poet of Bengal are the most distinguished tombs that can be found here.
The cemetery covers an area of eight acres. The enclosure is surrounded by high brick walls and contains 1600 tombs with tablets, epitaphs, and cenotaphs. The tombs are rectangular, square, or round in shape and are usually built of sandstone. With small replicas on stone, the architecture of the tombs presents a typical combination of Indo-Saracenic and Gothic art. Small gravestones, busts of the deceased, and even massive tombs rise over the place. Some of them even resemble Roman temples.
The tombs’ architectures include Grecian urns, obelisks, Romanesque cupolas, cairns, pyramids, and sarcophagi. The sarcophagi are fashioned in a distinctive Hindu manner, with black basalt sculptures on the anterior fascia that depict tiny representations of Orissan rekha deul. Banyans of all types abound, and garden plants like crotons and dracaenas are meticulously planted beside the tombs’ paths.
The majority of the graves at the South Park Cemetery are visually very pleasing. As a result, it has got a distinct allure that attracts a huge number of visitors. Some graves exude a sense of mystery, while others exude a sense of tranquility. Grave number 363 is one of them, which belongs to a woman who never wanted her identity to get exposed. It is the oldest grave here.
The site has also appeared in several Tollywood and Bengali films. This cemetery is immaculately kept, with vast pavilions bordered with towering green trees and memorials to the deceased. The melancholy appeal of South Park Cemetery is unmistakable. It is a must-visit for anybody who desires to pay their respects or want to explore this historical place simply.
Being called one of the most haunted places in Kolkata, people have thus eventually cooked up different stories while blaming the presence of ghosts. The only reason was that they claimed to have fainted or fallen ill. Others visiting this place had felt vexed that chilled up their spine and could not breathe. Even people have made a legend that during the monsoon season, the family tomb of Dennison bleeds and oozes blood for which it has now got a nickname – bleeding tomb.
Though none have got any sight or photos of spirits or ghosts but might have a strange haunting feeling while reading the gravestones as you will come to know about the people who died. The cemetery has a strange allure that is both disturbing and appealing. Visitors who want to experience this mood can enjoy visiting this place and share their tales with the world.
Tour of Cemetery
If the notion of a haunted cemetery does not frighten you, you are free to visit the place at any time. It is now a popular spot for locals and visitors alike and is quite relaxing as the trees give plenty of shade during the summer. This visit to the cemetery might thus serve as a reminder of the ultimate reality of the graveyard’s inhabitants’ deaths.