Sunday, April 29, 2018

'The awesome Havana Cemetery' by K.J.S.Chatrath

My visit to the  cemetery to Christopher Columbus Cemetery (Cemetario de Colon) in Havana, Cuba really left me awe struck. I had very little idea of the size of the cemetery and the number of beautifully carved tombs stones in pure white carrara marble. Named after  Christopher Columbus, this cemetery is one of the largest and the most ornate in the world.  It  was designed by Spanish architect, Calixto de Loira  and was built during 1871-1886.

This necropolis has 20 kilometres of pathways, and was declared a national monument in 1987. With more than 800,000 graves and 1 million interments, like many other cemeteries in the world there is a paucity of burial space in this cemetery. The buried remains are removed from their tombs, boxed and placed in a storage building after three years.

Let us take a walk.

Cementerio Cristóbal Colón entranceway is 22.5 metres tall. It was sculpted in 1904 by Cuban artist, José Villalta Saavedra.


Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionatrias was built in 1955. It is a large pantheon that houses Cuban heroes of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.







Monument to the common man (aam admi)!
There is a ticket of 5 CUCs for foreigners visiting this cemetery.
Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
This post was earlier put up on March 4, 2013 in my website

'Panteón Civil de Dolores cemetery, Mexico City' by K.J.S.Chatrath

I visited this Cemetary just two days after the annual celeberation there. This celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Roman Catholic  holidays of All Saints Day and All Soul's Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased with marigold flowers and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Two things stand out inrespect of this cemetery- (i) with 700,000 graves, many with multiple burials, it is perhaps the largest in South-Central America; and (ii) It has one of the largest range of graves with unusual designs and colours. And of course it is really neat and clean.

 It is the largest cemetery in Mexico and contains the "Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres" (Rotunda of Illustrious Persons). It is located on Constituyentes Avenue in Miguel Hidalgo borough of Mexico City, between sections two and three of Chapultepec Park. The history of the cemetery goes back to 1870 when Juan Manuel Benfield, owner of El Rancho de Coscoacoaco (his wife was Concepción Gayosso y Mugarrieta sister of Eusebio Gayosso) set aside an area of his ranch measuring 240 square hectometres (590 acres), called La Tabla de Delores, on which to found a cemetery. In 1875, the cemetery was opened and named El Panteon Civil de Dolores. Juan Manuel Benfield founded the Cemetery in honor of his sister who died in Veracruz shortly after she had arrived from London with their parents.
 "Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres" decorated with flowers.

Tomb of Diego Rivera. He was was a prominent Mexican painter and husband of Frida Kahlo (a painter best known for her self-portraits). His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art.









Tomb of Alfonso Reyes.
Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
This post was first put up on February 9, 2013 in my website

"Lima cemetery, Peru, Part-II" by K.J.S.Chatrath


I had put up a post "Visit to the Lima cemetery, Peru" ( some time back. Here are some more photographs of the same cemetery. 

 By the side of the cross is a small statue of an owl- indicating bad luck. 







Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
This post was first put up October 20, 2012 on in my website

"The little known British memorial and graves in Nahan, Himachal Pradesh" by K.J.S.Chatrath

 Nahan is a small little town perched on top of a green hill in Himachal Pradesh. It used to be the headquarters of the erstwhile princely state of Sirmour. It lies on the road from Chandigarh to Paonta Sahib-Dehradun at a distance of  about  84 kms on  SH 1 and NH 72. While passing through this town on way to Dehradun last week, I made a short stop there and was amply rewarded. It turned out to be a lovely little town. I will be separately  writing about it as an ideal travel destination for the Fifty+  in my other website ( The present post is about a little known British memorial and graves in Nahan.

Right in the middle of the town, near the Rani Talab lies a monument protectively covered by green trees and a small wall. Come, let us visit it.

At the bottom of this memorial pillar is a marble plaque giving details. It reads:

"Sacred to the memory of Wm. Mc. Murdo Wilson, Ensign 2nd Battn., 26th Regiment N.I., killed on the 27th Dec. 1814, aged 22 years. With the Light Company of his Regiment while covering the retreat of Major Wm. Richard's column, on the Heights of Jeytuck near Nohun.

When the officer commandig the Company (Lieut. Thackeray) and 57 men were killed and wounded by a strong and overpowering column of Goorkhas led by Cazee Ranjore Thappa.

The remains of the deceased with three officers (Lieuts. Munt, Thackeray and Ensign Stalkert) were buried at this spot and this tomb erected by surviving officers of the Light Batallion to their memory.
This stone was placed by an affedctionate brother after a lapse of twenty-five years, the original having been lost. "

I could find no information about the 57 men of this Batallion who also died/were wounded in this fight. Presumably they were the Indian sepoys of the East India Company, which did not bother to pay homage to them because they were non-British even though they died for them!

In the compund  there are some graves constructed with bricks  but none of those is marked.



There is a solitary stone grave, but that too is unmarked.

Next we move to a place which was earlier called the 'Joggers Park' but now seems to have been rechristened by the Forest Department as 'Villa Round Area'. After walking for about 200 metres one comes across a gate with a board  'R. Catholic Cemetary Nahan'.

The first view shows two prominent, rather Rajasthani looking canopies on graves and some grave stones. These just do not look like christian graves. Some of those who came to conquer this land, in death got conquered by the impact of its culture.

Let us move a little closer, softly and respectfully.  The inscriptions on the grave stones are very faint and difficult to read unless one cleans them rigorously. Of course the inscriptions on two graves of Dr. and Mrs. Pearsall are clear and legible because of the protective cover of the canopies.


This majestic structure is the grave of Dr. Pearsall.

The inscription on the marble reads: 'Sacred to the memory of Edwin Pearsall, Medical Officer to H.H. of Sirmour for 11 years. Died 19th November, 1883 aged 50.'


At the bottom of this structure is a brief mention 'Erected by his loving wife'.
Next to it is an identical structure, which is the grave of Mrs. Pearsall.

The inscription reads:
'Louisa Pearsall, relict of Dr. Edwin Pearsall,
resided at Nahan for 38 years after the death of her husband
 in order to lie beside him.
 Died on 19th October, 1921
 aged 87 years.'
Now that is undying love!
Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
This post was put up first on October 7, 2012 in my website

Saturday, April 28, 2018

"Visit to the Lima Cemetery, Peru" by K.J.S.Chatrath

After a longish trip in the Peruvian Andes, going up to over 15,000 ft and then visiting Machhu Pichu, our Group was back in Lima, Peru and the trip officially ended. I was understandably tired but could not supress my desire to visit the oldest cemetery in town.
 After a longish trip in the Peruvian Andes, going up to over 15,000 ft and then visiting Machhu Pichu, our Group was back in Lima, Peru and the trip officially ended. I was understandably tired but could not supress my desire to visit the oldest cemetery in town. I shared this with out Tour Manager cum Guide, Nila  (Nila J. Soto Santiago, Tour Manager & Official Tour Guide, Engishs-Italian-Portugues;
cel. ++511999650951) and she not only told me about the location of the cemetery but went along with me in a noisy Three Wheeler,  even though her assignment as the Group Leader had ended by then.  Thank you for your kindness, Nila.

Here are a few photographs to give you an idea of what the Lima cemetery looks like.

The entrance gate to the cemetery





Quite interestingly I saw a somewhat similar statue in the church where Begum Sumroo lies buried in Merrut, near Delhi (Photo below) in April this year.

Some of the differences in the two statues are: face is not covered in Lima statue while it is covered in Sardhana statue; Lima statue shows the right foot forward while the Sardhana one shows the left foot in front; the feet have slippers in the Sardhana statue and quite importantly, the lady in the Sardhana statue has a snake curled around her right arm.



 And you will find me in the photos of every cemetery. Remember the cameo appearances of Alfred Hitchcock in his fillms!
Photographs, text and copyright by K.J.S.Chatrath.
This post was first put up on September 20, 2012 in my website