South Cemetery; the dead still tells a tale

2022-04-08 15:32:24

The dead at the South Park Street Cemetery in Kolkata can whisper stories from their graves. They can tell you tales of love and sorrow, of agonies and ecstasies, and passionate pursuits and tragic endings. 

South Park Street Cemetery is one of the earliest ‘non-church’ graveyards that exist in the entire world and, at the time it was founded, was the largest outside of Europe and America. 

The cemetery originally opened in 1767, around the time that the British Empire started to develop in Bengal. It was built as the old burial ground was getting full and was receiving too many bodies. 

Back then, the area was called ‘Burial Ground Road’. Many of the British and European colonial residents in Kolkata caught ‘tropical diseases’ which couldn’t be cured back then. So, a lot of them died very young. 

If you look around the graveyard most of the graves say they were only in their early 20s or younger. The first person to be buried here was John Wood a writer at the Customs House. 

But, the oldest gravestone at South Park Street Cemetery is Mrs. Sarah Pearson who was buried here in 1768 and the ‘youngest’ grave says that an anonymous ‘virtuous mother’ died in 1825. 

Burials took place after dark by oil lanterns save for military members who would have a ceremonial gunfire salute. 

The marble plaque on the gate says that this graveyard stop being used in 1790 but it was completely abandoned in 1830. When it closed there were over 1600 graves and tombs. 

Today, it has been preserved as an Archaeological Survey of India site. There have been many people who have South Park Street Cemetery horror stories; many blame the ghosts of people who are buried here. It has even been called the most haunted place in Kolkata!