“SACRED- TO THE MEMORY OF THOMAS SAMUEL THE BELOVED SON OF LIEUT RAYNOR ORD DEPARTMENT WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 14TH DAY OF JAN 1854 AGED 14 YEARS AND 6 MONTH DEEPLY REGRETTED BY HIS SORROWING PARENTS”, I read aloud while my eyes still inspecting the bleak- reddish, old cubical structure standing upright on a broken platform. Its upper layer has worn out and inner skeleton of old bricks is peeking out from here and there.
Similar is the condition of other graves lying in this old, imperialistic cemetery. ‘Lothian Cemetery’ is about one and half centuries old and so are its residents. A majority of beings here breathed and lived in the era prior to 1857 revolt in India. All of them belong to families of Britishers who ruled us for centuries. This portion of India’s history is placed in old Delhi. It is about half a kilometer from Kashmiri Gate metro station and ISBT.
Walking down on Lothian road, towards the railway tracks you see an old iron gate. Through the gate, you sight a vision of old and ruined cuboids like structures. They all look like brown-stone mushrooms growing in the wild grass which has been left uncared for years. Some of these graves are named while a lot many are unnamed. They make you wonder about the causes of their death. This place seems to be inhabited by monkeys, crows, few stray dogs, ants busy in occupying this area and the ones lying beneath these structures since many decades.
Entering the gate, you sense a strange sense of history. Laying your eyes around, you are transported to a painful era of imperialism and torture. You can visualise, people bending and grieving over the death of their beloved ones. This place also puts light on the negligence of authorities over such forgotten pages of Indian history. Wild creepers, flowers, and grass have proliferated and in its larger part. Previous day’s rain has left a bitter odor of neem along with the moist soil beneath your feet. Some graves have been carved with beautiful flowery and geometrical designs. All of them have been damaged and broken as a result of a century-long tussle going on between these graves and waves of time. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now keeping it under its eye. The task of its rejuvenation is going on. You can visit these graves in daytime only and the entry fee is zero.
This graveyard is also enlisted as one of the spine-chilling haunted sites in Delhi on few websites. I could not observe anything unnatural about it. Many people claim having felt the presence of some lady under the peepal tree which is in the center of this graveyard. This tree is known to be as old as the cemetery and is the only living witness of that time. People who live in the slums aligned near the railway tracks confidently talk about having seen her sitting on one of these graves. I can’t vouch for these people talking truth. But I can guarantee you a deeply moving vision and memory overflowing with the idea of history and horror after a trip to these ruins in Old Delhi.
Unseen, untouched and unfelt, these graves lie here reminiscing their own past.