Sightseeing of Sorts…

One for the history buffs… I took myself on a slightly less travelled sightseeing trip around Chennai at the weekend – poisonous snakes aside, it’s hard to beat a scorching afternoons in the tropics exploring graveyards…

First, I paid a visit to the Madras War Cemetery – resting place for several hundred Second World War casualties. Although it didn’t see much frontline fighting during the war, many injured would have been evacuated to India and on dying here would have been buried locally as was the norm at the time.

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The cemetery – maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Indian Government – also has a memorial to First World War casualties buried elsewhere in India. That includes as you’d expect casualties from several Irish regiments.

After that, it was a trip to St George’s Cathedral – previously the Anglican cathedral of Madras, you can tell there’s two hundred years of South Indian history here.

img_1964IMG_1931

As you often see in older churches, the walls inside have a large collection of memorials to many of the Great and Good of pre-independence India. It would seem at least that travel in these parts has gotten a whole lot easier since Victorian India.

Captain Samuel Best
[…] Who Died at Chittoor on the 5th Octr 1851 Of Jungle Fever Contracted
During A Few Hours Passed on the Yailegherry Hills […]

Henry Valentine Conolly Esqre
[…] Fell by the Hands of a Band of Fanatics […]

Captain Andrew Ffrench [ along with 5 others ]
[…] Killed […] In the Attack on the Fortified Heights of Arracan
[…] Others Fell Victims to the Fever Which in 1824 and 1825
Proved so Fatal to His Majesty’s
And the Honorable Company’s Troops […]IMG_1939

Not of course that many of those in the adjoining cemetery fared a whole lot better…

John Monckton Coombs
[…] Was Mortally Wounded at the Cantonment of Palaveram
[…] While Returning from Ball Practice with his Brigade
By a Havildar of the 5th Regiment who Infuriated by
Passion and Blinded by Intoxicating Drugs Mistook the
Person of His Intended Victim, and Aiming at the Life of
Another Sacrificed That of His Best Friend and Protection […]

Miſs Catherine Elizabeth Top
[…] A fell cunsumption gave the fatal blow
The effect was certain but the death was slow
with greif and pain long time Iwas oppreſsed
My Prayers were heard God Kindly game me rest […]

Don’t worry, not all the headstones were quiet as grim.

After that I went looking for St. Mary’s – another old pre-independence expatriate cemetery. I’ll skip on a very odd detour to a similarly-named corporation cemetery for Christians in Chennai. Still a working cemetery, suffice to say I don’t think they don’t get many lost looking European visitors.

When I found it though, my intended St Mary’s looked like overgrown and out of use cemeteries everywhere.

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There were some well-kept war graves though, including some from the First World War. A long way from home I did find the grave of one Private Coughlan from Dublin.

And that’s all from Chennai for now – back to slightly more travelled paths next time round… perhaps.

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