A corner of Kolkata, transported in time

The Commonwealth War Graves in Bhowanipore Cemetery is worth a visit for its pristine environment. The martyrs of the two World Wars are commemorated on Remembrance Sunday at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph at Kolkata Maidan.

Commonwealth War Graves at Bhowanipore Cemetery
A grave of a soldier’s wife from 1904, at the cemetery
Diplomats at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph on Remembrance Day

A pristine environment, every blade of grass mowed to perfection, the hedges neatly pruned and every headstone kept clean, every named etched on them legible and read without any effort. A visit to this spot could make anyone feel transported in time and place. This is the enclosure of Commonwealth War Graves, where martyrs of World War I and II were buried, within the Bhawanipore Cemetery. Close to 1000 graves can be found here, of soldiers, officers and even their wives who were buried here. Each epitaph has the soldier’s name, rank and order engraved on it.  Although they lie within the boundary walls of the cemetery, their maintenance and upkeep is done by the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission. “We have to regularly maintain this place and keep it clean and neat. Many foreign delegates visit this place every year and sometimes, even relatives or descendants of those whose graves are here,” said one of the caretakers of the cemetery.

November 11 marks the end of World War I in 1918. Hostilities came to an end at the ‘11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month’ and this is observed as Remembrance Day all over the world in both Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth nations. In Calcutta, it’s Remembrance Sunday, observed with bugle call and wreath-laying at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph on the Red Road. Diplomats from all  consulates present in Kolkata congregate at the cenotaph. After a bugle salute and a minute’s silence, representatives of the consulates lay wreaths at the monument. Wreaths are also presented by the GOC-in-C Eastern Command, Indian Navy, Air Force,  Kolkata Police and the East India Charitable Trust. A wreath is also laid at the War Graves at Bhowanipore Cemetary, later in the day.