My Ramble

A trip to the Christian Cemetery (Gora Qabristan) – Peshawar

22-IMG_20130630_153131

I have always wanted to visit the Gora Qabristan (Christian Cemetery) in Peshawar but somehow my commitments always prevented me from going there. Today while having lunch at The Coffee Pot (consisting of Mixed Salad, lemonade and ice cream) and while reading “The story of Malakand Field Force” by Winston Chruchill I decided to make the much awaited pilgrimage. Lo and behold, with the bill paid and the waiter tipped (with some alacrity) I hopped in my car. Today was a good day, the temperature was around 36 Centigrade.

23-IMG_20130630_153146

Faqir Hussain, the chowkidar greeted me at the gate and volunteered to show me around. A fine fellow who I found to be very well conversant with the graves. Giving a devious look to my camera he straight away led me to the old graves. Graves that were more than a hundred years old. Some still standing unharmed despite the vagaries of time, some nearing their end. This post is most of a pictorial. Though you will find some description as you scan them.

01-IMG_20130630_151051

A tombstone dedictaed to the men, women and children of a battery of some C Brigade, circa 1863.

 03-IMG_20130630_151245

This is the grave of an English gentleman Rev Isidor Loewental who translated the New Testament in to Pushto (The local language). As per my guide he was shot by his watchman (thinking him to be a thief) when coming in to his house by climbing its wall. On his grave, barely visible are some verses in Pushto language.

02-IMG_20130630_151238

The tombstone has his name and the brief description of his death.

04-IMG_20130630_151313

Lt George M Bishop, killed in action, 1863. 6th Bengal Cavalry.

05-IMG_20130630_151327

Here lies, D. Warburton, Col Commanding Artillery Division 1863, Peshawar.

  06-IMG_20130630_151425

Lt George Mitchell Richmond.

07-IMG_20130630_151654

A mass grave, the writing has since long faded.

08-IMG_20130630_152043

Capt Duncan Presgrave

09-IMG_20130630_152109

 10-IMG_20130630_152125

This man died exactly 156 years ago, today. What a coincidence, today is 30 June 2013. 11-IMG_20130630_152216

What a sorry state.

 12-IMG_20130630_152229

Capt R.J Waller. A lot of cleaning required here.

 13-IMG_20130630_152420

14-IMG_20130630_152445

There in the midst of bushes lies some poor soul.

 15-IMG_20130630_152628

 16-IMG_20130630_152643

 17-IMG_20130630_152731

The only Muslim in this Christian Cemetery. His father was a Christian so I believe after his death the relatives buried him here.

 18-IMG_20130630_152753

Driver Godfrey George, 1899.

 19-IMG_20130630_152907

This couple shares a grave. Till death do us apart, nay, for even in death they are together.

 20-IMG_20130630_152958

This grave has a spooky story associated with it. It is said that people would get a tag at their clothes or even a slap while passing through this grave. Later someone placed an amulet at its base, where there is a nail visible. The tagging has since then stopped.

 21-IMG_20130630_153025

What a tender to die at, 22 years. Lt R I Ward.

   24-IMG_20130630_153330

The poor soul drowned in river Swat. They say he was always seen helping the Afghan Refugees. Though his body was never found, a plaque was placed inhis memory.

 25-IMG_20130630_153409

He didn’t even live to be five.

 26-IMG_20130630_153445

Arthur Arnold George, died aged 1 and a half years.

 27-IMG_20130630_153508

Reginald George, lived for 9 months only.

  29-IMG_20130630_153624

Lt Carmont Owen.

 30-IMG_20130630_153750

I could just make out the words Flight Lieutenant.

32-IMG_20130630_153839

Amidst the shrubbery, lots of graves.

 33-IMG_20130630_153959

This man died in a scooter accident, so the tombstone even has a scooter made on it. The Chowkidar told this to me in a gleeful manner.

 34-IMG_20130630_154021

If translated in to English, the verses would mean something like this,

“ In youth your lamp of life got extinguished,

Oh! the need for sleep came but suddenly”

 35-IMG_20130630_154117

 36-IMG_20130630_154129

More airmen’s graves.

 37-IMG_20130630_154209

 38-IMG_20130630_154639

All around I saw utter neglect.

I am past that stage and age where I will lament on why the British came here. Well to me it was destined so. But what dismays me on seeing these graves is the countless number of people buried here, thousands of miles away. Travelling wasn’t easy then and hence they had to be buried here. And what pains me even more is the way these graves have been left to decay. After all these men and women were here for the sake of England, they fought in the name of the Queen. And off course the local Government is also to be blamed for their apathy. What say, mate?

14 thoughts on “A trip to the Christian Cemetery (Gora Qabristan) – Peshawar

    1. I believe there used to be a lot of trees there, as you say and as you have been living in the city for a long time. But I did find some trees, not many though.

      Like

  1. Very interesting article and photos. A part of our heritage is slowly fading away unless we do something to preserve these tombstones. My school (st. Paul’s was built upon an old British Raj era cemetery dating back to the time of Sir Charles Napier and now all those graves have all disappeared. A few remained when I was in school (1981). A few headstones were set up along a boundary wall. I am looking for any old photos of the old cemetery as it once existed, but have had no luck.

    Like

    1. Thanks. Are you talking about Peshawar? Did you study or teach at St Paul’s? I wanted to photograph all the tombstones and make a record of them for sharing with the families of the deceased (in some way using the Internet). But I had to move form Peshawar. Now I am in Karachi and the Christian Cemetery is close to my home. I intend visiting it soon.

      Like

      1. Sorry, I meant the Karachi cemetery. I studied at St. Pauls there and graduated in 1981. I regret not taking any photos of the last of those graves. Even the Gora kubristan cemetery the old graves are falling to ruin there. and by the way the great grandson of James Strachan, the architect who designed many famous landmarks like Tower and Empress market is looking for the graves of two of James’ sons that died in Karachi. He wants to know if they were buried in the Gora kubristan,
        Their names were Gordon and Douglas Strachen died as kids there. Thanks for any help., best regs, wayne

        Like

      2. We have a year of death for Gordon as 1892, but not sure about the other brother.
        Thanks for your help in advance. regs, wayne

        Like

  2. We should try to save this fading history and authorities must be approached to help in this regard. When I am in Pakistan this time will go to Gora Kabristan Peshawar to see the graves of those who died here during the course of their duties.

    Like

  3. I live near by Goraqabristan, it’s very historical graveyard,when I was 12 year old me and my friends we used to go everyday after school and will just sit on the wall of Goraqabristan and watching the grave, sometimes we will climb the toll tree in Qabrastan to look for Parrot babies in the nest it was fun.

    Like

    1. Yes its a historical place. For sometime I was mesmerized looking at the old graves. But even more fascinating was the visit to Gora Qabristan karachi, man it was really something. Thanks for stopping by
      Cheers

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s