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.
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.
A tombstone dedictaed to the men, women and children of a battery of some C Brigade, circa 1863.
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.
The tombstone has his name and the brief description of his death.
Lt George M Bishop, killed in action, 1863. 6th Bengal Cavalry.
Here lies, D. Warburton, Col Commanding Artillery Division 1863, Peshawar.
Lt George Mitchell Richmond.
A mass grave, the writing has since long faded.
Capt Duncan Presgrave
What a sorry state.
Capt R.J Waller. A lot of cleaning required here.
There in the midst of bushes lies some poor soul.
The only Muslim in this Christian Cemetery. His father was a Christian so I believe after his death the relatives buried him here.
Driver Godfrey George, 1899.
This couple shares a grave. Till death do us apart, nay, for even in death they are together.
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.
What a tender to die at, 22 years. Lt R I Ward.
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.
He didn’t even live to be five.
Arthur Arnold George, died aged 1 and a half years.
Reginald George, lived for 9 months only.
Lt Carmont Owen.
I could just make out the words Flight Lieutenant.
Amidst the shrubbery, lots of graves.
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.
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”
More airmen’s graves.
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?