Epitaphs for European officers

Epitaphs for European officers

 Encouraged by British tour operators, Britons come here to see cemeteries of their forefathers dating back to the British Raj. The revolt and the massacres after the Mutiny led to many burials in British garrisons, cantonments and towns in North and South India.

Karnataka has a fair share of heritage cemeteries eligible for cemetery tourism including Agram Cemetery in Bangalore, Baithkol Cemetery near Mangalore and another cemetery in Ramandroog (Ramgad), a former hill station in Sandur Hills of Bellary district.
The Garrison Cemetery in Srirangapatna has a lot of history attached to it. It is about 300 metres from the the main road. One is not likely to notice it unless one sees a small stone landmark on the Bangalore-Mysore road which says, “Garrison Cemetery 1800-1860, 300 mts.” The cemetery with 310 tombstones contains many interesting epitaphs to the British and European civil and military officers who died between 1800 and 1860.

On a marble stone on the entrance gate reads, “Garrison Cemetery AD 1800. Latest burial 1860.” While some tombstones are imposing, others are small, in the shape of a coffin and said to contain the remains of infants who died due to plague.
Many officers of the Swiss Regiment de Meuron are buried here. The Regiment de Meuron was a regiment of infantry originally raised in Switzerland in 1781. The regiment was named after its commander, Colonel Charles Daniel de Meuron. It served the Dutch East India Company in Ceylon and Cape Town.

They subsequently entered British service, with the understanding that the British would enroll them at the same rate as regular British soldiers and give them the back pay owed by the Dutch East India Company. By 1798, this had all been straightened out, and the Regiment de Meuron were fully entered into British service. They served in the Mysore Campaign (Srirangapatna) of 1799.

The Srirangapatna Garrison Cemetery was restored in recent times by the Swiss De Meuron family. A marble plaque erected in recent times reads, “In memory of Louis Dominique de Meuron (1936-07) and Monique de Meuron (1939-2007) who undertook the restoration of the Garrison cemetery (January 2007 - September 2008).” Nagaraj, caretaker of the cemetery, maintains a log book where the rare visitor, mainly foreigners, write their comments and their appreciation. The cemetery is located close to the river Cauvery. Nagaraj, a native of Srirangapatna, says that he was one of the workers along with other workers from Jharkhand, who were engaged in the restoration work. After the restoration work, he was asked to be a caretaker. He opens the cemetery gates at 9 am and closes it at 6 pm.
Michael Patrao

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