Bhowanipur Cemetery was situated in 1907. Its postal address is 15, D.L.Khan Road, Alipore, Kolkata. The cemetery has nearly 40 bighas of land and is divided into two portions. The bigger land is used for the private civilians and the smaller portion which is separated by a fenced boundary is maintained by Common Wealth War Graves Commission with its head office in U.K.
Common Wealth War Graves Commission has grave yards in approx146 countries. In India they have 1 cemetery each in Kolkata, Ranchi, Delhi, Guwahati, Digbuoy, Kohima, Manipur and 2 grounds in Chennai and Imphal with the Regional Office in Delhi. The entire task is managed by 2 managers- one from Imphal, who takes care of the North East and the other from Delhi, who takes care of the remaining.
The official records of the headstones of the Indian military cemeteries under the Common Wealth War Graves Commission states:-
10, 995- Identified
521 - Unidentified
77 - Other Nations
203 - Non War Graves
23 - Burial Grounds
51,150 - Common Wealth War dead Commemorated on Memoriam
62,145 - Common Wealth War dead Commemorated by name.
The War Graveyards of Bhowanipur Cemetery has an area of approx 1.5 acres of land with grave plots of 200 meters. It is basically an old European Military Cemetery. The area have the cemeteries in honour of the militants of the World War-1(1914-1918) and World War-11(1939-1945) .In all other cemeteries of India, there are the head stones of the warriors of World War-11 but Kolkata have for the both. Previously, the sepulchers with wooden cross were in the undivided plot for the commons but after Common Wealth War Graves Commission took the charge for the separate portion inside it in the pre-independence era , the headstones were made in their memoriam with their details of identifications. The headstones of the world war -1 are 1” thin and those of the world war-11 are 3” thick. The cemeteries of the North East have pedestals of concrete bases. On it there is a wax polished bronze plate with all the details of the dead warriors. The stones for the head stones were brought from Botaciona of Italy and from Portland of U.K. The former were of powder type so no fungus could grow there whereas the later were of porous and rough type and so got affected easily during the monsoon period. They were imported duty free. The maintenances of the graveyards are taken care by the Ministry of Defence of the Indian Government.
In Kolkata, apart from the Bhowanipur Cemetery, the honourable headstones of the warriors of the world wars lie in some different parts of Kolkata too. 2 of them are in Lower Circular Road cemetery, 1 in Entally, 17 in Barrackpore and 9 in Dum Dum.
In the middle of the military grave yard campus there is a beautiful bunglow type office chamber of the manager, Mr.Joardar. He is in charge of Kolkata and Ranchi. The most significant part of the building is that there is not a single brick in it. The entire building is made up of Jaipur dullper stone, brought from Rajasthan and the heavy, hardy and costly willow wood for the door and windows was imported from England. It was entirely supervised by Mr.Joardar. The architects were the eminents Mr. M. Chauhan and Mr. Kamal Chakraborty.
The cemetery holds a peaceful atmosphere. Serenity and silence prevails everywhere around. The headstones and the entire area are well maintained by only two staffs under the oversight of Mr.Joardar. Colourful flowers, creepers and greenery harmonize wonderfully with its background.
There are head stones of certain participants of the wars who had a passive contribution with it, such as cook, driver or doctor who had not fought actively in the wars.
There are also of some non war sepulchers that were placed in this area during the undivided land. British Government had decided to keep those intact with the militants in a separate row, to show honour to those dead souls.
The headstones are often visited by the descendants, friends or families and they offer bouquet of flowers and keep silent for a while in the honour of their memory. Ruskin Bond, the eminent author visits this place whenever he visits India because here lies the head stone of his father Aubrey Alexander Bond, who had served the RAF at the time of World War-11.
We were able to gather the entire information with utmost cooperation by the military cemetery manager Mr.Joardar.
The Bhowanipur Cemetery originated as the Hospitals Burial Grounds and was attached to the Presidency General (now S.S.K.M.) hospital soon after 1768. There are numerous graveyards in the civilian section. The cemeteries have deep religious significance amongst the believers and the Christian community in general. On some special days and occasions, a large number of Christian people gather here to pay homage to their beloved. Nearly everyday different burials take place in the cemeteries.
The graveyards are kept neat and clean in most of the places.
There are some beautiful works of art too.