The European cemetery, Karnal, Haryana - victims of Cholera

he European  cemetery in Karnal

The European  cemetery in Karnal,Haryana.

Location map Karnal Haryana huighwqay com.

The cemetery in Karnal, Haryana State just  across  the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) on the Old GT Road is yet another European cemetery  where European soldiers were  buried. This historical site is supposedly one of the  vestiges of the past colonial era in this part of India. The cemetery covers  8,172 sq meter with more than 500 graves of European soldiers and their family members. They were  from the period between 1806 and 1843. Incidentally Karnal was the first modern town established by the British with  rows of houses, barracks, malls, etc.  General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of her Majesty’s Indian Forces, who died of cholera on May 27, 1857 was buried here.  Later, his family members exhumed his body and took it to England. 

Presently, under the control of the ASI, the cemetery is in a state of neglect with over growth of bushes, trees, creepers, etc. Thick bushes hide the pathways. It is likely, there may be poisonous snakes, etc inside the grave.  The Kurukshetra ASI office put the blame on the Horticulture dept. that was supposed to maintain a garden in that area. Any place of burial should be given due care and the govt. should take steps to repair and restore it back to old glory. If the grave is in a bad state, we are hurting the sentiments of those British descendants who come here  all the way to pay respect to their forefathers, Such colonial monuments need to be saved and restored for the posterity.  The Commonwealth War Grave Commission can be roped in  for the  restoration work. 
Also established with the graveyard was the church tower. Invariably the tall memorial gravestones show Gothic style, a feature common in the European graves of that period. What was the reason for the burial place for Europeans in this area? Several historians are of the view that this town Karnal became a cantonment in 1806 because of troop movements between this part to the western regions like East Punjab and North West frontier regions. 
Cholera was a dreaded disease in those days and the medication available then was not an effective one. Apparently the people who were buried in the graves at Karnal  had died of  malaria and cholera till 1842. “This (Yamuna) canal used to flow near the colony of the British officers (now Mall Road) and due to seepage into it malaria had become an epidemic, forcing them to leave Karnal” said, Prof. Raghuvendra Tanwar, Professor of history and Director of the Haryana Academy of History and Culture. The  canal  and the stagnant water could be the major reason  for the outbreak of malaria in the area. The living quarters of the British officers were close to the canal and the frequent seepage favored the breeding of Malaria mosquitoes. 

This forced  the shifting of the Army cantonment to Ambala in 1843. Even now, Ambala cantonment is one of the major Army and Air Force centers in this country. The Presence of unpredictable Pakistan close-by and the chaotic misrule is the reason for keeping the army base here. Strategically, Ambala was a better place than Karnal. 
At that point of time The British company had its eyes glued on the rich province of Punjab and Maharajah Ranjeet Singh  was a good administrator and posed a challenge to the greedy British officials. The mighty river Sutlej was yet another challenge to them. After the ruler's death in 1839, the English army moved over to Ambala. 
The links with our past history can't be established without monuments. They need to be safeguarded and preserved for future study.