Cemetery Details

Old Cemetery in Murree

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General view of the Old Cemetery
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Photo by Dr Ali Jan
General View of The Old Cemetery
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Photo by Dr Ali Jan
A General view of the Old Cemetery
small photo
view bigger image  View high resolution image (246KB)
Photo by Dr Ali Jan
Submitted by Dr Ali Jan

Murree lies at approx 6000 ft at the foot of Himalayas in Pakistan. It is an alpine hill-station in the North of Punjab province bordering the Kashmir region that lies on a horizontal ridge running in East-West direction.

Murree was established as a summer "hill-station" for the British families in order to escape the heat of the Indian plains consequent to the British annexation of the Punjab in 1849 from Sikh rule. After 1857 when the British Raj formally extended its sovereignty over India, a structured administration commenced in the Punjab. Murree became the summer capital of India and remained so until the end of nineteenth century. The creation of another summer capital at Simla (now in India) in the later half of the 19th century eased the load on Murree hills a bit. However it continued to serve its purpose.

The English had this urge to carve a bit of England in India. It was like any European town. One can still find a number of churches and chapels, 6 cemeteries, convents, a Mall and remains of a club and brewery etc apart from the many cantonments and old English settlements built in and around the town. One comes across many English sounding names of streets and houses. The local buildings and structures were built in typical English taste and many have survived the last 100-150 years. A sanatorium for sick soldiers and many hospitals were also built here.

Holy Trinity Church was one of the earliest buildings to be erected. It stands out as a prominent landmark in almost all the photos of Murree taken before the partition of India. Until 1875, it lay further away from the then main market or "lower bazaar" as it is now known. But when the "Great Fire" burned down the market in 1875 a new Mall strip was built in its place in an area overlooked by the church grounds and parallel to the "lower bazaar". Over the following years, the Mall became the main market place and today has turned into a bustling business centre.

There were a total of 16 cemeteries located in and around Murree Hills from British times. Unfortunately, they are in various stages of neglect today. However, Susan Maria Farrington of British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) deserves the credit for recording all the grave inscriptions in Murree and the nearby settlements in the mid 1990s. Moreover, I have spent the last 3 years in photographing all the surviving headstones in various cemeteries and that is now in the process of being preserved in the form of a digital catalogue.

The Victorian cemeteries are of immense importance from a genealogical and historical point of view. They are irreplaceable landscapes and have been neglected for decades everywhere in this part of the world. They must be included in the threatened monuments and the heritage lists. Besides local initiatives by citizens, the British and Pakistan Governments and their agencies need to play a more pro-active role in their upkeep. Moreover, the involvement of national and international NGOs in their conservation is also necessary to seek a broader base of support. We must salvage our surviving heritage sites and historic landmarks before they are erased from our collective consciousness.

Dr Ali Jan - Sarhad Conservation Network

The Old Cemetery Murree
This is the oldest cemetery as the name suggests with the earliest standing tombstone from 1850. Many army regiments and battalions are represented here. Present location: It is near the Murree Bus Stop in the "Agency" area in Murree. All surviving headstones in the cemetery have been photographed by Dr Ali Jan of the Sarhad Conservation Network.


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