City Landmark – Five Graves, Around Town
In the city of tomns.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Good puzzle would be to cross Delhi without passing a grave. Sometimes anonymous graves lie clustered in neighbourhood alleys (see photo). Here are the city’s five lesser known but significant graves.
The marble slab bearing the Ashoka seal describes him as “A gentle colossus” and her as the “First Lady of India’.” President K.R. Narayanan’s ashes lies interred here, at the Christian Cemetery on Prithviraj Road. His wife, the Burma-born Usha, was buried at the same place. He died in 2005. She died three years later. The grave is also engraved with her birth name, Ma Tint Tint. A pomegranate tree leans over the couple.
Martyr of ‘65
He lies buried at the Jewish Cemetery, next-door to Khan Market. Breaking the news of his death in 1965, the Bombay Jewish Central Board hailed Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Ephraim Jhirad as a “faithful son of the Jewish people of India, who served his country bravely and laid down his life defending its integrity and freedom.” The grave’s inscription reads: “Wise in heart and mighty in strength. He died on 17 September during the India-Pakistan war while commanding the 8th battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. He was greatly mourned by Joyce Rebecca, his beloved wife.”
Her grave lies amid wild grass, here at the Nicholson Cemetery. A chance encounter plucked her from being an anonymous dancer in Vienna to an altogether different life as Rani Tara Devi in India. She ended her life by jumping from Qutub Minar. The fading French inscription on the stone slab says (in translation):
Born on 22 January 1914
Dead on 8 December 1946
Spouse of his highness
The Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala
Sorry that she had such an unexpected end
May God rest her soul.”
His grave lies in Purani Dilli, beside Meena Bazar. General Shah Nawaz Khan served in the Indian National Army (INA) under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose during WW2, and was convicted for treason in 1945 by the British in the Red Fort, along with two other INA heroes—Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Dhillon. The marble grave lies within a small garden; the other grave belongs to his wife. Begum Karim Jaan. According to the inscriptions, she died 13 years after his passing in 1983.
The status of a princess could not give her the dignity of a lasting grave. Roshanara Begum, Shahjahan’s daughter, lies in an austere 17th century edifice in the north of the city; a rectangular strip of recessed earth is considered to be her burial place.