Hollanders Green Cemetery, Bheemunipatnam
Bheemunipatnam is believed to be in existence ever since Mahabharata period as it takes its name from one of Pandavas, mighty Bheem. Research discloses its origin dating back to the third century BC, and its relation to the rise of early Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh.
Crowned as second municipality in Indian mainland, established around 150 years ago, it is a part of Visakhapatnam district. During 17th century, Bheemili was a Dutch settlement, and it housed one of the oldest ports on the East coast. Remains of an old ruined fort, houses and cemetery build by the Dutch near the beach can be found.
The Dutch Cemetry (The Hollanders Green Cemetery) at Bheemili Beach, stands 24 kilometers from Vizag (Vishakhapatnam), Andhra Pradesh, India. The Hollanders Green Cemetery is one of the oldest Christian cemeteries in India. Built in the 16th century, at the time when Bheemili was known as a Dutch trading post, the cemetery contains graves and memorial tombstones of the Dutch and the English. The Cemetry is unique because, each grave describes the details about the cause of death. There are around 53 intriguing graves and memorial tombstones in the Cemetry. The graves that stand out are those of a Dutch family that hold an overhead obelisk-like conical tower and have the engraving of a skull-and-bones crossed pirate symbol, with inscriptions in Dutch. A majority of these grass-patched tombs are in white marble (built in Calcutta in the late 16th century) and still carry traces of intricate craftsmanship. Although parts of the cemetery show signs of neglect, efforts are being made by the local municipal authorities to maintain this heritage site.
Photographs: All photographs by Rhea Judith D’Souza.