September 12, 2017

Armenian Cemetery - The Madras Unknown

The association of Armenians with India is very old. Arguably, the Armenians are believed to have come to India as part of the forces under Alexander.

The Armenians have trading relationships with various parts of India for several centuries and hence they had their settlements all over India. It is believed that the Armenians settled in Madras probably towards the end of the 17th century CE.

The Armenian Street in George Town and the Armenian Church are the well known landmarks of the Armenians in Chennai. However, there is yet another landmark in the city, which is literally unknown. That is the Armenian Cemetery.

The Armenian Cemetery is located on Pallavan Salai. It is hidden inside a slum area near Kendriya Vidyalaya School.

This cemetery was built in 1812 CE. As per the historian Mr. Sriram V., the Armenians petitioned the Government that the cemetery in their church yard was full and a new site was needed in the same year. It was apparently given to them as per their request.

The area is completely encroached. The cemetery is closed and locked with a big grille gate. There are few tombs that are visible from outside. Who all lie there? Any important personality, by any chance? How many tombs are there? Who actually controls this site now? And, how to enter inside? The questions remain unanswered.

Happy travelling.

P.S. My sincere thanks to Mr. Sriram V., who took me to this site, as part of a heritage walk in 2017 CE.

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