Haunted Places

Dead Men Tell No Tales: Nicholson Cemetery

The Nicholson Cemetery is located just across the Kashmere Gate metro station in New Delhi. It is one of the oldest graveyards in the city, easily surpassing a hundred and fifty years, being named after a war hero during the 1857 sepoy mutiny. Brigadier-General John Nicholson was an Irishman who served the East India Company. And during the Sepoy Mutiny, he'd shown exemplary skills as a leader and soldier on the battlefield and was even dubbed the "Lion of Punjab". Seen as a war hero he played a major part in suppressing the "rebellion" and went on to have songs sung about his heroism.

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He was even used to inspire the youth to join the army. There was even a grand statue of him built. The naming of the graveyard alone is a big sign. But just as he was a hero on one side of the battle, he was a villain on the other. Soon after the independence, his statue was removed. Not much of  a hero when you've helped slaughter the locals after having suppressed them for hundreds of years.

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But then again there is the argument that he was merely doing his role and from the looks of things he'd done a pretty good job of it (as a soldier). Anyway, his name still stands tall on the cemetery gate with his tomb being the fanciest one in it. Cut out of a giant piece of marble, and having words inscribed on it to make it even more royal. He even has a cute fence around it to protect it from vandals but the plants seem to care less and have already begun to invade it.

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History aside the cemetery is anything but scary. Even with so many dead resting in the soil and their tombstones crowding the lot, one feels strangely at peace in this serene graveyard. The names and years etched on them show that most of them date back as far as the 1800s and sadly, that they died at an early age. From young mothers to children, life during that period in India seemed rather harsh. Even the great general Nicholson died at 35. The newer graves are positioned more to one corner.

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Unlike the other graveyards in the city, this one seems to have barely any rumours of ghost stories but people do stay away from it once the day begins to fade because of the general superstition that the dead get more active at night. Turns out a lot of the public have been brought up to believe that cremating the dead helps release the "soul" from the physical constraints of the body so when the body is buried the soul is still trapped in the physical realm which gives rise to "bhoots". Wow. So what happens when we don't burn the dead but eat their bodies? Don't fret, I'm talking about the countless birds that go into our butter chicken. Just some food for thought. See what I did there? Boo.

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