My visit to the Roman catholic cemetery in Agra has been long pending and I was able to make it here finally during my colonial tour organised by Tourism Guilt of Agra. Roman Catholic Cemetery was known to me mainly because of a Red stone tomb which has gained recognition worldwide as the Red Taj Mahal of Agra, as it resemblances the iconic Taj Mahal. It was indeed interesting to note that both of these Taj Mahal’s in Agra are a standing epitome of love but with a twist though. What is more appalling is Agra’s Roman Catholic cemetery had remained limited to its star attraction of Red Taj Mahal but it showcases host of other historical events through its other monuments. Therefore, in this blog I shall be sharing an ultimate guide to explore the Roman catholic cemetery of Agra along with a bit of history of the red taj mahal
The Roman Catholic Cemetery of Agra
The Roman Catholic Cemetery of Agra is the oldest burial ground of the city, which came into existence when the Europeans came to Agra during the Mughal rule and settled here. Honestly, a walk around this burial ground of Roman catholic cemetery didn’t really give me good vibes and I wasn’t at ease while walking here. At my every step, there was a graveyard and you really need to be vigilant while exploring the Agra’s Roman Catholic cemetery, else chances are that you might step on one. Believe me it will not be a good feeling !
But, I guess the most striking thing that intrigued me while walking through the monuments inside the Roman Catholic cemetery of Agra is their resemblance to the Mughal architecture, despite the fact that it was set up by the Europeans. Mughal architecture is a star attraction of all the monuments in Agra, which has a rich past with its association of Mughal legacy. Enter the Roman Catholic Cemetery of Agra and you would find number of tombs, which are the highlight of Mughal legacy despite being built up by the non Mughal people
Infact, it will be difficult to make out that the tombs inside the roman catholic cemetery has no association with Mughals and buries the colonial officers instead, if I wouldn’t have spotted a cross (the holy symbol of Christianity) on the graveyards. Even the inscriptions on the walls are written in Persian language, which was the official language of the Mughal empire during the era. In a way, it can be said that Agra’s Roman Catholic Cemetery is symbolic of bringing together two cultures under its roof.
What are the prominent structures/ tombs inside Roman Catholic Cemetery of Agra
The Red Taj Mahal of Agra or the John Hessing’s Tomb
Without a doubt, the Red Taj Mahal is a star attraction of Roman Catholic cemetery in Agra which is famous for its resemblance to the iconic Taj Mahal. Though the red taj mahal wasn’t built in white marble and minars which are the four pillars surrounding the Taj Mahal. But what is interesting to note is that the red taj mahal of Agra is also a standing embodiment of love. The only difference is that the Red Taj Mahal was built by a wife in the loving memory of her husband.
The Red Taj of Agra is a tomb of Dutch mercenary John William Hessing, who was serving as a commander of Agra Fort. Hessing grave can be seen inside the dome of the Red Taj mahal, which is also the first tomb that you will see on entering the Roman Catholic cemetery. It is said that Hessing wife Anne was so devastated by his death, that she decided to donate all her savings and property to build the tomb of John Hessing, her beloved husband. The construction of Hessing tomb was left incomplete as his wife ran out of funds during its construction and hence the red taj mahal of Agra is without any minars
The Grave of JOHN MILDENHALL: The first englishman to be buried in India
John Mildenhall was the first english man to be buried in India. John Mildenhall came to Agra in 1603 as the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth, with an objective to obtain the free access for English ships to the Mughal ports.
It is said that during John Mildenhall touring across India, he fell severely ill and died in June 1614, in Ajmer. His body was brought to Roman catholic cemetery in Agra where he was eventually buried. Infact, after his burial a number of other Englishmen were also buried here.
Marty’s Chapel is the oldest structure inside the Roman catholic cemetery, which has got its name from Armenian merchant by the name of Khoja Mortenepus (A.K.A. Khwaja Mortenepus or Khoja Martyrose), who was buried here in 1611.
Also buried in the chapel is an Armenian Bishop by the name of Zakur of Tabriz, along with a large number of other priests of various nationalities.. Also, inside the tombs, there are places where Hindus and Muslims have been burning It is commonly visited by Christians who light candles and incense sticks and leave flowers on the tombstones.
The Ellis Family Tomb
This octagonal domed tomb of Ellis family was built on a red sandstone plinth. Inside is the gravestone of Francis Ellis who died in Agra in 1868.
Surrounding the edifice on the plinth are the markers of seven more members of the Ellis family.
I am sure there are other prominent graves inside here at Roman Catholic cemetery in Agra which are noteworthy but these has been the most important which were pointed out to me during my colonial tour in Agra. One thing that I really want to mention is that Agra is much more than the Taj Mahal and there is so much to explore. I have already written additional travel guides, which you can read here. Do let me know in the comment section below if you know of one or ever heard or visited Roman Catholic Cemetery of Agra or hard about the red taj mahal ?
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