Kandy, Sri Lanka offers a variety of sights and sounds to visitors. One of them is worth a visit if only because it is an oasis of calm and just steps away from the hustle and bustle. It also happens to be a graveyard.
One of the most rewarding things to do in Kandy is to visit Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, which houses the sacred relic, a tooth of the Buddha. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth is a very popular site for both pilgrims and tourists and tends to be crowded throughout its opening hours. Once you have finished your visit of the temple, my recommendation is to head for the British Garrison Cemetery which is just a short walk and a climb away.
Entering the British Garrison Cemetery is like entering another world. I don’t mean leaving the world of the living, but a world of calm and quiet. More likely than not, you will be the only visitor and you can walk around the grounds reading the tombstones and discovering what life might have been like for the 195 people buried there. These are mostly graves of British nationals who died between 1817 when the cemetery was established and 1873 when it was closed. After 1873 only relatives of those already buried here could be buried at the British Garrison Cemetery and the last burial was in 1951.
During your time at the cemetery you will likely meet the young volunteer caretaker of the cemetery Harsha. He is very knowledgeable about everything that is there in the cemetery and can guide you through the graveyard, sharing information on each of the 195 headstones, tablets, obelisks and columns. While there, Harsha took us to the caretaker’s office and showed us the many photographs adorning the walls. Including one special photo, which has him showing Prince Charles around the cemetery.
The British Garrison Cemetery in Kandy is maintained by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) which also maintains nearly 23,000 other cemeteries around the world. If you would like to know more about CWGC, I recommend you visit their website here. It has tons of interesting information, including facts and figures.
While there is no entry fee, you can leave a donation in the caretaker’s office, which I would highly recommend. It goes a long way in helping preserve a bit of history from more than a 100 years ago.