Home > Cemetery, Delhi, Delhi Architecture, Delhi History, General > Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi

Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi

Nicholson Cemetery

Kashmiri Gate, Delhi

Although Delhi has been know for its pre Mughal and Mughal architecture and it does have its share of colonial architecture. Lutyen’s Delhi, consisting of the India Gate, Rastrapati Bhavan, Secretariat and the Parliament House, consists of the hub of British colonial architecture in Delhi.

Scattered graves at the Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

Scattered graves at the Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

Among the lesser known colonial monuments is the Mutiny Memorial on Delhi North Ridge (Kamala Nehru Ridge) stands out so does the St. James’ Church near Kashmir Gate. Also near the Kashmir Gate lies the Nicholson Cemetery providing an interesting glimpses of Delhi’s colonial past.

Entrance of Nicholson Cemetery. L: from outside, R: from inside

Entrance of Nicholson Cemetery. L: from outside, R: from inside

The cemetery is the final resting place of hundred of Christians (both British and Indian) and its still in operation. Kashmiri Gate (Yellow & Red line intersection) is the nearest metro and the entrance to the Nicholson Cemetery lies very next to the Gate No. 4 of Kashmiri Gate’s yellow line.

Brigadier General John Nicholson's grave, Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

Brigadier General John Nicholson’s grave, Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

A beautiful cottage styled arched gateway welcomes visitors into the cemetery. The gateway also doubles up as the living quarters of the cemetery’s caretaker and his family. The cemetery in named after Brigadier General John Nicholson, who is often considered by the British as the hero of the Revolt of 1857.

During the revolt of i857 John Nicholson was instrumental in breaching the defenses of rebels who were controlling the walled city of Shahjahanabad and in the process lost his life.

Epitaph of John Nicholson grave

Epitaph of John Nicholson grave

He was shot near the Lahore Gate and was carried back to the camp. He died a slow and painful death.

He succumbed to his injuries only after he had heard the news of Delhi’s recapture by the British. Nicholson was a great swordsman and commander who effectively enjoyed the loyalty of his troops.

Such was Nicholson’s charisma, that his soldiers considered him as an incarnation of Vishnu and a cult called ‘Nikal Seyn’ developed around him. On the other hand Nicholson had little tolerance for superstition and was furious at their attempts to worship him.

According to legend his men who were hardened soldiers, gave up fighting after their commander’s death. They picked up flowers from his grave & went back to their homelands.

The grave of John Nicholson lies just right of the entrance and is fenced by an iron railing. The epitaph reads:

The grave of Brigadier General John Nicholson who led the assault of Delhi but fell in the hour of victory mortally wounded and died 23rd September 1857 aged 35

Grave of Yasudas Ramachandra

Grave of Yasudas Ramachandra

The Nicholson Cemetery, which is still active, is scattered with graves. During my visit in April 2017 the grass were overgrown making several graves inaccessible.

Many of the graves were in dilapidated condition and marble plaques were missing in several occasion.

Another important person to be buried in the Nicholson Cemetery is Yesudas Ramachandra, professor of Mathematics at Delhi Government College.

Master Ramachandra was one of the leading personalities of Delhi in the first half of 19th century. A converted Christian, he was treated as a traitor by the rebels and had to flee Delhi during the Revolt of 1857. Upon his return to the vanquished city, the British did not treat him any better.

Scattered graves surrounded by over grown grass at Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

Scattered graves surrounded by over grown grass at Nicholson Cemetery, Kashmir Gate, Delhi

His grave is located on the right hand side of the central path almost at the end of the cemetery. The tomb with a damaged headstone has epitaphs in both English and Urdu. The English one reads:

Sacred in memory of

YASUDAS RAMCHANDRA

Professor of Mathematics at the Delhi Govt. Collegefrom 1844 to 1857. And afterwards for some time tutor of HRH the Maharaja of Patiala and Director of Public Instruction in that state.

Baptised 11th March 1853

Died 11th Aug 1880

“WHO EVER SHALL CONFESS ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I CONFESS ALSO BEFORE MY FATHER, WHICH IS IN HEAVEN”

Necessary Information:

Location: Kashmiri Gate (Yellow & Red line intersection) is the nearest metro and the entrance to the Nicholson Cemetery lies very next to the Gate No. 4 of Kashmir Gate’s yellow line.

Note: Photography is permitted and entry is free.

  1. Noel Dias
    March 21, 2018 at 7:35 AM

    Very informative and very well written.
    THANK you.

  2. Jean Andrews
    March 21, 2018 at 1:32 PM

    Very interesting article. My GG Grandfather, Edward Roberts, was headmaster at the Delhi College at the time of the revolt and I have read Ramchandra’s account of the fateful morning when the mutineers arrived in Delhi and he (Ramchandra) met with Edward and the Principal before everyone had to flee for their lives. Edward and one of his little sons was later killed at the Lahore gate with a number of other Europeans who had supposedly been given shelter.. I understand that their bodies were thrown down a well(?) so there is no grave to visit. Edward’s wife and the other little boy eventually made it to Lucknow where they survived the siege..
    I would love to make contact with a historian in Delhi who can help with my research. I was born in Allahabad in 1944 – the fifth generation in our family to be born in India.

    • March 24, 2018 at 9:15 AM

      Dear Jean thank you for sharing the heart breaking story of your great grandfather. I am not a historian and not based in Delhi, but I will try my best to get in touch with the concerned people.

      Also, may I know the source of Ramchandra’s account of the fateful morning. If it is available online, do share the link. Also I am personally very interested to know about your family history in India.

      My email is rangan@rangan-datta.info please do keep in touch.

  3. Suddha Sattwa Basu
    March 22, 2018 at 4:18 PM

    Jean, I am connected to the renowned historian Prof Amiya Sen, who is a best selling author in topics related to 1857 mutiny and is also a decorated Oxford Scholar. Prof Sen is based in Delhi and I will request Rangan Datta to pass on his co-ordinates to you, so that you can directly approach him with your research request

    • March 24, 2018 at 9:17 AM

      Thanks Suddha, can you please share Prof Amiya Sen’s email. You can mail it to me at rangan@rangan-datta.info

    • Jean Andrews
      March 24, 2018 at 4:47 PM

      Many thanks Suddha – that sounds very interesting! I wonder if Prof Sen will be able to fill in a few gaps for me!

  4. Nik
    March 23, 2018 at 11:57 AM

    This is great! The quality of writing coupled with a great choice of topic is what makes this article awesome. Kudos!
    Also, visit http://www.wheelstreet.com to rent all your favorite bikes at the most affordable prices.

    • March 24, 2018 at 9:18 AM

      Thanks Nik, not a biking person but still thanks for your inspiring comments. Keep reading my blog.

  5. Kauhik
    December 3, 2018 at 10:43 AM

    Ranganbabu,
    Came across your wonderful site through a Twitter link from Dalrymple. Very interesting.Only, I wish I had known about it 46 years ago, when as a student of St. Stephen’s I spent many an afternoon at the Ridge.
    Also, the images of the terracotta figures on your page are excellent. Are they by any chance from the Char Bangla temples near Murshidabad?

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