I faintly remembered reading about an old cemetery behind the temple complex. The British Garrison Cemetery lies just behind the world famous Temple of Tooth Relic. I got acquainted with the Kandy National Museum caretaker. He was surprised when I asked him the way to this cemetery; I think it was unusual for a foreign visitor to show interest in a cemetery than the temple. He showed us the way and walked with us. There it was, nestling below the udawatta forest behind the temple; a worn out sign post that could be easily missed, a short climb among houses and you find the entrance.
This colonial graveyard seems forgotten; the temple being the place where the action and swarm of visitors are. True; there was complete silence in there. No breeze, no chirps, no one to talk to; old and beaten tombstones of myriad designs and stories to tell. Then, a thin frail man appeared from nowhere - it was straight out of a ghost story. He gave some insights - the cemetery was open from 1822 to mid 1850s; in these graves were British men, women and children who succumbed to heat, malaria, cholera. I recall seeing graves of many women and children; average age at 30s. It was sad to see women and children having come all the way from a far away land only to die at young age; to learn how alien the tropical climate diseases were. Never to return to their home; at sleep peacefully.The graves are ornate, well preserved and the stories are rich - story of an officer who was killed by a wild elephant, stories of bravery and tragedy
I did not ask for the chap's name who just came out of nowhere. His English was impeccable; accented. I doubt if he was a Sri Lankan. I was busy clicking photos of the tombs; never once did I think of taking his picture. Now it seems I should have. If I am not wrong; I think I talked to the caretaker who has been mentioned all around the internet by visitors to the cemetery.
Its a must-visit; I did not think I would have ever recommended a cemetery as tourist attraction but this is a sure visit.
Silent and tranquil
Eerie? No it did not feel so. I loved the details on this tomb.
A Stupa atop the hill. Peace we say? No. The cemetery is 'higher' than the Tooth Relic temple. This stupa seems to be a temporary solution to keep the cemetery at a lower level; so is under threat of being moved to a different place.