Armenian cemeteries in India to be restored

Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Martirosyan, has assured Archaeology Department of undertaking translation of epitaphs on the 20 graves, The Hindu reports.

Armen Martirosyan visited the Armenian cemetery, a visit that connected him to some unknown countrymen, who were laid to rest here a few centuries ago. Neither they were his ancestors nor he ever learnt about their existence, but the emotion was pretty visible as he walked through the small cemetery.

Armen Martirosyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia precisely went through the bundle of emotions visiting the 17th century Armenian Cemetery, now in almost a dilapidated state in Uppuguda, a part of the old city of Hyderabad. “I am moved after coming here. I feel nostalgic. We need to restore the cemetery for the next generations to have a glimpse of the past,” Mr. Martirosyan said after spending nearly an hour in the cemetery.

If his renovation plans fructify, Armenians visiting the city in the future will learn about their countrymen who inhabited Hyderabad nearly four centuries ago.

Mr. Armen Martirosyan visited the cemetery along with Rev. Fr. Zaven Yazichyan, Pastor Manager Indian –Armenian Spiritual Pastorate, Kolkatta and N.R. Visatatchy Director State Archaeology and Museums Department to take stock of its condition and determine what can be done to restore it.

In October this year, The Hindu carried a detailed report about the neglect of the cemetery following which the management of the Armenian Spiritual Pastorate, Kolkatta contacted the reporter.

A visit of Monday’s delegation was a result of that report.

Officials of the Archaeology Department were enthused when Mr. Martirosyan assured them of undertaking translation of epitaphs on the 20 graves which include that of 19 Armenians and one Dutch trader. Archaeological excavation of the cemetery could be taken up before beautification. The visiting Armenian delegation said it would photograph all the graves and publish a book after gathering details about those laid to rest here.

“Generally, tourists coming to the India visit Agra, Kolkatta and Chennai for they know that there are few churches and cemeteries there. We will take up a campaign to highlight the cemetery at Hyderabad for our people to visit,” Mr Martirosyan explained.

Armenians came to India between 16th and 17th centuries as traders, travelling through Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet.

“A large number of Armenians settled in Hyderabad during the 17th century. Though there are no written records of their activities, traditions and social conditions, the Armenian epitaphs acknowledge their presence,” M.A. Qayyum, former Deputy Director Archaeology and Museums said.

The graves of two priests Rev. Johannes, who died in 1680, and Rev. Margar, who died in 1724, are also here.

“A team of archaeologist soon will take up excavation at the site. There is a proposal to develop a small garden and appoint guards for security,” N.R. Visatatchy, Director State Archaeology and Museums Department.

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