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local factors such as society, culture, climate, materials, technology and workmanship, and ended up with a hybrid type that graciously accommodated local features to represent the genesis of a new built form, the churches of Bangladesh that became an integral part of the architecture of Bangladesh.

3.1.5 Christian Cemetery at Wari, Dhaka

The cemetery is situated at Wari, the outskirt of the then city, which later developed itself as the residential area mainly for the government officials. The cemetery was developed mainly for the European traders and their families. The earliest inscription found there dates back to 1724 CE. About a century after, when Bishop Heber came to visit Dhaka city in 1824, he found the cemetery in a declining state at a wild and dismissal place, surrounded by wildness of ruins and jungles. When F.B. Bradley Burt visited the site in 1906, he also noticed the sign of decay but it had a quite different, more emotional romantic appeal to him.

Layout of the cemetery

The monuments are arranged arbitrarily without considering any provision for setback space. The original road layout in this part of the Christian cemetery has faded away with time, but from the arrangements of the existing structures it can be speculated that a couple of straight roads intersected to create a path system within that network. It seems that the tombs were jumbled into a group to form one or two clusters, and little attention was paid to make the clusters visible even to an interested visitor. The site of the cemetery complex can be divided into reasonably three parts. The first part contains the oldest tombs, ranging from 1724 to 1850 CE, second part contains the graves built up to the time of independence, that is,1850-1947 CE. The rest contains the comparatively contemporary constructions. There are six type of tombs in the complex.

Building type: A

It is not possible to pass any comment on the graves where there no structure or inscription remains; same is the situation with the graves where they are found to be of completely new constructions, even the originality of the position of the grave and the inscription can be questioned, because the frequent interaction taking place in the monuments can be noted to any visitor, who has no idea about the originality of the relics.

Building type: B

The so called Moorish type gateway, severely altered, creates an axis which literally leads to nowhere. The position of the most imposing monuments of the complex suggests that the gateway was placed irrespective of their position; rather it has just provided a plane of entrance towards the empty field situated in the original center of the complex. It’s position also brings us to the conclusion that no formal layout was maintained, though it is one of the most essential prerequisites to any Indian complex, during the establishment and during expansion.


Building type: C, D and E- Obelisk, Urn, Pyramid (1851, 1807, 1792 CE) The obelisks and the urn types somewhat resemble the contemporary best known English cemeteries in Calcutta. Generally speaking they confirm to the Baroque character like that of the older and provincial cemeteries. The pyramids are the most radically formed of the structures. The earliest known such pyramidal structure dates back to 1680 in Madras; the shape of the pyramid is a little different than that of their Egyptian origin. They are characterized with less broad base, smoothly uplifted to an acute angled apex. This Indian version of pyramid stands on a podium where the inscriptions are laid. Adoption to this type of foreign and exotic form for the monuments indicates the highly romantic attitude to adopt elements from distant cultures by the European builders.

Building type: F- Pavilion (1734-1849 CE)

The final type, that is the temple like monuments in forms of pavilions are the most interesting and striking features of the cemetery complex. The plan varied from round to square and octagonal one with Doric and Ionic columns. Prototypes of such monuments are found in the South Park Cemetery, Calcutta. Although construction rather similar to these types exist in Europe, their exact prototypes cannot be traced out. Moreover, even if any prototype was followed the project went under simultaneous changes and alterations due to the reason described earlier. Far example use of kalasa, variations of pointed dome etc. must have their origin in the unskilled minds of the local masons employed in construction Among these pavilions the most eye catching and perhaps frequently quoted is the one known as Colombo Saheb’s Tomb.

First of all it should be mentioned here that the mausoleum contains three graves, surprisingly off-centeredly placed, without any inscription. The seventeen inscriptions found attached to the wall panels inside are not in their original position. These inscriptions were brought inside the tomb by the caretaker of the cemetery when their original structures collapsed due to weathering or any other reason. A careful study on the position of the tablets inside the mausoleum will make it clear that either the panel sizes do not go with the size of the inscriptions or asymmetric position of the tablet indicates it’s later addition. The largest and centrally located Ezekiel Beck’s inscription (1791 CE) is not in it’s original position, because it is clearly visible that the panel where it is embedded was to be reconstructed or enlarged to accommodate the tablet larger in size, where the other normal panel size is 1´-9´´ by 3´-4´´, the heck’s panel size is 2´-3´´ by 3´-4´´ and the sign of alteration is clearly evident. Moreover, when Bishop Heber visited the site and Bradly Birt recorded the incident both of them failed to provide any information about it’s originality. Even if we cannot pin-point the exact date of construction we can of course draw a range of time from the dates of inscriptions within it’s close vicinity.


A morphological study of the mausoleum reveals that the builders wanted to execute a very ambitious and exotic scheme of solving the long handled Indian problem of monumentality The lower part of the mausoleum resembles to the features of any average Mughal mosque square in plan with four doorways on each side. As projected by the builder the main effect is produced by the front view with it’s facades decorated by means of three planes comprising a large central face and a lesser one on each side ended up with an octagonal tower at the angles. The central plane is rectangular in shape; the greater part of it’s surface occupied by a pointed arch and domed recess in the center. The sides of the plane is marked with features like guldastas on wreathed shaft. The typical shaft may have it’s origin in Baroque architecture. The use of this twisted shaft expresses more inguity but less logic. But, above the lower mosque-like structure there lies the most interesting and striking statement of the project. The builder has placed an high octagonal structure with arches on each side and over it a Baroque style dome together with projected guldastas to replace the traditional chattris. The octagonal structure is so high that it can be identified as an individual pavilion or temple, just superimposed on a Mughal mosque. This new and exotic juxtaposition is so powerful that the monument gives an impression of almost a tower rather than a mausoleum.



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