There are many monuments in India which and popular among the foreign tourists than the domestic tourists, and worse the domestic tourists do no know it even exists. The Garrison Cemetery in Srirangapatna near Mysore is easily one among these gone into oblivion over time.
This sprawling cemetery is well connected with the war history of Srirangapatna. The history of this cemetry begins with the fall of Srirangapatna.
Bodies of the many European officers, both military and civil, are buried in this place. After the fall of Srirangapatna in 1799, the British East India Company made the Srirangapatna Fort into a military garrison, before setting up there permanent one at Bangalore. For the next 6 decades (till 1860) this cemetery was service.
The Battle of Seringapatam (4 May 1799) was the final confrontation between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore under Tipu Sultan.
There is an interesting Swiss connection in this battle. The assault troop (Forlorn Hope) selected to storm first was de Meuron Regiment, originally a Swiss regiment known after its commander, Comte Charles-Daniel de Meuron.
Before coming to India this regiment was stationed in Srilanka (then Ceylon) under the Dutch East India Company, which was dominating in that island nation. They even took part fights against the British East India Company forces in Ceylon. The de Meuron Regiment (in fact a mercenary regiment) later went bankrupt.
During the 1780s and 90s the British forces were facing stiff resistence from two points, the Maratas and Mysore kingdom. The British wanted more forces on their side and the de Meuron Regiment wanted money to pay salary to the 800 odd men. It suited both. In in 1795 a discreet agreement was struck between the erstwhile foes. About 80 of the de Meuron Regiment men killed in the final assault on the Srirangapatna fort in the 1799 siege. Many of them are buried here, that later came to be known as the Garrison Cemetery.
The de Meuron Regiment was later absorbed into the regular British forces, still with a distinct identity.
The descendants of the de Meuron family has come forward to restore this otherwise dilapidated landmark of history. Most of the tombs are repaired with the same kind of technique used in the original masonry.
Though the Garrison Cemetery is a short walk (300 meters ) from the highway, it is a bit difficult to find the path to this location. The pathway starts opposite to the Mysore Gate (The last gateway of the fort facing the Bangalore Mysore highway towards Mysore side) on the other side of the highway. You’ll find the direction in the form of a milestone by the side of the highway. By the side of the highway (opposite to the ) you’ll find a series of steps and a pathway. This zigzags along the fringe of a coconut farm and leads to Garrison Cemetery. Every 100 meters you’ll find a milestone directing to the Garrison Cemetery. This is a lonely location, so be prudent while taking the path alone.
The gates are kept opened between 9am and 6pm.