Visit to Armenian Cemetery in Hyderabad

On 21st December 2015, Very Reverend Father Zaven Yazichyan, Pastor of Armenians in India and Manager of Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy, Kolkata accompanied by Mr. Armen Martirosyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenian to India along with a delegation and honorable guests  visited Hyderabad, a cosmopolitan and historical city in India to show appreciation to the Department of Archaeology and Museums that has not only spent Rs. 25 Lakh for renovation but also  have played a  key role in the ongoing efforts directed at preservation of the Armenian Cemetery at Uppuguda, a locale in the old city of Hyderabad.

After arriving in Hyderabad the delegation proceeded to the Headquarters of the Department of Archaeology and Museums situated in the Qutub Shahi tombs complex where a warm welcome was extended to them by the Director N.R. Visalatchy, IPos accompanied by senior historians and experts from the department. The delegation was extensively briefed by them on the topic of the Armenian presence in Hyderabad which dates back to the 16th century.

The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) represented by his principal advisor, Mr. P. Rao who has the portfolio of Heritage in the CMO in the presence of very senior government officials including Mr. B. Venkatesham I.A.S., Secretary to the Government of Telengana, Youth Advancement, Tourism & Culture Department as well as N.R. Visalatchy, conducted a round table discussion at the ITC Kaketiya where very constructive views and suggestions were exchanged on all three sides on the subject of reviving the Armenian connection with the city of Hyderabad and the state of Telengana within the context of 21st century. Mr. Rao again and again assured the visiting Pastor and the Ambassador that full co-operation and assistance shall be extended by the government at all times to Armenians who are keen to reconnect with their past in Hyderabad

Honoring the occasion that this was the first time after 1724 that Armenians had come to Hyderabad and out of genuine happiness, the government of Telengana deputed, very high ranking government officials from the CMO itself to escort them to Uppuguda which is a remote suburb in old Hyderabad. Covering the distance took less time since this was the case but none the less the journey was very emotional not only for the Pastor and the Ambassador but also the bureaucrats who openly expressed that they felt that as if they were a part of history in the making.

Arriving at Uppuguda and while standing outside the gates of the cemetery, the whole team was given a huge welcome by the local residents and senior journalist from both print and electronic media as well as ten photographers. The arrival itself created a huge commotion in the neighborhood where the very mention of the name Armenian brought both old and young people flocking to the Pastor to whom they personally recounted stories of Agha Hakob, Agha Karapet and Sarkies who were very famous diamond barons in Hyderabad.

Mr. M. A. Qayyam, senior historian and former Deputy Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums told the Pastor by pointing out the graves of two priests namely Reverend Johannes and Reverend Simon that in the 17th and 18th century the Armenian presence in Hyderabad was so strong that they even received a direct mention in the Pontifical encyclical from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin dated 31st December 1850 addressed to Armenians living in various cities of India.

Taking an initiative in deciphering the Armenian inscriptions appearing on all the 19 graves in the cemetery, the Pastor not only personally photographed all the graves but also the whole graveyard.

As the visit concluded, all present, repeatedly requested Father Zaven that the Armenian Community of India, Armenia and in the Diaspora should lend their full support and co-operation towards preserving this unique specimen of Armenian heritage in Hyderabad so that the history is not forgotten but remembered forever and since this visit happened in the Centennial year of the Armenian Genocide their proposal should be taken with more seriousness.

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