The drive to Pulicat took two hours, going to Xavier Benedict’s AARDE Pulicat Museum close to the Dutch Cemetery. From the Fort Geldria there is not even the sign board anymore. Xavier told me that like in Sadraspatnam excavations on Fort Geldria took place. But the owner of the land, the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Departement opposed the central Archeological Survey of India on this. Now you only see a big bush.
Xavier’s passion is the large waterbody in this lagoon area that he is trying to preserve through his foundation. He is linking it with people and culture, including the European heritage. He is an architect, teaching part time at a college near Madras.
The cemetery is impressive with again many stories to be told from the tombstone here. They are well protected and preserved. Although the red stones of the two-stories high monument are starting to crumble. Especially the gate is very spectacular, as you can see from the film clip I made. I never forget the first time I was here in 1989 when all the tombes had been whitewashed totally. It hurted my eyes.
Just my good fortune! On the day I document the Dutch-Indian heritage in Pulicat the Hindu MetroPlus carries an article headlined: When the wind steers, by Shonali Muthalaly. “The Dutch cemetery has a startling macaber beauty. Its tombs rise, as we drive down a dusty street in Pulicat, bustling with bicycles and goats. Skeletons painstakingly carved into stone, stand guard at the gates, welcoming visitors ….”