Haunting Singaporean cemeteries

October 6, 2011 by

Free Things To Do, Local Recommendations, Things To Do

Soldiers' tombstones near the Kranji War Memorial
- photo courtesy of Soham Banerjee via Wikimedia Commons

Of the many ways to escape the concrete jungle that is modern Singapore, a daytime skulk through one of the city’s cemeteries is one of the more intriguing.

A good place to start is the oldest Christian cemetery in the city, located on the grounds of Fort Canning at the top of Government Hill. Established in 1822, the oldest section of the cemetery houses headstones and tombs dating to 1835 (all that remains of the first graves are the sections of tombstones now embedded in the wall surrounding the newer site). Though originally reserved especially for members of the Anglican Church and other Protestants, the cemetery was eventually opened up to Catholics as well (though their respective grave sites were strictly segregated).

As part of Fort Canning History Park, the location is a good place to indulge in a bit of greenery, fresh air, and panoramic views. It is not, however, an ideal site for ghost hunting, as the bodies buried there were eventually exhumed and reburied elsewhere for sanitary reasons. But never fear, the morbidly inclined will delight in the attention paid to the profusion of corpses laid waste by disease, hearkening back to a time when Singapore was not the portrait of pristine sanitation and urban planning that is today.

Another memorial site worth visiting is the Kranji War Memorial on the west coast of the peninsula. Dedicated to soldiers who died defending the region during World War II, the site is segregated by nationality (of the memorialized, not the living). As with Fort Canning, Kranji is situated on a pleasant hillside, making it a good option for evading the skyscrapers and traffic.

- John Reality

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