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HISTORY form "The Bangalore Parsis"



The Aramgah


The Parsees of Bangalore felt the need for a burial ground to bury the body of Mr. Cama.  Hence, Dr. Bhabha and Dr. Choksey met the then Dewan of Mysore, the worthy personality Sir Sheshadri Iyer and requested him to give a piece of land for Parsee burial.  The Dewan knew Mr. Cama so he gave an urgent order to the Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore to give a small piece of land for the burial and so the Aramgah land was given to the Parsee community. It was 16½ guntas at Kayam Guttahalli Village. This place was about 2 miles away from Queen’s Road (rather remote at that time) without any proper approach road.  Mr. Cama’s was the first body to be laid to rest at the Aramgah. 


For the maintenance of this 16½ guntas plot of land Mrs. Shirinbai Cama (wife of Mancherji Cama) gave Rs. 1,500/- (by way of a Bombay Port Trust Bond).  She also gave some money to build the compound wall.  The amount was not altogether sufficient to maintain the plot so, in 1896 a book of accounts was started to collect monthly subscriptions from the families who started coming to Bangalore. The above plot of land measuring about 16½ guntas was very small so the Parsees of that time purchased two more acres of land to enclose the cemetery on the South and North of the original plot at a cost of about Rs. 330-0-0. With this purchase, the property then measured two and a half acres. 


The Parsees were chiefly residing in the Cantonment area.  A gentleman by the name of Cursetji Anklesaria, with the help of his friends, purchased a one-horse hearse that he presented to the Parsees.  The approach road too was repaired.  In 1910, Dr. Hormusji Bhabha retired from Mysore Government Service and left for Bombay after handing over charge to other Parsees who had settled in Bangalore, namely Mr. B. P. Doctor and  Dr. D. K. Darashaw, who were then managing this property.


At the start of the 20th Century, (about 1900) the Parsees got together and thought of forming an Anjuman.  At first about 15 to 20 families got together and started contributing money to run their Anjuman.  The monthly fee was 8 annas (50 paise), but some families were not in a position to afford this so they contributed just 4 annas (25 paise). Between 1900 and 1920, the Parsee population rose to 100.  As the saying goes ― when more Parsees get together argument and in-fighting abounds.


In 1920 a great man of the Adenwalla family, Sir Hormusji Adenwalla, visited Bangalore and purchased a property on Cunningham Crescent, an old bungalow with a large compound admeasuring 2 acres.  The Parsee sethias (sirs) of those days believed that real wealth lay in possessing lands.  It appears that Sir Hormusji Adenwalla was in possession of 3000 acres of land around Bangalore, in those days they used to say he owned three “Gamdas” (Villages).


In 1928, one Irani family visited Bangalore.  The gentleman Mr. Gustasp Khodadad Irani was the son of the great, well-known sethia of Mumbai after whom Khodadad Circle in Dadar is named.  He came to admit his son Behman to the St. Joseph’s English School as a boarder.  Unfortunately, Behman expired very young and was buried in the cemetery.  Mr. Gustasp Irani of Bombay used to visit Bangalore every year to mark the anniversary of his son. On one such visit, Panthaki Pestonji Unvalla approached him with a request to build a compound wall around the Aramgah along with a gate.  The structures still stand today as does the inscription on the tablet alongside. In 1932 this cost Rs. 1,300/-.


Between 1910 and 1920, many Parsees came to settle in Bangalore including Mr. Pirojshaw Variava and Mr. Kaikhushru Belgaumwalla.  The Parsee population was steadily increasing in Bangalore.  At this time, Seth Nusserwanji Mirza who had come to settle in Bangalore was entrusted with making the first Trust Deed for the Aramgah property.  This was formalized on 6th August 1922 by calling a meeting at the residence of Mr. K. D. Belgaumwalla.  Soon thereafter the Trust Deed was registered.


It appears that the Parsee population was about 125 persons by that time.  Mr. K. D. Belgaumwalla thought of establishing an Agiary but he did not survive and the old Trustees, Mr. B. P. Doctor and Dr. D. K. Darashaw resigned.  Now Mr. N. F. Mirza, Mr. H. F. Marker, Mr. F. F. Dhalla and Mr. Merwanji Manekjee were appointed as the new Trustees.


The Parsees felt the need for a Prayer Hall, as the Agiary was not in existence then.   The Parsees having no place of worship now set up a small building as a prayer hall in the south portion of the burial ground with the money given by Mrs. Pirojbai Choksey whose family came to settle in Bangalore in the 1930s. This was a memorial for her husband Fakirji and daughter Aimai Balsara.   Mr. M. Manekjee was approached by Mrs. Pirojbai F. China to build a small Prayer Hall on the plot purchased by the Anjuman, adjacent to the burial ground, measuring about 25 feet by 15 feet, with verandahs on two sides.  This small building was built with the sum of Rs. 3,500 that was offered by the donors whose photos are hung there in tribute.