Bukit Brown Cemetery

6/21/11

Although talks of eventually developing Bukit Brown Cemetery into housing and other buildings for the living have been ongoing for quite some time, it seems as though an urgency to visit this peaceful place has come about in recent weeks. I visited the cemetery a few weeks ago and was taken aback by hill after hill of beautiful tombs and graves. Some appeared to be visited and cleaned regularly, but many were in various stages of neglect.
 Some graves have images of those who have been laid to rest.
Officially opened on New Year's Day in 1922, Bukit Brown Cemetery was the final resting place for many members of the Chinese community in Singapore. The cemetery is an expansive and verdant space covering an area of about 213 acres. When the cemetery closed in 1973, it contained approximately 100,000 tombs. The oldest grave in Bukit Brown Cemetery dates back to 1833 (source).
Guarding a tomb.
A damaged tomb, covered in overgrowth.

It is not just a place for the dead to rest; the living make good use of the beautiful cemetery as well. Bukit Brown Cemetery is a quiet place perfect for clearing your head and heart. The roads winding through the cemetery are ideal for runners or for those wishing to take a relaxing stroll. Because the trees form such a dense canopy in some parts of the cemetery, the temperature feels much cooler than if you were on a normal city street. And if you love to bird-watch, bring your binoculars. It is home to some of the most beautiful birds I've ever seen.
A marker in the ground, possibly a plot or row number?
 The gate to the cemetery remains open...for now.

Singapore is developing at breakneck speed, moving forward in every area possible with the potential for growth. And although progress and looking towards the future are important things for a country, I can't help but wonder if enough people here are concerned with the country's past. 

According to this page, 21 cemeteries have been closed and more than 120,000 tombs and graves have been exhumed since 1985. There are lots of other things besides dead people in a cemetery. Cemeteries like Bukit Brown are homes to all types of wild flora and fauna. They are places for people to walk, exercise, relax and of course, to connect with their past. Cemeteries are places of history and importance, reminders of what once was. It's a shame that Bukit Brown Cemetery won't be around for much longer. After all, in order to know where you're going, you need to know where you came from.

PS read my friend Kirsten's great post about her family's connection to Bukit Brown Cemetery here



View Larger Map
In case you're interested in visiting, here's a map. You can get here by taking any of these buses: 
527493157165852855. 

15 comments:

  1. such great pictures!! when i lived in singapore, we lived really closed to this cemetery, on kheam hock road! so great to see it in your pictures!! greetings to singapore!! :)

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  2. Awesome photos!

    Where is this cemetery? I would love to go and see it.

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  3. i've only been to bukit brown in the middle of the night, when i was on a ghost tour organised by API! Thankfully we were in a large group so there wasn't a cause of supernatural encounters! anyway, with the recent news about its impending excavation, im definitely hoping to visit it sometime soon! u might also like to check out the japanese cemetery in singapore!

    orangefoamfinger - it's located opposite macritchie reservoir, towards bukit timah road.

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  4. @Kristina thank you!

    @orangefoamfinger I just entered "Bukit Brown Cemetery" into Google Maps and found which buses to take. I've added a map to the post for you; click on the "View Larger Map" link below it and enter your starting address.

    @steph I've been wanting to take an API tour for a while now. And yes, I hope to visit the Japanese Cemetery too.

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  5. I really should visit again – we couldn't stay long the last time because my granddad was with us and couldn't walk too far. I want to explore the place more and take more photos before it's all gone. And of course, this time I will remember the mosquito repellant.

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  6. @Kirsten I will probably visit again soon as well. I am sure I only saw a fraction of the cemetery.

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  7. yeah i agree, doesnt seem like people care too much about preserving their history :o( and thats a lot of bodies to exhume and relocate too. i imagine some would be left behind then you got poltergeist movie stuff going on in the new housing, eek. i vote leave it alone. start a huelga fren!

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  8. Hi there ... thanks for visiting my blog. You have lovely travel blog. I love your photos of the cemetery. I shot in a cemetery few times when I was in the Philippines. Have not got a chance to shoot at Bukit Brown. Congrats too on being a finalist in the SG Blog Awards. :) All the best!

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  9. For a piece of Christian history, visit the cemetery @St Joseph Church opposite Bukit Gombak and next to Chestnut Drive. behind the church is a small Christian cemetery older than the Biadari Christian Cemetery.

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  10. Thanks Peter! I will try to check it out.

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  11. Wow... it must have been an interesting walk around the cemetery. I recently took a walk around Kampong Glam and there is an old Malay cemetery around Jalan Kubor.

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  12. I went here for a visit a couple of weeks ago, it is without doubt the most desolate place I've been to in Singapore. I never knew somewhere so empty of people existed here - fascinating!

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  13. Thank you for this post. I particularly like the way you have captured Bukit Brown through your lenses.

    I hope you won't mind if I put a link to your post on my post on Bukit Brown to direct readers to read this post too? If you do, let me know, and I shall remove the link upon hearing from you.

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  14. @oceanskies79: I don't mind at all. Thank you!

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