Portuguese cemetery discovered near Machilipatnam

G.V.R. Subba Rao
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A Portuguese cemetery and settlement has been discovered at Tavisipudi village, about 5 km from here.

A pillar tomb was found in the ‘casuarinas’ orchard, but has been dug up beneath for suspected hidden treasure by the locals. The tomb, however, is intact.

A few yards away from the tomb, a Portuguese habitation and warehouse remnants are also found. A part of the wall, 19 brick pillars, two giant pillar foundations (gate pillars) are seen as an evidence of a large structure presumed to be a warehouse to store commodities.

The Portuguese private traders did maritime trade from Machilipatnam Port between 1540 AD and 1636 AD. The Portuguese settlement is known as ‘Firangi Dibba’ in local parlance - the mound of ‘Firangis’- and located in survey numbers 92, 102 and 105 of Tavisapudi village, according to Md. Silar, an amateur historian.

The Portuguese used to be called as ‘Firangis’ as they introduced canons here, he observed. The features of the tomb, constructed in canonical shape on the top of a pedestal of entombment, indicate it to be that of Portuguese. Machilipatnam has three English tombs too - cemeteries of British and pre-British period- but this type of tomb was not found anywhere. It is the first tomb of Portuguese to be discovered in the region, he feels. English, French, Dutch, Armenians have cemeteries in this town, which was once a trade centre during 16{+t}{+h}century.

All the Europeans had their burial places at St. John Burial yard at Bandar Kota near here and in St. Mary’s Church at Englishpalem and Dutch Cemetery at Valandapalem.

The burial of the Portuguese are not recorded in any of these cemeteries, he explains.

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