Did you know that Singapore has had over 21 cemeteries in the past? However, Singapore only has 3 active cemeteries now. The Lim Chu Kang cemetery, Pusara Aman Cemetery and Pusara Abadi Cemetery.
Due to the land scarcity that we face, graves had to be exhumed and cemeteries were cleared to make way for urban development. Today, many buildings stand atop old burial sites.
From HDBs to shopping malls, we’ve compiled a list of the places that were once cemeteries.
A Land With A Past
1. Fort Canning
Before it was Fort Canning, it was known as Bukit Larangan, which means “Forbidden Hill” in Malay. Built on it was an early Christian cemetery that was established there in 1822, and closed in 1865.
Following the closure of the Bukit Larangan Cemetery, the Fort Canning Cemetery was established.
The cemeteries may have come and gone, but Fort Canning still stands today and some structures from the cemeteries are still around. Fort Canning is quiet and scenic in the day but we’re not staying there after nightfall.
2. Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Did you know that Dhoby Ghaut MRT station sits on top of an old Jewish cemetery? The cemetery was recorded to be established sometime between 1838 and 1841 but was repossessed in 1983 for development.
What’s more, Dhoby Ghaut MRT is the fourth deepest MRT station, after Bras Basah, Promenade, and Bencoolen. Can you believe that you’re walking in the space below an old cemetery?
Also, do you remember that doll that was found in the tunnel at Dhoby Ghaut station?
The doll was subsequently removed by SMRT staff. But it is still creepy.
3. Novena MRT Station
There was another Jewish cemetery that was recorded to be located just north of Moulmein road, adjacent to Thomson Road and Newton Road. It was established just before the First World War.
However in 1985, the cemetery was closed and the area was reclaimed for the development of a then-new MRT station.
If you look at the map, the only MRT station there is Novena MRT station.
4. Ngee Ann City
The site where Ngee Ann City is standing on, used to be a Teochew Cemetery called ‘Tie Swah Ting’. It was established by the Ngee Ann Kongsi, a Chinese Teochew charitable association in 1845.
The cemetery spanned 72 acres of land and housed 25,000 to 30,000 graves. However, in 1957, the cemetery was cleared and some of the land was acquired by the government.
A 10-storey Ngee Ann building was built on the land, though it was demolished in 1985. Today, the Ngee Ann City Shopping Complex and Civic Plaza can be found at this old burial site.
Even though it has been disproved by Ngee Ann City’s architect, there is still a rumour going around in Singapore that the complex was designed to look like a Chinese tombstone.
Do you see that the flagpoles resemble joss sticks and the fountain in the civic plaza resembles wine offerings?
5. Caldecott Broadcast Centre
Caldecott Hill used to house a Chinese cemetery. The land was purchased to be used as a burial ground for Chinese people. However, the cemetery was closed to build a mansion.
Oddly enough, a fire broke out and razed the mansion to the ground, killing the whole family. The old Mediacorp Caldecott Broadcast Centre used to be situated on the hill.
It’s no coincidence that celebrities have come forward with stories of their own spine-chilling experiences at the old Caldecott Broadcast Centre.
6. Woodleigh MRT Station
The Bidadari Cemetery used to house Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Sinhalese graves. It was subsequently closed and all graves were exhumed between 2001 to 2004.
Today, Woodleigh MRT station sits on part of the old cemetery and HDB has commenced work on turning the area into a housing estate with HDB flats and private houses that will be complete by 2018.
Before Bishan became Bishan, it was a World War 2 battle site and subsequently a Chinese cemetery known as the Kampong San Teng cemetery.
The Chinese cemetery was eventually closed to make way for HDB estates and the kampong was renamed from San Teng to what we now know as, Bishan.
8. Bukit Brown
Did you know that Bukit Brown has an MRT station?
Yes, you read that right. Bukit Brown MRT station. If you’re squinting at your phone trying to spot Bukit Brown MRT station on the SMRT map, you won’t find it.
Bukit Brown MRT station is located somewhere between Caldecott station and Botanic Gardens station.
It is currently not in operation as the ‘station’ is located at an empty plot of land that’s smack dab in the middle of the Bukit Brown cemetery and the Chinese cemetery at Mt. Pleasant.
However, the government has announced plans to build a 4-lane road which will cut through Bukit Brown cemetery and the rest of the cemetery will be cleared to make way for new public housing town in 40 year’s time.
Singapore is a small country and eventually all cemeteries will have to make way for housing development. Would you live in an estate built over an old cemetery?
(Header Image Source: Flickr User Nicolas Lannuzel)