Raja Rammohun Roy's tomb opens after facelift
Arnos Vale restoredIndia's High Commissioner Mr. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee cut a ribbon to mark the completion of the restoration work on the tomb, which is located prominently in the Arnos Vale cemetery in the southwestern English city.

The historic tomb, built in 1843 by Dwarkanath Tagore, grandfather of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, fell into disrepair before being rescued by the combined efforts of an intrepid British historian and a Singapore-based businessman.

Unveiling the tomb on Rammohun Roy's 175th death anniversary, Mr. Mukherjee described him as the man who taught India "not just to accept and tolerate, but to celebrate diversity".

"It is because of him that today India sees its incredible diversity not as an obstacle to progress, but as a great asset. Modern India celebrates diversity," said Mukherjee.

High Commissioner unveils bustThe elaborate tomb was designed by William Prinsep, a merchant from Clifton, in the authentic style of a Bengali 'chattri', but its state of utter disrepair in the 1980s and 90s disappointed the many Indians who visited it every year. The descendants of Prinsep had also contributed funds for the repair work.

The restoration was financed by Aditya K. Poddar, a Singapore-based Bengali businessman, after being approached by Kolkata mayor Bikash Bhattacharya, who saw the state of the tomb in 2006.

Arnos Vale trustee and local historian Carla Contractor, who campaigned for the restoration, said: "The Rajah is rightly called the Founder of Modern India and he is still regarded as a tremendously important figure in India today. The annual ceremony at the Rajah's tomb is always moving, but this year's event is particularly special."

Asembled guestsMore than 150 people attended Sunday's ceremony - which was pan-religious in keeping with Rammohun Roy's liberal beliefs.

The last time when repair and restoration work was done on the tomb was in 1883, according to the archives in the University of Calcutta, when minor restoration was done.

The work undertaken with the expertise of a conservation architect included re-carving the pillars, repairing the leaked roof, consolidating its foundation (it is based on a slope) and repairing cracks in its foundation stone.

Rev. FeargusRestorers, working with "ancient photographs", replaced wrought iron rods holding the tomb together with stainless steel ones, carried out extensive stonework and reconstructed the joints, said Richard Smith, the chairman of the Arnos Vale Trust. Mr. Smith added that "There's been quite a lot of redesigning to bring out the original features and all traces of paintwork have been removed, so that the tomb is now in its original stone finish. We are all quite proud of the fact that he is actually here. We do get an awful lot of visitors from India. When they come visiting England, they take the time out to come to Bristol. There's also a statue of him in the centre of Bristol city."

Mayor of Bristol & Carla with High CommissionerGuests at the unveiling included the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Chris David, members of the Unitarian Church from both Bristol and London, Brahmo Samaj members, Indian-origin councillors and other prominent representatives of the Indian community in Britain. Lord Mayor of Bristol said the city has always paid respect to him and termed the tomb as a symbol of British-Indian unity. For the last 75 years, the Lord Mayor represented the city at the annual commemoration at the tomb.

Carla ContractorFrom various earlier records we can see that the efforts to repair the tomb started way back in 1969. The Indian High Commission in London and the London Brahmo Samaj had made several attempts in restoring the London Brahmo Samaj sings in mausoleum to its former glory. In 1990 the London Brahmo Samaj collected £ 3000 and gave it to the Indian High Commission in London urging them to take up steps in restoring the mausoleum. However the cherished dreams of many Brahmos have been fuilfiled. The Indians in Britian congratulate Carla Contractor - the British born historian who made the restoration of the tomb her personal mission. The members of the Brahmo Samaj group performed three traditional Tagore songs.