Located along Upper Serangoon Road, Bidadari Cemetery is one of Singapore’s largest and oldest cemeteries that operated from 1908 to 1973. It housed over 147,000 graves including that of prominent community leaders like Dr Lim Boon Keng and Sir Song Ong Siang.
Bidadari is derived from the Sanskirt word widyadari or “nymph of Indra’s heaven” and first started out in 1903 when the Municipal Commissioner acquired 26 hectares of land to cater specifically for Protestant Christians and Roman Catholics. Two years later in 1905, Dato Mentri of Johore acquired an additional plot of land for Muslim graves.
This was followed up in 1925 when a land area of approximately 4 hectares was allocated for Hindu Graves.
Interestingly however, the first burials for each site only began in 1908 (Christian) ,1910 (Muslims) and 1925 (Hindus)
Located along Vernon Park, Bidadari Gardens is easily recognised by three distinctive iron grill gates that were erected in 1908 and is a designated heritage site that serves as a reminder of the history of the cemetery. It also contains the tombstones of 21 prominent individuals that were buried over the years.
Secrets & Memories of Bidadari
The area around Bidadari is also home to many well-known memories and secrets of Singapore that include the famous Gurkha Camp (of which no pictures are allowed of), the picturesque Alkaff Gardens that many a filmmaker and artist swooned over, the Masjid Alkaff Mosque as well as the Mount Vernon Crematorium that began operations from 1962-2004.
The lack of human activity since burials stopped in 1973 has allowed Bidadari to prosper naturally into a welcoming habitat for animals and humans alike. Residents in the residing neighbourhoods such as Potong Pasir would frequently jog amongst the graves, sometimes even side by side with the nearby Gurkhas in training.
Nature enthusiast have also often cited Bidadri cemetery as a unique and diverse ecosystem that supports a wide array of plants and animals alike. Bird-watching in particular seems to be a hit amongst these enthusiasts.
After making way firstly for the North-East line stations of Woodleigh and Potong Pasir, Bidadari cemetery is now slated for development of over 12,000 private and HDB homes that according to HDB will ‘retain its hilly and lush landscape, and celebrate its history and heritage while becoming a distinctive and sustainable tranquil urban oasis”.
It is anticipated that Bidadari will be the next new town like Punggol, with the highly anticipated BTO flats to be up for bidding in 2015.