Within the campus of Savitribai Phule Pune University (formerly the University of Pune) is a beautiful garden. It is a quiet, tranquil green place where students are often seen studying under the canopy of the large trees, peacefully, amongst the chirping of birds and rustling of leaves. This place goes by the name Alice Garden.
There lies, within the premises, of this garden, a lone grave from the 19th century. The grave is in a slightly secluded corner and the area around it is marked with stones blocks kept neatly, forming a perimeter around it. The grave belongs to a woman called Alice Richman. On one side of the grave, are written the words: “Sacred to the memory of the much loved.”
On the other are the details of Alice Richman’s birth and death, as follows: “Born at Melrose South Australia 13th November 1856. Died here of cholera 14th January 1882. R.I.P.”
According to sources and recent research, Alice Richman was the niece of Sir James Fergusson, who was the then Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai) from 1880 to 1885. She lived at the Governor’s House which was later established as the university. Alice was visiting Fergusson and his wife, but she died of cholera. Fergusson’s wife, Olive, too was afflicted by the same disease and died in Mumbai where she was shifted for treatment.
In local lore, there are anecdotes that attribute Alice’s death to suicide, due to an unrequited love affair with a local boy. Some claim that her ghost wanders around the corridors of the university at night in white robes and a candle in hand.
During the daytime, the garden is open to everyone. One often finds curious people visiting the grave out of fascination. Due to the tranquility around the place, many often come here to study and read. The peace in the garden honors the final resting place of Alice Richman.
Know Before You Go
The grave is located inside Alice Garden which is within the premises of the university. The garden is quite close to the main building and is open from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. (noon) from Monday to Saturday and is closed on Sundays.