Savitri River 1

Poladpur is a town situated at the foothills of the Sahyadri mountains, in Raigad district of Maharashtra state in India. The river Savitri originating from the hill station of Mahabaleshwar, comes down to Poladpur and then flows into the Arabian Sea at Bankot.  

On the banks of the Savitri is an old tombstone which has withstood the passage of time and the fury of floods. The inscription on the grave reads: “In memory of the Rev Donald Mitchell, first missionary of the Scottish Missionary Society in India. He left the Bombay Army of which he was a commissioned officer, to become a preacher of the gospel to the benighted inhabitants of this country, but he was removed from the chosen sphere of this work of faith within the first year of his ministerial service. He died at this village on the 20th November 1823.”

The death of Rev Donald Mitchell in Poladpur was not in vain. In 1895, my grandfather, Hari Govind Kelkar, following the commandment of Lord Jesus, set up an ashram there for leprosy patients who had been abandoned by society. Later, his work was taken over by the Leprosy Mission.

In 1954, a church was founded in Poladpur and it has just completed 60 years. On 2 November 2014, there was a special service to mark the occasion. I had the opportunity to visit Poladpur and join in the worship and also to lay flowers on Mitchell’s grave. Here are some pictures.  

The church at Poladpur:

Poladpur Church 1   Poladpur Church 2

Rev Daniel Raj conducting the worship service:

Poladpur Church 3   Poladpur Church 4

Rev Donald Mitchell’s grave:

Donald Mitchell Grave 1   Donald Mitchell Grave 2   Donald Mitchell Grave 3