Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, West Bengal

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, West Bengal

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Topics: West Bengal

Victoria Memorial is located in Kolkata, West Bengal and is a memorial to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom who was also the “Empress of India” for 25 years from 1876 A.D to 1901 A.D. After then end of the British rule in India, the monument was made a museum and a tourist attraction. The Memorial is situated on 64 acres of land with the building covering 338 ft by 228 ft. The Victoria Memorial is made of white marble and it is a blend of British and Mughal architecture. The Memorial was built with Makrana marbles from Rajasthan and it was built in the period 1906 A.D. to 1921 A.D. Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy of India at that time placed the question of setting up a “stately memorial” for Queen Victoria on her death in 1901 A.D. The princes and the people of India responded generously to his appeal for funds and Lord Curzon derived the total cost of construction of this monument amounting to one crore and five lakhs of rupees from their voluntary subscriptions. The Prince of Wales, King George V, laid the foundation stone on January 4, 1906 and it was formally opened to the public in 1921. The memorial was designed by Sir William Emerson, President of the British Institute of Architects in an architectural style similar to Belfast City Hall. Earlier asked to design the building in the Italian Renaissance style, Emerson was against the exclusive use of European styles and used Indo-Saracenic style, incorporating Mughal elements in the structure. Vincent Esch was the superintending architect while Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain designed the gardens. The work of construction was entrusted to Messrs Martin & Co. of Calcutta. A black bronze Angel of Victory, holding a bugle in her hand was placed at the apex of the dome above the Memorial. It is fixed to its pedestal with ball bearings and acts as a weathercock when the wind is strong enough. This Victoria Memorial presently houses a museum of British India memorabilia like a large collection of oil paintings and water colours by famous European artists like Charles D’oyly, Johann Zoffany, William Hadges, William Simpson, Tilly Kettle, Thomas Hickey, Bultzar Solvyns, Thomas Hickey, Emily Eden and others. Besides these, the Memorial also houses the largest collection in the world of the paintings by the Daniells. The Royal Gallery is a storehouse of oil paintings of Queen Victoria receiving the sacrament at her coronation in the Westminster Abbey in June 1838; her marriage with Prince Albert (1840), the christening of the Prince of Wales, the marriage of the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) with Princess Alexandra and others. The Memorial’s grandeur at a height of 200 feet (184 ft up to the base of the figure of Victory, which is again 16 ft high) is accentuated by the serenity that engulfs you in its corridors. The groups of figures above the north porch represent Motherhood, Prudence and Learning. Surrounding the main dome are figures of Art, Architecture, Justice, Charity etc. The vastness and splendour of Victoria Memorial can be comprehended from the fact that it has been divided into different divisions like the garden, library and others for maintenance and also houses a host of valuable articles like the dagger of Tipu Sultan, a cannon used in the battle of Plassey, rare books that date back to 1870, valuable manuscripts like the Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal, rare postage stamps and Western paintings to entice the visitors to this awesome monument.

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