Things you need to know before visiting the Victoria Memorial

The enormous marble structure, known as the Victoria Memorial, was constructed between 1906 – 1921 in Kolkata’s city center. The greatest monument in the world devoted to a royal, now a monument under the Ministry of Culture’s stewardship, is the Imperial Palace. There is a memorial on the Maidan that is one of Kolkata’s most well-known landmarks. There is much more to Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial than just a famous sight. For the city’s architectural and colonial history to be preserved, this great monument and museum must be preserved. 

 

History of Victoria Memorial

One of Kolkata’s most popular tourist attractions, this ornate marble mausoleum is surrounded by lush green meadows. Take some time out of your journey to the City of Joy, whether with your family or on your own, to explore the fascinating British Raj history that has been left behind. 

 

Interested in learning more about this Kolkata landmark? Find out all there is to know about Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Museum, from its hours and admission fees to its intriguing history and stunning architecture in this guide.He set the cornerstone on January 4, 1906, and it was officially opened on January 21, 1921 as part of a grand celebration.

 

Emperor George V proclaimed in 1912 that the capital of India would be moving from Kolkata towards New Delhi, even before the Victoria Memorial had been completed. Since this was a provincial city, rather than the capital, the Victoria Memorial has been established there.

 

A large portion of the funding for the Victoria Memorial came from British officials and Indian citizens. 1 crore, 5 lakh rupees () was raised exclusively from the contributions of India’s politicians and citizens in response to Lord Curzon’s call for funding. 

 

Curzon’s retirement from India in 1905 caused a delay in the building of the Victoria Memorial, which in turn led to a lack of local excitement for the construction and the necessity of foundation testing. When the Victoria Memorial was completed in 1921, its foundation stone was laid in 1906. Bengali firm Martin & Co. was contracted to handle the building work. 

 

In 1910, construction began on the building’s uppermost layer, known as the superstructure. The Memorial had some renovations after 1947. In the central provinces’ Hardoi District, a lesser Victoria memorial was built and is now being used as a municipal club for recreational purposes. It is a place where Mahatma Gandhi spoke to Hardoi in the 1930s.

 

Victoria Memorial : The Architecture

 

William Emerson (1843–1924) was the architect who designed the Victoria Memorial. In the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style, which incorporates a mixture of British and Mughal components as well as Venetian, Egyptian, and Deccani architectural influences, the design is executed. Approximately 338 by 228 feet (103 by 69 meters) in size, the structure rises to a height of 184 feet (56 m). It is made of white Makrana marble and has a rounded shape.

 

Lord Redesdale & David Prain were responsible for the design of the Victoria Memorial’s gardens. The bridge on the north side of the house and the garden gates were created by Emerson’s helper, Vincent Jerome Esch. Emerson commissioned Esch to draft his original concept for such a Victoria Memorial in 1902, and Esch completed the work. 

 

The Victoria Memorial is designed in the Indo-Saracenic revivalist architectural style, which incorporates Mughal and British characteristics, as well as Egyptian, Islamic, Venetian, and Deccani components. With dimensions of 103 meters by 69 meters, and a maximum height of 56 meters, this magnificent white Makrana marble structure towers above the surrounding landscape.

 

The Taj Mahal serves as a design inspiration for the Victoria Memorial’s architectural style. It consists of a great main dome, three small domes, towering entrances, octagonal-shaped domed chattris, domed towers just at corners, and a terrace. 

 

The central dome is topped either by Angel of Victory, the 16-foot-tall figure that stands upon top of the structure. Around the central dome, there are various allegorical sculptures depicting themes such as compassion, justice, art, and architecture, among others. The allegorical sculpture of Temperance, Motherhood, and Learning can be found on the North Porch.

 

The statue of the Angel of Victory, standing 16 feet (4.9 meters) tall, adorns the top of the Victoria Memorial’s central dome. Around the dome are metamorphic sculptures depicting subjects such as art, construction, justice, and charity, while the sculptures over the North Porch depict subjects such as motherhood, wisdom, and learning. 

 

The Victoria Memorial consists of white Makrana marble, which was quarried in India. With its dome, four subsidiary structures, octagonal-domed chattris, towering gateways, terrace, & domed corner towers, it is reminiscent of the Taj Mahal in terms of architecture.

 

Why to visit the Museum

There are 25 galleries in total at the Victoria Memorial building. The royal museum, the national leader’s curator, its portrait gallery, the central hall, its sculpture gallery, its arms and armory gallery, and the modern Kolkata gallery are among the many attractions in the city. This museum houses the world’s biggest collection of works by Thomas Daniell (1749-1840) including his cousin, William Daniell (1769–1837), which is housed in the Victoria Memorial building. 

A collection of rare and antiquated books, including the printed works of Shakespeare, this same Arabian Nights, and the Rubaiyat from Omar Khayyam, as well as publications on kathak dance & thumri melody from Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, is also housed in the museum. In contrast to the purely architecture or voids, the memorial’s galleries and displays, as well as its programmatic aspects, do not conflict with them.

 

Don’t miss the Victoria Gallery

 

Portraits by Empress Victoria as well as Prince Albert by Jansen & Winterhalter are on display in the Victoria Gallery. Copies of originals in London are used for the oil paintings. This includes Victoria’s Coronation (1838), her Marriage (1840) in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace, the Baptism of Prince Charles (1842), the Wedding of Edward VII and Princess Alexandra (1863), and Victoria’s Jubilees (1887) in Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Windsor Castle (June 1897). 

 

In the center of the room is the rosewood piano that belonged to Empress Victoria when she was a kid, as well as her Windsor Castle communication desk. These artifacts were donated towards the Victoria Memorial by Edward VII. The Russian painter Vasily Vereshchagin’s painting representing Edward VII’s state entry into Jaipur in 1876 hangs on the south wall.

 

The Kolkata gallery

Saiyid Nurul Hussain, the councilor for education, championed the idea of establishing a new photo album devoted towards looking at a screen of Kolkata in the mid-1970s. The gallery eventually opened in the late 1980s. When Hasan was appointed governor for West Bengal in 1986, he also became chairman of both the Victoria Memorial Foundation’s board of trustees. He sponsored an international symposium on historical views for the tercentenary of Kolkata in November 1988, which was attended by over 200 people. 

 

The concept for the Kolkata gallery was decided upon, and a design was created, which culminated in the gallery’s opening in 1992. It houses a visual representation of the history and the development of Kolkata since it was deposed as the capital of India and moved to New Delhi in 1857. A life-size diorama on Chitpur Road from the late 1800s is also on display in the gallery.

 

Victoria Memorial of Today

 

Today, this old structure serves as one of the city’s most popular museums. The memorial contains 25 galleries, such as the Calcutta Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, the Royal Gallery, the Sculpture Gallery, as well as the Nation Leaders Gallery, to name a few. There are about 28,000 objects on display in the Victoria Memorial Museum, which includes weaponry and armour as well as sculptures as well as antiquarian books, paintings, and other works of art, among others.

 

Besides being a beautiful structure, the broad green grounds around the memorial make for a pleasant area to relax and take early morning hikes in Kolkata. It is around 57 acres in size and contains statues depicting Queen Victoria, Lord Cornwallis, Lord Wellesley, & Rajendra Nath Mookherjee, along with other notable individuals. Accordingly, the Ministry of Education has taken over management and supervision of the property.

 

Major Exhibits include Indian paintings besides Thomas Daniell as well as William Daniell, unique books such as Rubaiyat besides Omar Khayyam & illustrated works by Shakespeare, this same hand-written Holy qur’an of Emperor Aurangzeb, Temple paintings, Tipu Sultan’s personal war diary, and other items of historical significance.

 

Victoria Memorial Light & Sound Show

 

In the nights, the memorial is transformed into the setting for one of India’s most mesmerizing light and sound performances. A wonderful trip through Kolkata’s heritage and history is presented through the Victoria Memorial’s light and sound show. On the big screen, it brings to life the many former glories of the city, which is appropriately titled Pride & Glory- a Story of Calcutta.

 

45 minutes in total.

 

  • From October to February, the Bengali Show is held from 6.15pm to 7pm; from 6.45pm to 7.30pm in March and April (March to June)
  • Showtimes for the English Show are 7.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. (October to February) and 7.45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (March to September) (March to June)
  • Mondays, national holidays, and the months of July and September are excepted from this policy.

 

Admission is charged on a per-person basis.

  • 10 rupees per person for a Bengali Show
  • 20 per person for an English show.

 

Roam in the gardens

The grounds of the Victoria Memorial comprise 64 acres (260,000 m2) or are cared for by a staff of 21 gardeners who are dedicated to their work. Redesdale & David Prain collaborated on the design of the pieces. A bronze sculpture of the Queen, by George Frampton, stands on Esch’s bridge, amid narrative tablets by Goscombe John. 

 

Empress Victoria is enthroned on her throne in her palace. Other sculptures honor Lord Hastings, Lord Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, Lord Robert Clive, Lord Arthur Wellesley, & Lord James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, who may be found in the paved quadrangles and elsewhere about the castle. 

 

The Edward VII monument arch is located to the south of Victoria Memorial building. A bronze equestrian monument of Edward VII through Bertram Mackennal as well as a marble monument of Curzon through F. W. Pomeroy can be found beneath the arch. 

 

The garden also contains sculptures of Lord Bentinck, gov. of India from 1833 to 1835, George Robinson, 1st Marquess , Lord Ripon, governor-general of India from 1880 to 1884, and Rajendra Nath Mookerjee, the pioneer businessman from Bengal. 

 

Following a decision of a West Bengal High Court around 2004, the entry fee was enforced for the plants, a decision that was generally supported by the general population, with the exception of a few voices of criticism.

 

Unknown Facts that you didn’t know –

 

The site had housed the Imperial Presidency Jail until it was transformed into a memorial. To create room for the memorial, the jail was relocated to Alipore and dismantled.

Several thousand dollars from the Indians were used to build the memorial. There was an outpouring of support for Lord Curzon after he made a public plea. There was just a portion of the construction expense that was paid for by the British.

 

During World War II, the Victoria Memorial had been painted black. This was done in order to disguise the structure and keep it safe from Japanese air raid strikes. A visit to the magnificent Victoria Memorial Kolkata, the former capital of the British Raj, can not be missed if you ever discover yourself in the city.

 

The Queen’s Way edifice, a sparkling white structure, was created to commemorate the legacy of Queen Victoria. There, she ruled as Queen of Great Britain and over India. Despite the traffic & honking of horns along Chowringhee Road, the hectares of gardens here provide a tranquil respite. 

 

As one of Kolkata’s most popular tourist attractions, you can’t miss it. However, its structure is also shrouded in a slew of fascinating facts and enigmas.

 

  • After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the construction of the Victoria Memorial began.

 

Queen Victoria was indeed the Empress of the British Empire, which ruled over the sub-Indian continent from 1858 to 1947, and Calcutta was its capital city. An emergency meeting in Kolkata was convened by Lord Curzon in 1901 after the death of his wife. 

 

During that period, he served as Viceroy of India. He suggested that a massive garden be built in her memory as a museum. He intended it to be so spectacular that it would serve as a memento for future generations of travelers to Kolkata, who would see it and be reminded of her.

 

He accomplished what he set out to do. Every year, tens of thousands of people come to visit this magnificent colonial structure. The inscription “VRI” can be seen near the gardens’ gate if you look closely.

 

When we heard that this was a “strange” text, we had a good laugh. Victoria Regina Imperatrix, or Queen Victoria Emperor, is the Latin translation of the Latin phrase. Post boxes as well as palaces all around the United Kingdom display this. 

 

What does the letter “ER” stand for? It is Elizabeth Regina (Queen Elizabeth). Aside from that, you can see the British monarch’s French motto, “Dieu Et Mon Droit.” You may find it on British passports, as well as on the coat of arms of the royal family.

 

  • The foundation stone was set by King George V in 1906.

 

However, despite the fact that the meeting took place in 1901, the memorial’s initial foundation stone was set under King George V in 1906. He was still known also as Prince of Wales at the time, and he did not become Emperor before his father, Edward VII, passed away in 1910.

 

The Emperor George V was outraged by the racial prejudice practised by the British against Indians during his grand trip of India, according to another fact about him. As a result, he advocated for greater participation of Indian people in politics as well as the administration of the country. While he was King in 1911, he also oversaw the relocation of the Indian capital from Kolkata to Delhi!

 

  • Construction on the Victoria memorial didn’t begin until 1921, over two decades after her death.

 

It wasn’t until 1921 that the Queen Victoria Memorial was officially dedicated to the public. Although she died in 1901 as well as the foundation was laid through 1906, the memorial wasn’t officially dedicated to the public until 20 years after her death.

 

Sir William Emerson, the President of such Royal Institute of British Architects, designed the building which took 11 years to complete and was officially opened in 1910. Building the building, which cost thousands many hours of intense effort, was finished by the Kolkata-based firm Martin & Co. To carve all of the statues and sculpt the details into marble, as well as to design the interiors. Sir Thomas Acquinas Martin & Sir Rajen Mookerjee, both of Kolkata, formed the partnership known as Martin & Co.. After it was completed, Rajen Mookerjee was awarded a knighthood!

 

  • It used to be the building of said Presidency Jail first before memorial was built here!

 

I was shocked to learn that this property was formerly used as the Presidency Jail even before Victoria Memorial was built here, which was the most stunning of all the astounding things I discovered. Her Majesty’s pleasure was served as a prison for political dissidents of the British Raj in this facility.

 

In addition to Sri Aurobindo, the philosopher, & Subhas Chandra Bose, the nationalist leader of India, among the most prominent convicts detained inside the Presidency Jail : He was honored by having Kolkata International Airport named in his honor. As soon as preparations for the construction were finalized, the jail was relocated to Alipore, where it is now known also as Old Alipore Jail.

 

  • White Makrana marble was used throughout, and the design was influenced by the Taj Mahal’s white dome.

 

This structure might easily be mistaken for the Taj Mahal if you only took a brief glance at it. It was Mughal architecture that provided the idea again for Indo-Saracenic Rivalist and Indo-Gothic design, which was then combined with British components to create this style.

 

It also takes inspiration from Egyptian, Islamic, Venetian, & Deccani architectural styles, which will appeal to architecture enthusiasts. All of the carvings were done in Makrana marble, which is the same material used to construct the Taj Mahal in Agra. Martens & Co. established specific quarries in the Rajasthani town of Makrana in order to mine the marble!

 

There are four lesser domes surrounding the major dome, which makes it a massive structure at over 56 meters tall. The corners are additionally adorned with domed octagonal chatris, tall entrances, and domed towers. There is also a huge terrace at the back of the building.

  • Charitable donations from Indian royalty provided the funds for this project.

 

It may come as a surprise to learn that perhaps the British Raj had not spent a lot of money on this structure! Which seemed a little unjust, considering that it was the idea to have this constructed in the first instance.

 

Lord Curzon issued a public call for voluntary contributions, and the entire country responded handsomely. Indian royal families & affluent politicians from all around the country delved deep into their pockets to contribute rupees for the construction of the structure’s foundation. The British government did, however, provide a tiny sum to the memorial’s erection, which was overseen by a government official.

 

The construction of the Victoria Memorial ultimately cost one crore and five lakh rupees. Alternatively, £162,377.25 in British pounds sterling. However, in the early 1900s, one pound was worth £122 today. The building really ended up costing more than £19 million in today’s money because of natural inflation!

 

  • When the wind blows, the spinning “Angel of Victory” rotates!

 

A 16-foot-tall angel can be found on the roof of the highest dome, if you look up at it. The Angel of Victory, also known as the Victoria Memorial Angel, is a statue at the Victoria Memorial Gardens in Victoria, Australia. Nike, the old Greek Goddess of Victory, serves as the inspiration for this piece. Lindsay Clarke created it in England, and George Mancini cast it in bronze to create this work of art for the public.

 

Later, it was transported all the way across Cheltenham of England to India by ship in the year 1920. In its current position, the Angel, which weighs more than three and a half tonnes, is perched above the memorial structure. I’m not sure how it works, however the angel appears to be moving or ‘flying’ with the breeze.

 

Many more symbolic statues were sculpted during the construction of both the Victoria Memorial, which may be found all around the central dome. Charity, art, morality, prudence, learning, motherhood, and architecture are just a few of the virtues that are celebrated. Furthermore, when British administration in India came to an end in 1947, its city of Kolkata relocated many colonial sculptures that were scattered throughout the city and placed them in its botanical gardens.

  • Aside from the memorial, there really are 58 acres of farmland to enjoy in the area.

 

It was Lord Redesdale & David Prain who built the planned gardens that surround the memorial, which total 57 acres. I enjoyed this area a lot more than the memorial itself, and you could easily spend hours just walking around it. The park was really well maintained and tidy, and it was also extremely safe because you had to pay to enter it. It gave me the impression that I could relax & read books without being bothered, and it was also a beautiful location to shoot the memorial.

 

The reflection lagoon, in which you can come and relax in a perfectly clear mirrored view, was the highlight of the trip for me, and I recommend it to everyone. The monument of Queen Victoria dressed in the robes of the Glory of India, with King Edward Memorial Arch, which contains statues of Edward VII & Lord Curzon, the reflections lagoon, and the Esch’s bridge are among the attractions of the gardens on the interior. Plan to spend at least a few hours here, taking use of the expansive walking routes and gardens that are available.

 

  • The Victoria Memorial Gallery, which contains approximately 30,000 items, is located on the second floor.

 

If you’ve been looking forward to seeing what’s on the interior of the Memorial Gallery, you’re in for a surprise. 30,000 objects are housed within the museum’s 26 galleries, which you can view at your leisure. A lot of paintings of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert can be found in the Royal Gallery. Also included are several chapters from her life, such as her coronation ceremony.

 

Her family members, like as Edward VII and Princess Alexandra, as well as their son George V, are depicted in paintings on display. Weapons, an armoury, stamp collection, currencies, textiles, and Queen Victoria’s personal writing desk may all be found on the second floor of the building.

 

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and rare Shakespearean versions are among the items you’ll find in this collection. It was first displayed in the 1970s, but the Calcutta gallery has a pictorial history of the city.

 

  • During World War II, this Victoria Memorial was completely painted black.

 

Something that is difficult to understand is that the entire Victoria Memorial has been painted black all through Wwii in 1943, which occurred during the height of the conflict. Because they were concerned that some photographs of monuments would get into the clutches of Japanese spies, the British government effectively banned all photography of monuments.

 

Buildings around Europe were camouflaged during World War II to avoid being targets of Japanese air attack bombs, just like the Battle in the United Kingdom was done in this country. Being such a large and prominent white structure as seen for kilometers around, as well as from the skies, they colored it black so that it would be difficult to target.

 

  • A light and sound extravaganza takes place here every night.

 

There is a sound and light spectacle just at Victoria Memorial every night. Unfortunately, because it was Durga Puja, a Hindu festival. In addition to the Goddess Kali parades, there was no shortage of entertainment. 

 

At first, the sound and light show is in Bengali, and then it switches over to English. In the night sky, you can watch the tower light up in a variety of colors and patterns while the music plays. With the fountains illuminated, you’ll be able to see the water move as well.

 

The Heart of the City of Joy

 

The Victoria Memorial brilliantly captures the colonial feel of charming Kolkata. This edifice is a must-see site in the city and provides a glimpse into the town’s rich history and heritage through its architecture and illumination. A grand structure was sculpted out of sparkling white marble, replete with strong, lofty pillars and huge, open spaces. The great history of the land on which it was built can be seen in every detail of this building. The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is a stunning landmark that visitors to the city should not miss. The edifice is based on the Taj Mahal’s architectural style and is an awe-inspiring sight.

 

The metropolis of Kolkata served as the British Empire’s capital for a while. Kolkata is home to much of India’s imperial beauty. This one, the Victoria Memorial, may be the most well-known. In Kolkata, this masterpiece exceeds all colonial architecture and symbolises perfection in every way. Sir William Emerson designed the structure in the early 20th century, making it one of his finest works. It was erected in honor of Queen Victoria and cost a whopping Rs.150,000,000 when it was completed. The edifice is itself a mosaic with attractions, each showcasing the craftsmanship of the era’s craftsmen. A wide range of concepts and ideals are represented in the form of statues, including motherhood, architecture, education, justice, charity, and wisdom. The memorial’s statues were imported from Rome at the time of its construction.

 

Located at the southernmost end of Kolkata Maidan lies the Victoria Memorial. The building is clearly visible from a distance thanks to its location in the heart of a sprawling garden. The structure also features an angel perched on top of the structure. The Gate EM Bypass Kolkata is the ideal location from which to enjoy Kolkata’s myriad attractions. This Kolkata hotel, with its opulence and charm, is India’s best hotel. A five-meter-tall bronze statue of Queen Victoria also stands in the city’s plaza. 3 tons is the weight of this statue alone. This building’s awe-inspiring lighting effect is its crowning glory. Even at night the building is illuminated from every angle, making it look like a beacon.

 

However, it is important to remember that such a monument is indeed a museum that re-creates the grandeur of the Raj, which has faded since Delhi became the capital. Entrance to the museum & memorial is free, but donations are appreciated. The central government is in charge of maintaining the facility. Because of political factors, the memorial’s importance is underestimated even though it rivals the Taj in sheer visual and physical grandeur. Monuments honoring Raj greats, Indian troops who served in the British army, and sculptors & paintings of those soldiers may all be found here. A new generation of Indian leaders emerges with the country’s independence.

 

Conclusion

 

At the conclusion of the day, a visitor will be overwhelmed by the monument’s splendour. It also implies that the Raj era can’t be dismissed as a fantasy. We know this for sure thanks to the presentation of the real-life weapons of Warren Hastings.

 

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