Victoria Memorial is an iconic landmark in Kolkata. It was conceptualised by the then Viceroy of India, George Curzon, to commemorate Queen Victoria (1819-1901).
History of Victoria Memorial
Queen Victoria was the Queen of the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Ireland). She assumed the throne on 20th June 1837. She was also crowned as the Empress of India on 1st May 1876.
Following her demise on 22nd January 1876, Lord George Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, decided to construct the architectural marvel Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. The idea was to build a grand and colossal structure with a hall (Victoria Memorial Hall) where people could assemble and peek into the glorious past of British life and times. A garden was also planned to surround the memorial.
On 4th January 1906, the foundation stone of Victoria Memorial was laid by the Prince of Wales George V. He later became King George V in 1910. The Victoria Memorial took fifteen years to construct and was finally launched for the public in 1921.
When Victoria Memorial was conceptualised, Kolkata was the British capital of India. However, when it was opened for the public, Kolkata was a provincial city since the capital city was moved to Delhi.
The total cost of the Victoria memorial construction was INR 10,500,000. Lord Curzon appealed to British royalty and citizens to construct the Victoria Memorial, and many notable royals, individuals, and London's British government contributed voluntarily.
Architecture and Style of Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial, Kolkata is a classic example of the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style of architecture. The memorial was designed by William Emerson, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. If you notice carefully, you can see a perfect blend of British, Mughal, Deccani, Venetian, Egyptian, and Islamic styles in the Victoria Memorial building.
The colossal structure was built with Makrana marble found in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The building's measurement is 103m by 69m, and its height is 56m. The garden surrounding Victoria Memorial was designed by Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain. The area of the garden is 64 acres. Vincent J. Esch. Messrs was entrusted with the responsibility to design the garden gates. The main building of the Victoria memorial, including the Victoria Memorial Hall, was built by Martin & Co. Presently, 21 gardeners maintain the large garden.
Main Attractions in Victoria Memorial Hall
Visitors can find twenty-five galleries in the Victoria Memorial Hall. Some famous galleries are the Calcutta gallery, the sculpture gallery, the Royal Gallery, the National Leader's gallery, etc. There are many exotic and exquisite oil paintings of the life and time of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. The Calcutta Gallery was proposed in the mid-1970s by Saiyid Nurul Hasan, the then Education Minister of India. It was launched in 1992. The Calcutta gallery lets you take a sneak peek into the Calcutta of the yesteryear, from the time of Job Charnock till the recent past.
The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata houses many priceless antiques, paintings, weapons, artefacts, coins, stamps, and textiles. It also contains the Queen's possessions, such as her writing desk, chair, scrapbook, etc. Visitors can also see rare books like Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, William Shakespeare's masterpieces, and many others.
On entering the memorial, you can see a magnificent bronze statue of Queen Victoria. You can also find statues of Edward VII, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Hastings, Lord Curzon, among others. An architectural masterpiece is the Angel of Victory. The Angel of Victory rotates with strong wind.
Victoria Memorial is an iconic landmark in the heart of Kolkata. Its magnificent structure and exotic design make it an architectural marvel.
FAQs about Victoria Memorial
- Where is the Victoria Memorial Located?
Victoria Memorial is located on 1, Queens Way, Maidan, Kolkata, West Bengal 700071.
- Who built the Victoria Memorial?
The Victoria Memorial was conceptualised by Lord George Curzon and built by Martin & Co.
- When was Victoria Memorial opened for the public?
The Victoria Memorial was opened for the public in 1921.