Victoria Memorial

The Victoria Memorial, situated near Jawaharlal Nehru road in Kolkata, West Bengal, is one of the prime tourist destinations for people from India and overseas. The memorial was built to serve a dual purpose - to mark the great success of the British Empire in India, and as a memorial to Queen Victoria.

These days, the Victoria Memorial Hall has been turned into a museum which is maintained by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The museum showcases sketches, miniatures, paintings, books, statues, as well as arms providing insight into that crucial period of Indian history.

About Queen Victoria

The Empress of India, Queen Victoria served the Great Britain as a monarch for more than 63 years. She was made the Queen of the United Kingdom in 1837 after the death of her uncle William IV. She passed away in the year 1901 and was succeeded by her son King Edward VII.

History

The Victoria Memorial was built between 1906 and 1921 in the honour of Queen Victoria. The idea to construct a memorial in the honour of Queen Victoria was suggested in January 1901 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India.

The foundation stone of the memorial was laid on 4 January 1906 by the Prince of Wales (King George V). After being under construction for 15 years, the memorial was ready to be visited by public in 1921. The construction work of the memorial was given to Messrs. Martin & Co., Calcutta.

The memorial has been constructed using funds of about 10 million rupees, contributed by the Indian princely states.

Architecture

The memorial has been designed in white Makrana marble following the Indo-Saracenic revivalist architectural style. A product of Mughal, Deccani, British, Egyptian, Venetian, as well as Islamic designs, the white memorial was under the architectural supervision of William Emerson, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Emerson also had the credit of designing the Crawford Market in Mumbai.

The bridge of the north and the garden gates have been designed by Vincent J. Esch, the assistant of William Emerson. On the top of the central dome is a figure of 'Angel of Victory'. It is a 4.9-metre-tall statue and weighs five tonnes.

Royal Gallery

The gallery has numerous paintings by Jansen and Winterhalter, depicting scenes from the lives of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The treasured artifacts at the gallery include:
  • A piano that was gifted to Victoria in 1829 when she was 10 years old. The piano is famous as the grand piano. Recently the piano has been shifted to the central gallery of the Victoria Memorial.
  • A writing desk which was used by Queen Victoria at the Windsor Castle.
  • The Jaipur Procession: It is the third-biggest oil painting in the world. It depicts King Edward VII visiting his state in 1876.

Some of the paintings depict:
  • Victoria receiving the sacrament at her coronation in Westminster Abbey in June 1838.
  • Victoria's marriage to Albert at St. James' Palace in 1840.
  • The christening of the Prince of Wales ((Edward VII) in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in 1842.
  • Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra in 1863.
  • The First Jubilee service at Westminster Abbey in 1887.
  • The Second Jubilee service at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1897.

Calcutta gallery

The Calcutta Gallery at the Victoria Memorial is the first city gallery of India. The initiative to set up the gallery was taken up by the then Education Minister of India, Prof. S. Nurul Hasan with the aim to attract intellectuals from all over the world to the memorial.

Paintings at the gallery:
  • Bipin Behari Dutta by R. B. Dutta
  • Michael Madhusudan Dutt
  • Ram Mohan Roy
  • Pontoon bridge between Calcutta and Howrah (popular as Howrah Bridge)
  • Card Players by Bhabani Charan Laha
  • Devendranath Tagore
  • Pykar or peddlers by Mrs. Belnos
  • Goddess Kali by Beni Madhab Bhattacharjee

Some of the other galleries in the memorial are:
  • The National Leaders' Gallery
  • The Portrait Gallery
  • The Central Hall
  • The Sculpture Gallery
  • The Arms and Armoury gallery

Gardens

Spread over an area of 64 acres, the gardens surrounding the memorial have been designed by David Prain and Redesdale. The garden is maintained by a 21-member team of gardeners.

Towards the gate in the north, there is a statue of Queen Victoria in bronze. A product of Sir George Frampton, the statue depicts the queen sitting on her throne.

There is an Edward Lawn where the visitors can see a bronze statue of the King Edward VII under the memorial arch in the southern part of the complex. It was designed by Sir Bertram Mackennal.

Another lawn, Curzon Lawn, has a sculpture of Curzon designed by Frederic William Pomeroy.

The garden contains many other statues, including that of Cornwallis, Hastings, Clive, Dalhousie, Bentinck, Wellesley, Ripon, Andrew H. L. Fraser and Rajendranath Mookerjee.

Last Updated on : February 18, 2014