Victoria Memorial is one of the most elegant and grand monuments in the heart of Kolkata. A vast white structure made of marble is a cynosure of all eyes and a respite for the tired feet. Once you are in Kolkata it is a sin not to visit the Victoria Memorial.
Victoria Memorial, which is located near the luscious green Maidan, is a testimony of the peak of the British Empire in India. The memorial was built between 1906 and 1921 in the memory of Queen Victoria’s 25 years reign in India. Lord Curzon, who was then the Viceroy of India suggested setting up a stately memorial in the honour of the late Queen. He appealed to the people of India and the royalties to donate fund generously. The British government surprisingly did not spend a penny on this memorial. A whooping One crore Five Lacs rupees which was the cost to built the monument was donated by the people of India and the royalties!
Sir William Emerson, the President of British Institute of Architects, designed the building. The construction of the building was done by Martin & Co. of Kolkata. The foundation stone of this building was laid on January 4, 1906 and it took almost 15 years to complete it. The doors were opened for the public in 1921.
The Victoria Memorial is perhaps the most opulent structure if the British Raj in India. The huge white memorial is made from Makrana marble brought in from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. It is the same type of marble from which the Taj Mahal was built. Perhaps the British built the Memorial keeping the Taj in mind! The elegant memorial has hybrid features with Italian style statues near the entrance, Mughal domes and other European styles of architecture. The Victoria Memorial also contains a museum which houses the art and artifacts of Victorian era. It also has a collection of oil paintings and water colour paintings of various European artists. After the Indian independence, portraits and relics relating to Indian independence found place in the museum.
There are many magnificent bronze statues throughout the sprawling structure. The most famous is the bronze fairy atop the dome. The fairy is 13 tonne in weight and 16 foot in height and was said to move with the wind! But there are none except a few old timers who have seen the fairy move! But nonetheless, the fairy has become regalia of the Victoria Memorial and the Kolkatans are always optimistic that they will finally see the fairy move!
Another beauty of the Victoria Memorial is its sprawling gardens and lush green lawns. Spread across a total area of 64 acres, it has one of the best maintained gardens of Kolkata. Colourful flowers blooming are pleasant sight to the eyes.
The gardens provide a relaxing place for the families and a playground for children.
The Victoria looks even more beautiful by the night. A grandiose structure, it is truly the pride of Kolkata.
Victoria Memorial Timings:
- The garden remains open from 5:30 AM to 6.15 PM everyday.
- The Victoria Memorial Gallery remains open from 10 AM to 5 PM
- The Victoria Memorial Hall (museum) remains open on all working days except Monday. It also remains closed on public holidays. The timings are from 10 AM to 5 PM
- A special sound and light show is held every evening at the gardens of the Memorial. The show depicts the erstwhile Calcutta to the modern Kolkata with all its pride and glory.