Victoria memorial

Victoria memorial, situated in Kolkata (Calcutta), is a monument, built in order to be immortalized the British government of India. The memorial is dedicated to the British queen Victoria, who has born the title empress of India. Nowadays the Victoria memorial is used as a museum and is one of the tourist attractions of Calcutta under the aegis of the ministry of culture.

Victoria Memorial Hall Kolkata

Source: By Samitkumarsinha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

The big marble building of Victoria memorial is located in Kolkata, Western Bengal, India, at a madan on the bank of Hooghly river, near the road Jawaharlal Nehru. The monument was built between 1906 and 1921. The bright white monument is situated in the middle of gardens, which are laying across over 27 hectares and is towering impressively above the very city. The memorial is crowned with a bronze statue of “Victoria’s Angel”, which is 4,8 meters high.

The idea for the building of the Victoria memorial belongs to Lord Curzon, who was a governor of India in the period 1899-1905. His desire was after the death of queen Victoria in year 1901 to be built a big building with a museum and gardens, and the power of his ambition was enforced by the words:

“Therefore, let us have a building, magnificent, spacious, monumental and great, towards which every newly arrived person in Calcutta shall turn, towards which the whole population shall direct,the European and the local population, where all classes shall learn the morals from the history, and their eyes shall see revived the miracles of the past.”

The prince of Wales, later king, George V, laid the first stone in the foundations of the monument on 4 January 1906, and the official opening for the public was in year 1921. A bit earlier in 1912, little before the finishing of the construction of Victoria memorial, king George announced the transferring of the capital of India from Kolkata in New Delhi. Thus the Victoria memorial was built in a country town, and not in a capital.

Victoria Memorial Kolkata panorama

Source: PlaneMad – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia

Interesting is the fact that the Victoria memorial is financed by the very India. The princes and people in India responded generously to the appeal of Curzon for the funds, and thus the general expenses for the building of the monument were provided.

The architect of Victoria memorial is William Emerson, who is a president of the Royal institute of the British architects. The design is in Indo-Saracenic revival style, as there was used mixture of British and Mongolian elements with Venetian, Egyptian, Decanian and Muslim architectural influences. The building is with dimensions 103 meters of 69 meters and is rising at height of 56 meters. It is built out of white Makrana marble. The gardens of the Victoria memorial are designed by lord Redesdale and David Prain. The assistant of Emerson, Vincent Jerome Esch, designed the bridge of the Northern aspect and the garden gates.

The marble for the building of the monument is delivered from the stone pit in Jodhpur, from where the marble for Taj Mahal is. The corner towers of the memorial are built in Mongolian style. The walls of the Victoria memorial are connected with open colonnades. The South entrance, to which is reached on a triumphal arch in memory of Eduard VII, is decorated with a statue of Lord Curzon. The vestibule of the monument is broken up by bronze busts and marble statues of royal persons.

On the walls the decoration is provided by wall panels, depicting scenes from the life and being of queen Victoria and texts from imperial proclamations. In the rooms of Victoria memorial are exhibited expensive paintings, sculptures, artefacts, books and manuscripts – all of them connected with the British royal family and the empire.