Among the most prominent landmarks in Kolkata, Victoria Memorial is a reminder of the city’s architectural and colonial heritage. The stunning white building, standing amidst lush gardens, is also a pleasing sight to behold. Whether you are heading to Kolkata for a business or leisure trip, do take some time out of your schedule to pay a visit to this intriguing monument. Here’s everything you need to know about Victoria Memorial Kolkata.
Things to Know about Victoria Memorial in Kolkata
The history of the Victoria Memorial is just as fascinating as its structure. When Queen Victoria, the Empress of British India, passed away in 1901, the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, suggested the construction of a grand memorial in her honour. Its foundation was laid in 1906 by the Prince of Charles, who later became King George V, and the building was formally opened for the public in 1921.
Design and Architecture
Victoria Memorial showcases Indo-Saracenic revivalist architectural style with clear Mughal, Egyptian, Islamic, Venetian, Deccani and British elements. Made of gorgeous white Markana marble, the structure soars to a height of 56 metres. The building appears to be inspired by the world-famous Taj Mahal, featuring a central dome, four smaller domes, domed chhatris, domed towers, and a terrace. Standing atop the central dome is an almost 5 metres tall figure of Angel of Victory. Numerous allegorical sculptures can be found all over the edifice.
Victoria Memorial in 21st Century
Victoria Memorial stands today as one of the most noteworthy monuments in Kolkata, as well as one of the most visited museums in the city. It features 25 galleries where you can come across 28000 artefacts such as sculptures, ammunition, books, paintings and more. After a tour of the museum, you can relax in the 56 acres of lush gardens surrounding the monument. The green space is replete with statues of renowned historical personalities.
The light and sound show, which takes place in the evening, is one of the premier highlights of Victoria Memorial Hall. It will take you through the history of Kolkata, telling you about the various crucial events that have taken place here.
Lesser-known facts about Victoria Memorial
Before the construction of the memorial, Presidency Jail stood at the location, and it was home to several well-known freedom fighters, such as Subhas Chandra Bose and Sri Aurobindo.
The funds required to construct the building were raised not by the British but by Indian royalties. Indian politicians and royal families whole-heartedly donated big sums of money to build the memorial. Only a small amount was given by the British government.
Victoria Memorial is believed to have been painted entirely black during World War II in order to prevent it from being destroyed by the Japanese airstrikes. Painting it black prevented it from becoming an easy target.
The figure of ‘Angel of Victory’ perched atop the central dome in mounted on large ball bearings and spins with the wind.
The central dome is surrounded by numerous allegorical structures, include that of art, justice, charity, learning, motherhood and architecture.
After 1947, several statues erected by the British across India were brought to the gardens of the Victoria Memorial.
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