Victoria Hall- More than just a memorial
On the plush lane of Queen’s Way, near Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Kolkata Maidan, stands Kolkata’s greatest edifice - the Victoria Memorial. Built under the supervision of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of British India, in memory of Queen Victoria, the large marble hall serves more than one purpose by being a museum to rare artefacts.
The massive building, that combines classical European architecture with Mughal motifs, was designed by Sir William Emerson, the President of the British Institute of Architects. While Vincent J Esch, assistant Engineer in the Bengal Nagpur Railway, was the superintendant architect, Messrs Martin and Co of Kolkata took charge of the main construction process. The landscaped gardens of the sprawling 64 acre land, was designed by Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain.
The primary structure of the memorial, looks like an 'H' shaped building, with Italian-style statues lining its entrances, Mughal domes at the corners and huge, open, curved colonnades along the sides. Italian statues of British rulers, that had once lined the stretch from Chowringhee to Maidan, now lie strewn in the garden.
A bronze statue of the enthroned Queen sits majestically at the entrance staircase. Right on top of her, at the apex of the dome, is a strategically placed black bronze angel known as Victory, holding a bugle in her hand and rotating of her own accord on windy days. As we enter the edifice, to step into a central dome shaped hall, we are greeted by the text of Queen Victoria's imperial proclamation speech, deeply engraved on the entrance. Beneath this dome lie 25 galleries with around 3000 exhibits from the period of British Imperialism.
Apart from being an integral part of our country’s past, the Victoria Memorial Hall houses a massive chunk of Indian history, within its stately corridors. Surely, a treasure to cherish!
Did You Know?
The Victoria Memorial is made entirely of 196080cft of Makrana marble from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The substructure construction of the building began in 1904 and took 20 years, not to mention 10 million rupees, to complete!