When you think of Kolkata you of course do think of Bengalis, but if you go further the one thing that does come to your mind is the imposing white marble structure , with its uncanny resemblance to the Taj Mahal. It is located on the road known by the name of ‘Queens way’ , in close proximity to the Race course. This area of Kolkata is remarkable, marked by lush greenery and broad, clean roads , which honestly is a rare thing to come across in Kolkata. You can easily reach Victoria by cab and if you want to travel by bus you have to get off at either Birla Planetarium or Maidan, as there are no buses that drop you off in front of Victoria Memorial, and Auto rickshaws don’t operate in this region. The Memorial gardens remain open from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. though the museum remains open from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main attraction is the architecture of this heritage site, which draws heavily from Mughal styles. The mastermind behind this monument was Lord Curzon ( Viceroy of India from 1899-1905) , who upon Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 , embarked on a plan to build this structure in memory of the queen and to showcase the pomp and glory of the Britishers. Sir William Emerson, President of the British institute of Architects was the mastermind behind the design of the building, which came into being in 1901, though construction on a full-fledged scale didn’t begin until 1906. This monument has a lot many similarities with the Taj Mahal, and indeed they aren’t conincidental. During its conception Lord Curzon had in mind a huge, grand structure, however due to the shift of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911 , along with shortage of funds shattered his dreams, but yet didn’t take away the grandeur of this beautiful piece of architecture. A matter of great interest is that the marble for this building was brought from the same place ( Makrana , Rajasthan) as that of Taj Mahal. The exquisite gardens that encircle the former also is very similar in its style to the latter. Must do when you visit Victoria memorial is check out the beautiful paintings inside the museum, take the buggy ride ( horse-drawn carriage) which though might be overrated but is worth a try and attend the light and sound show which is very interesting.
By Sruti Lodha