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Friday, 20 February 2015

Victoria Memorial - (Calcutta) Kolkata

Victoria Memorial - The Genesis!

To ponder on what would have motivated the building of the Victoria Memorial, it would well be understood as the perception of the Empire of the people of the East. That this perception belongs to the British, more than the local India populace cannot be more evident than from the ramblings of The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Ronaldshay, in his 'authorized' biography - The Life of Lord Curzon!

The magic that is India - From the self effacing to the pompous! The transformation of Lord Curzon

January 23rd, 1901

At the quarter to four in the morning, the Viceroy was awakened to be apprised of the death of Queen Victoria.

"The news spread with great rapidity and was received with extraordinary demonstrations of grief throughout the country"

In fact, the Viceroy had on an earlier occasion of the Queen's jubilee, observed with utmost astonishment, the feelings of reverent affection displayed by the oriental people for the great white Queen, who rules from afar, but whose personality had so deeply impressed itself upon their imagination.

Now fourteen years later, he was to have further striking proof of the influence exercised upon vast masses of people of eastern birth by the intangible but dominant figure which throughout the lifetime of most of them had sat upon the throne, an almost divine personification of the might and majesty of the Imperial Britain.

He (Lord Curzon) remarked to the Secretary of State, "the British Government, the Monarchy, and the Empire were summed up and symbolised in the mind of the oriental in the personality of the Queen"

He saw that her reign constituted a definite epoch in the British Indian history, and that at this moment of its termination ought to impress the fact in an enduring manner upon the minds of the people.

He lost no time in undertaking this task he set upon himself!

Within a week of the Queen's death, he sent out a memorandum drafted and circulated to heads of Local Governments and to a number of representative Indian and European gentlemen, setting forth a clear-cut scheme for commemorating her reign. The memorandum was sent out of Jan.29th.

After discussions, on Feb. 4th, it was published in the Indian press. 

The possible forms which a memorial might take were enumerated, and should India from its contribution erect a building, or create a fund or endow a trust? Objections to the latter two were stated and alternatives dismissed!

In conclusion, it was arrived at a sort of building that would be sufficiently noble in scale, and possessing the requisite connection with the Queen's reign and personality, and be the best type of memorial.

And Calcutta be the inevitable site!


The British perception (of the oriental people) and expediency of the memorial, seems belied!

The Victoria Memorial was formally opened by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, grandson of the Queen, on December 28th, 1921. All but 16 years after the state laying of the foundation stome by King George V, then Prince of Wales, in January 1906. 

1 comment:

  1. Very nice picture. An attempt of the British to create a replica of Taj Mahal in the honour of the Queen, the Victoria Memorial is an imposing monument of glittering white marble in an oasis of green. Recognized as the symbol of Kolkata, this monument houses a museum displaying British memorabilia and knick knacks from the time of the Raj. Check out all about Victoria Memorial.

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