Victoria Memorial: The Taj of British Raj

By Shivam Pathak
Victoria Memorial, an iconic substantial marble building in the middle of modern day Calcutta still epitomizes British Raj in India and resurrects the tumultuous decades of India’s struggle against British forces to retrieve freedom for their motherland. It was constructed in glory of Queen Victoria’s twenty-five years of reign in India. Queen Victoria took the grand title of the Empress of India in 1876 after the control of India came under British Paramountcy following the fierce revolt of 1857. It was under her rule that the British Empire advanced in India and touched its zenith. Her reign was ended with her death in 1901, preconizing Edward seventh as the new emperor of India. After the demise of Queen Victoria at the age of 81 years, the then viceroy of India, Lord Curzon ordered to erect a mausoleum befitting the magnificence and splendor of her majesty Queen Victoria. On the 4th of January 1906 the then Prince of Wales, George fifth laid the cornerstone of the memorial. It was after fifteen long years that the gates of the mausoleum were opened to the general public in 1921. It is believed that the memorial was intended to match up to the glory of Taj Mahal of Agra; sometimes as a matter of fact the Victoria Memorial is characterized as a Taj of British Raj in India. Very few are acquainted with the fact that before the Memorial was build up; the same place was served to house the Presidency Jail. The jail was built here in 1778. In due course of time the Presidency Jail was moved to Alipore in West Bengal in 1906 and the bygone structure was demolished to pave the way for Memorial. Up till this day the Memorial stands tall with all its grandeur in the heart of Calcutta city. Victoria Memorial museum is one of the most renowned museums in the country. Every year thousands of locals and tourists come to cast a glance on the baffling history of India’s fight for freedom. The museum has a collection of 28,000 antiquity exhibited across 25 galleries that capsulate the history of the subcontinent during British Raj. The focal point of the museum is a wide range of paintings, painted by the most renowned duo artists- Thomas and William Daniel. Though there are some other memorials of Queen Victoria existed in India, in cities like Lucknow, Chennai, and even Allahabad, but it was one in Calcutta that truly stands out. It is a prodigy of great Indo-Saracenic revivalist architecture in the city. Therefore, Queen Victoria never set foot on the land of India, but she left behind to the people of India, who were kept down by unjust use of authority, her mausoleum in the subcontinent which will serve as the memory of pain of the freedom fighters who were once crushed by the cruelties of Britishers by the mandate of Queen herself.