The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is a symbol of both the city and of the entire British Raj. A tribute to Queen Victoria by the viceroy of India, the giant, white-marble building was erected over a 15-year period, starting in 1906. Today it houses a museum covering the history of the Raj and is surrounded by English-style gardens.
The Victoria Memorial is made from Makrana marble, the same material used to construct the Taj Mahal, and shares many similar features with India’s best-known monument. Inside is a museum that provides visitors a walk through the history of Kolkata and the complex relationship between Britain and India in West Bengal. The 25 galleries display more than 3,500 Raj-related artifacts, including Queen Victoria’s desk and piano. The memorial is a stop on many Kolkata tours, along with sights such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Mother House, by air-conditioned vehicle. Some tour options include lunch.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Victoria Memorial is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in history.
- Day passes to the garden can be purchased separately.
- The lovely gardens surrounding the monument make for pleasant picnicking, especially on cooler days.
How to Get There
The Victoria Memorial is situated in the heart of Kolkata's Hastings area, on the southeastern side of the sprawling Maidan green space. The area is walkable, with plenty of Raj-era attractions within easy reach on foot, including the historic buildings of Park Street. For those relying on public transit, the Victoria Memorial is about a 10-minute walk from the Rabindra Sadan metro station.
When to Get There
The Victoria Memorial is open Wednesday through Monday from 10am to 5pm. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning, on a weekday, when crowds are small. If you’re more interested in the architecture than the museum inside the structure, you may prefer to stop by in the evening, when the building is beautifully illuminated.
The Victoria Memorial was designed by architect William Emerson, who was also responsible for Mumbai's Crawford Market and Allahabad's All Saints Cathedral. The Indo-Saracenic style dominates here, with towers, domes, and terraces along with Corinthian features. Statues adorn the exteriors, and a towering sculpture of the Angel of Victory stands atop the central dome.