One of the city’s most iconic locations, Victoria Memorial is so much more than just a pretty monument. The first place every tourist to the city heads to, the sparkling white marble structure of the Victoria Memorial is absolutely marvellous. Commissioned by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, the white beauty gets its name since it was designed to commemorate the demise of Queen Victoria back in 1901 (although it wasn’t completed until 20 years after her death). You’ll find this beauty on every Kolkata Instagram page, postcard, travelogue — everywhere! Besides its architectural beauty, there’s a lot to do here.
There are rows of vendors selling everything from ice cream to pav bhaji and phuchkas on both the primary entrances. Sorry to play spoilsport, but it’s not the best idea to get a buggy ride. The horses pulling the carriages are often underfed, overworked and are subject to really harsh conditions. It might seem like a lot of fun to hop on a carriage, but spare a thought for the poor ponies.
It’s said that the VM was built to rival the Taj Mahal. There are a lot of similarities — like the Taj, it is built of white Makrana marble and is a memorial to an empress. The domes, the four subsidiaries, and octagonal-domed chattris are similar in design to the Taj Mahal too.
Inside, there’s more to see than you would think. The main attraction is the soaring central chamber. The Calcutta Gallery is an excellent exhibition tracing the city’s colonial-era history. The museum also houses a number of Queen Victoria’s personal items. If you want a snapshot of India’s past particularly during the British era, this is where you need to go.
The VM is ideal to visit in the winter months. In winter, there’s also a sound and light show, much like the one at the Red Fort in Old Delhi. It’s an open-air show that gives you a quick glance into Kolkata’s history. Covering four centuries in a matter of minutes, the newly-improved show is now a digital show with 3D projection on the building.