The dramatic white marble Victoria Memorial at the southern end of the Maidan, with its formal gardens and watercourses, continues to be Kolkata’s pride and joy. Other colonial monuments and statues throughout the city have been renamed or demolished, but attempts to change the name of the “VM” have come to nothing. This extraordinary hybrid building designed by Sir William Emerson, with Italianate statues over its entrances, Mughal domes in its corners, and elegant open colonnades along its sides, was conceived by Lord Curzon to commemorate the empire at its peak, though by the time it was completed in 1921, twenty years after Victoria’s death, the capital of the Raj had shifted to Delhi.
The main entrance, at the Maidan end, leads into a tall chamber beneath the dome. The 25 galleries inside still contain mementoes of British imperialism including statues of Queen Mary, King George V and Queen Victoria. Well worth seeing, the Calcutta Gallery provides a fascinating insight into the history and life of the Indians of the city and the Independence struggle through paintings, documents and old photographs.