I have been to Kolkata almost every year of my life, but I had never been to Victoria Memorial before.I remember seeing it every time we left Kolkata though, before the renovation of the airport, there used to be a huge mural of this building at the departure gates. I used to keep calling it the Taj Mahal; which I know is incorrect – but the similarities I saw are mentioned in the article: they’re both built of white marble, they’re both memorials to an empress, they have their domes, four subsidiaries, high portals, domed corner towers, and they both have water nearby.
The Calcutta Gallery was the most memorable for me. I, regrettably, didn’t learn much about Kolkata’s history until very recently. My interest was sparked with Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, which was a captivating and weighty read, but contained some historical inaccuracies which prompted me to look up more. The Calcutta Gallery visually displays the history and development of Calcutta from 1630 to 1911 when the capital of India was transferred to New Delhi.
This is when I learnt about how Calcuttans accessed and skilfully utilised the English Language to gain more rights for Indians, and contributed to the independence movement of India, and obviously made the British so worried, that they shifted the capital.
Another highlight was the lifesize diorama of Chitpur road in the 1880s.
There are a lot of things that I realised I had picked up and heard about, and know now, but this is definitely a place I want to go back to and read more and understand more.
I went with mum and my sisters, next time I’m going to get my dad to take us so that he can explain the history of his city.
We went to another gallery on the ground floor before leaving, and this displayed a number of oil paintings. It kind of scared me to see that they weren’t protected by anything and had a fan in front of every painting. I’m not sure if that is sufficient protection of these historical pieces.