Architecture

Curzon, from the very beginning, had laid out in impeccable details, how he envisaged the Memorial for the Queen. Emphasis was placed on symbolism. The Victoria Memorial Hall was conceived to be not only a monument in memory of the deceased queen but to project the building as ‘a standing record of our wonderful history.’ Curzon had desired the building to serve as an impressive example of colonial presence. Hence Curzon entrusted architect William Emerson who already had to his glory the famous architectural buildings like the Crawford market in Mumbai and All Saints Cathedral in Prayagraj. With his affinity towards classical style, he insisted Emerson to submit designs in the Italian Classical Renaissance style. As assistant to Emerson, Vincent Esch was appointed in 1902 and he was encouraged to sketch an original design for Victoria Memorial Hall. Esch was promoted as the project’s Superintending Architect. It is noteworthy that even though Curzon had employed British architects to build the memorial, it necessarily reflected not only a classical style but also a reflection of the Taj Mahal, which Curzon regarded as the epitome of architecture in India.

Some Fascinating details of the architecture:

  • Indian details adorn the building in perfect harmony such as the Indian corbels in the frieze of the entablature and jalis in the arches, in the upper storey of the exterior.
  • The domes of the corner towers have a characteristically Mughal Shape.
  • A pervasive Indian character in the building arises from the material – white marble from the same quarries in Makrana, Rajasthan, which supplied the marble for the Taj Mahal.
  • Other similarities are in the forms of the great dome, clustered with four subsidiary domed- chattris and the high terrace.
  • The total estimated marble used for constructing the Victoria Memorial Hall is around 1,96,000 cubic feet
  • The total height of the building is 200 ft, it is 396 ft long and 283 ft broad. The dome is 61 ft in diameter.

The Angel of Victory

  • Standing atop the dome, the Angel of Victory is like a giant weather cock, which rotates when the wind speeds are higher than 20 kmph.
  • She is 16 ft high, 3 tons in weight and is supported by a steel rod driven through the hole of the stone finial, secured at the bottom by steel ties and braces.
  • She holds a laurel wreath in her right hand and a trumpet in her left hand.

Making of Victoria Memorial Hall

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July 20, 2024