The statue of Queen Victoria, Lucknow - a thing of the past

Hazrat Mahal memorial, Chahatri. double-dolphin.blogspot.

Upon the death of Queen Victoria ( 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) the 22nd of January, 1901, at the age of 81, the  British Indian Government had  a proposal to have a  monument built in each of the state capitals commemorating her life and  successful reign. She was the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. Circumstances forced the royal family to make Victoria ascend the most prestigious position in the world. Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld inherited the throne at the young age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. Later from 1 May 1876, Queen Victoria adopted the additional title of Empress of India.  In 1858, The British Crown directly took over the administration of India after dissolving the EIC and its legitimate rights over the Indian territories, etc.

Lord Curzon who had a long  and close contact with the  British royal family was instrumental in constructing  an impressive  and well embellished monument worth her name and regal status called "Victoria Memorial" in Calcutta made of high quality marble. Even to day, it is the most celebrated  and inspiring  tourist spot and landmark in Kolkata. The memorial came up through public subscriptions and donations from the Indian Maharajahs and Nawabs. A number of memorials for Queen Victoria were built in many places in India and the one at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh  is of particular interest to the historians. 

Hazrat Mahal memorial,Lucknow,UP.

 Hamo Thornicroft's ((1850-1925)  seated statue of Queen Victoria (unveiled in 1908), in the ornate Chhatri  within a fine canopy was removed to the Lucknow State Museum after India's independence that marked the end of a pretty  long spell of humiliating and disgusting servitude under the repressive and unfriendly British rule, particularly, during the conservative party rule in London. Indians will never forget the lousy leadership of that India-baiter Winston Churchill who was a mute spectator when millions of people died in the Bengal famine of the 1940s. Many officers of the Raj did not like the the way Churchill acted and made carping comments on the dying men in Bengal. As for the Victoria statue, the base of the pedestal that once carried the statue of seated Victoria is now a memorial to the Begum of Awadh with a plaque set on it, and the park (earlier called Victoria Park)  has been renamed  as Hazrat Mahal Begum Park. 

There was a proposal by the UP government to have  a statue of Begum Hazrat Mahal set on the existing pedestal, however, this  plan was given up midway as many conservative Muslims were against erecting  a statue of a Muslim woman in a public place. The city of Allahabad, also had a statue of Queen Victoria and both the monuments have canopies within which were placed statues of the Queen.

To erect Victoria memorials in Awadh (now part of Uttar Pradesh), the British officials at different levels formed committees to collect funds. Part of the funds collected  went to Calcutta  for the memorial fund set up by lord Curzon. Rest of the subscription was retained to have two memorials in memory of Queen Victoria built in the kingdom of Awadh  - at Lucknow and Allahabad.

Mr. Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925) beautifully designed the seated statue of Queen Victoria, Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob (1841-1917), colonial engineer  and military officer, designed the monument, including the Chhatri. The work that began in September 1904 was completed on 
2 April 1905. The total cost of the project was  about  Rs.150,000.00. Though Jacob was fond of architecture of Neo-Classical type, a blend of Gothic Revival and  Indo-Islamic style, the one here exhibits more of  Indian style, but eclectically it is different,  a sort of broad-ranging; positively not confined to one design. It is confirmed by the way the whole structure is placed on a raised plinth and the presence of four chhatris on the four corners of that plinth. There are four more chhatris atop  the monument, around the dome, resembling a mosque’s minarets. The dome itself is purely Islamic, topped by an inverted lotus bud finial. The work was done by  Messrs. Adam & Co. of Agra, under the supervision of Colonial engineers from the PWD.

In 1957, on the occasion of the centenary of the

Queen Victoria. The Sun

Sepoy mutiny, the state government renamed Victoria Park as  Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, to commemorate the courageous  role of the wife of the deposed Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah, in the first uprising against colonial rule. It was at this time that a pillar with plaques mentioning Begum Hazrat Mahal was placed inside the canopy. The Nawab of Awadh was a kind-hearted, cultured  gentleman  and a patron of arts. He was quite helpful to the East India company in every possible way. In return, using some pretexts, in particular, his extravagant life style, the English took away the kingdom of Awadh. The Nawab's profligacy, in a way, became an eye sore for the British who thought it outraged their sense of Victorian morality. Yet another factor was the region was strategically well placed and was very useful to them. Thus, the annexation of Awadh was just one of the many factors, which ignited the tinderbox of rebellion in 1857.  Begam Hazrat Mahal, with full support from the people, valiantly protested against the unjust rule of the EIC and formed a lasting niche for herself in the Indian history.
Deepanjan. "Victoria Park." The Concrete Paparazzi. Web. 12 April 2016.