Victoria Memorial of Lucknow, a forgotten British legacy with out queen's statue

seated Queen Victoria, Lucknow memorial.

Above image: This statue of the Queen Victoria and Empress of India is virtually a duplicate of the one in made for Lucknow, which is now in the State Museum there......

Victoria Memorial in Lucknow

Above image:  It is a rare photo of original Victoria Memorial in Lucknow that adorned the present day park renamed  Begum Hazrat Mahal Park.....
Above image: Victoria memorial, the canopy   has just the platform with no queen's statue. Victoria's  was relocated to the Lucknow Museum, along with other statues and relics of the colonial era...... 

When the non-Congress party came to power in West Bengal in the 1960s, it sounded the death knell for the British statues. They  faced an impending danger- their removal from the public places because  they were the reminders of colonial atrocities, exploitation and blatant racial discriminationin the last 200 years of their rule. All 13 British men with a distant gaze  and aura of authority standing on the tall pedestal  at busy intersections of Barrackpore , 30 km from Kolkata, once the capital of British India had a fall from sublime to shame. They were ceremoniously removed from the pedestal and taken to a museum for lasting rest. After that incident several British statue across India  were removed and safely kept in the museum. At Lucknow, the seated statue of Queen Victoria was removed from the pedestal and shifted to the museum in the same city.  

Once tucked in a small corner of the park in the center of the city, Lucknow was one among the  Indian cities that honored the British queen.  The Empress of India's statue was erected in the wake of her death   on January 22, 1901; Queen Victoria was the second woman monarch whose reign was the longest one in history. 

The administrators of the British India  whose colonial mentality was very much ingrained in their mindset in the midst of many freedom protests across the country  against their misrule, wanted to impress on the Indians their hegemony and  imperial supremacy. So, they took a decision to have a monument built in honor of Queen Victoria at many places like Kolkata (Calcutta), Lucknow, Allahabad and other places.

At Kolkata an impressive memorial  was planned through the efforts of  Lord Curzon, British administrator. King George V, the then Prince of Wales laid the foundation  in January 1906 and opened to the public in 1921. It is one of the best lasting memorials in the world to the departed English queen. The cost of construction was borne through public subscriptions and donations from the princely states as they were beholden to the Raj to retain their power and pelf. A portion of the funds collected in Lucknow was shared with Calcutta. 

The construction of the Victoria Memorial of Lucknow started in September 1904 and was inaugurated on the 2nd of April, 1905   in the park, then known as the Victoria park). During that period,  it was under the kingdom of Awadh (part of present day UP).  A fine white  marble structure built over the  a red sandstone platform, it is characteristic of many Indian architectural elements -  the center of the edify has a ‘chhatri’  topped by a dome with a finial and surrounded by four smaller pavilions. The dome perching on the roof is  supported by brackets. The entire structure is  supported by columns and decorated arches. The other features are four octagonal platforms surrounding the ‘chhatri’,  lotus bud designs (may be copied from  the Nadan Mahal Maqbara, the oldest monument of Lucknow),  at the corners of the arches and  a parapet running  around the dome.  

Architect Sir Samuel Swinton

The British  architect was none other than Sir Samuel Swinton (January 1841- December 1917) who was not new to the fusion of Indian elements with the European style. About the incorporation of arches on four sides,  chhatris, etc., the inquisitive architect got inspiration from  the Alai Darwaza of the Qutab Complex in Delhi, the  chhatris  or overhanging eaves with their ornamental brackets, common in  Rajasthan and Gujarat. The  Chhatris on top around the dome  at top look like minarets in a mosque. 

Chhatris of Victoria memorial,

Swinton designed many famous buildings in India - Gorton Castle, Shimla, Daly College, Indore, All Saints Church, Jaipur and  Albert Hall Museum, Jaipur may be worthy of mention.  Like Robert Chisholm, Swinton  was a proponent of the Indo-Saracenic style. As for the seated statue of  Queen Victoria's statue within the canopy, it was done by  Mr. Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925) who commissioned it in 1903.