One Day Chronicles dos: Afternoon walk around the Garden of Victoria Memorial

It was an instantaneous decision, while idling around Rabindra Sadan at noon. Nandan, the Film Centre of Calcutta was closed due to a craft exhibition. We frowned, looking at the notice at the ticket counter. There was no way we had time for an exhibition! Actually we were waiting for Suman to come back to his home at nearby Howrah from Amta, so that we could go visit him. Poor guy had been in an accident the day before which could have gotten worse, but thankfully he escaped with only bruises and scrapes.

However we didn’t know where exactly his home was, except Rajib. The plan was for Rajib, Sujoy and me to board a Howrah bound bus from Rabindra Sadan which would take the least transport time. Right now, there was an hour to kill. So we hopped on from Nandan to the next vast and currently open monument, Victoria Memorial. To be more precise, the garden surrounding it. We didn’t have enough time to see the museum there either. After visiting Suman the three of us had to be present on the last day of the college fest at Medical College, or we’d be toast! Talk about a busy schedule! Dishevelled, we bought the tickets priced 10/- per head, entered the sprawling, apparently symmetrical garden in broad daylight (which promised to fry us within minutes with its heat), and rushed to seek however tiny a sliver of shade, emerging only when the clouds provided momentary relief.

The entrance to the large garden


Maybe a synopsis on the Memorial might help right now about Victoria Memorial for those who aren’t aware. It was a British Empire commissioned building built in the memory of Queen Victoria and her achievements after her death in 1901. The monument was built in Calcutta since it was the erstwhile capital of British India. Lord Curzon proposed the project, King George V laid the foundation stone in 1906 and William Emerson was appointed the architect. The walls consisted of white Makrana marble, which was used in building the Taj Mahal in Agra.  In design, Victoria Memorial is surely reminiscent of the work of Shah Jahan. The monument was then made open to public in 1921.

Four petal red Ixora (রঙ্গন) flowers amidst the burst of shrubs


I was telling my friends the same history, but in this weather, they were barely interested. On the right, a wide pool of sparkling water beckoned us, and Sujoy piped up, “What wouldn’t we give to be in that water right now? Damn the Sun!” Unfortunately taking a dip was forbidden. (Something to keep in mind when you’re here & have the same idea. :P)

The amazing large pool of water with the reflection of Victoria Memorial shimmering
A closer look

I kind of agreed with them. It looked beautiful, but at the same time, brought that insidious craving right to the surface of our thoughts. Wish we could all swim right now! The heat was beating down on us, so we tread carefully along the sides of the chiselled pavement, occassionally deviating from the path and taking snapshots.

Another capture, while going around the pool


We were slowly making way towards the back gate of the garden where the buses to Howrah went by. Before reaching the end, we saw painters, models, friends, family and lovers, enjoying their company with people and Nature alike. Time flowed like sand. No one seemed in a hurry, and I wondered what it would be like, just to sit and watch, going nowhere, engrossed in nothing but peace, tranquility and perhaps a coffee table read.

The solitary bare tree, spreading out its branches in innumerable picturesque claws
The garden provides pleasant panaromic views of the Memorial and the rest of Maidan


Suddenly, a phone rang in silence. It was mine. “এই বাড়ি চলে এসছি রে। তোরা আয়।” You guys can come now, I’ve just reached home. Where did that one hour go? It’s mind-boggling!

Now we had no choice but to walk faster, but before that, I had to click that one picture!

The Call of Victory, depicted by the angel at the top of the dome


“The most expected thing you can expect is what’s unexpected.” — Dick Allen

This was one of the good unexpected things I’ve experienced in my mundane life 🙂

Pictures by me and Rajib Sardar

Rajib Sardar is a collegemate of mine who is very eager and passionate about pursuing professional photography. He’s only starting as an amateur. Check out his photography website.

For more adventures on One Day Chronicles, click the tag of the same name at the top of the page.


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