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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kolkata: The Grand Marble Structure of Victoria Memorial Hall


Escaping the overpowering energy of Kolkata's streets, we followed the distant sight of the towering dome and statues that lead us to a quiet spot dominated by the sheer grandeur of this grand marble structure, known as the Victoria Memorial Hall. Dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria, this impressive edifice started construction in 1906 and opened to the public in 1921 and now remains as one of the ostentatious remains of the British rule. Today it is one of the city's tourist attraction with a museum that houses historical artifacts of the Victorian era. 

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Designed by the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects at that time William Emerson, the Memorial is a typical example of an Indo-Saracenic architecture, prevalent during the British-Colonial India. Against the clear blue skies and wind swept white clouds, the imposing building provides a postcard-like material with grandeur painted all over it. 

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Photo credit: Aileen of Travel. Food. Finds
Since this was the first day of our 25-day jaunt across India, a feeling of excitement electrified through my body, knowing that the rest of our days will be filled with amazement at landmarks such as this. Not to mention the Taj Mahal waiting for us at Agra and the many Forts, old cities, colonial buildings and places of worships littered all over India, especially the route we had penciled for our journey. 

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Imagine how Kolkata introduced us to India. With its endless road noise and overwhelming street activities. Walking among the massive crowd was an exuberant experience so far- in a way it become a fitting welcome that washes away all of my TripAdvisor influenced preconceived fears of traveling in India. 

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Buoyed by our exhausting trip from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, the 12 hour lay-over and our midnight arrival in India, my friend Aileen was a bit spent as she took a short nap on one of the benches in the garden. Fighting sleep myself since we just deposited our stuff at the hostel and proceeded to explore Kolkata, I sat in a relaxed position just watching the others go about their own business. 

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There were a lot of local tourists as well who I wondered what part of India they came from and Kolkata residents enjoying an afternoon picnic by the spacious garden that surrounds the Victoria Memorial Hall. As the sun was about to set, we took one final walk around the vast compound and awed ourselves yet again at the building's intricate patterns and details before storing it in memory. 

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Photo credit: Aileen of Travel. Food. Finds
As I stare at the statue of the Angels of Victory perched on top of the main dome, I celebrated a victory of sorts as well. Finally, my everlong desire of visiting India is finally on its first day. Many more days ahead I told myself. That instant, I felt an unrivaled high and sheer happiness I've never sensed before in all of my past travels. 



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