The Mind-Boggling Exhibits of the Indian Museum

Nathaniel Wallich

Nathaniel Wallich

A wonderful attraction that people may visit as part of their Kolkata tour package is the Indian Museum. Established in 1814 by a curator, named Nathaniel Wallich, it is among the largest and most well-stocked museums in India. Its exhibits cover the fields of archaeology, art, anthropology, geology, zoology and botany and each section has numerous galleries.

Indian Museum, KolkataAs visitors enter the archaeology section in the main entrance gallery, they see clay and stone sculptures from the Sunga and Mauryan periods. The Pre and Proto Historic Gallery here contains an array of excavated artefacts belonging to the Harappan era. Stone and brick pieces, salvaged from the ruins of buildings in Bodh Gaya and those built during the Sunga period are also displayed here. They show beautifully carved circular, animal and human designs on walls or pillars. Also part of the archaeology section are stone and bronze sculptures from the Gandhara School and those from the Kushana, Chandela, Pallava, Gupta, Hoysala and Chola periods. Coins from 5th century BC to present times, terracotta, pottery and other daily used objects as well as an Egyptian mummy is also kept here.

Art and Anthropology

The Art area has numerous paintings from the Persian, Mughal, Deccan, Rajasthani and Pahari schools. People here can also see art from Bengal, represented in a palm leaf, manuscripts and works by many artists including Rabindranath Tagore and his brothers. The Decorative Arts and Textile Gallery displays pottery, bronze, brass, ivory, jade, silver, copper-wire, damascene and bidri objects. Handkerchiefs, sarees, bedsheets and carpets from various parts of India are also exhibited here. Its South East Asian area shows porcelain, textile, ivory carvings, gilded bronze, painted wood and cloth paintings from China, Japan, Myanmar, Java, Tiber and Nepal. The Palaeo area of the Anthropology gallery displays the changes in the skeleton to educate people about the evolution of man. Its cultural sub-division tells visitors about the physical attributes, economy, languages and cultures of people living in different geographical regions of India. Masks, worn by the locals of West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Bhutan and Papua New Guinea are also worth seeing as are numerous musical instruments.

Geology, Zoology and Botany

Fossils of the ancestors of various vertebrates including ancient horses, pigs, cows and those of dinosaurs enchant visitors in the Shivalik sector of the Geology Gallery. The Invertebrate sector has fossils of arthropods, corals, ammonites, Brachiopoda, gastropods, fish, snakes and plants of the pre-historic Gondwanaland. While in this area of the building, people can also see different types of rocks and minerals from across the country and the world. Models of several marine creatures like sharks, rays, rohu, saw fish, catla, betta and hilsa are displayed in the fish part of the Zoology sub-division. Likewise the amphibian and reptile part exhibits different species of snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles. Ducks, pelicans, peacocks and other indigenous and foreign birds are kept in another area of this part. The Zoology sub-division also has fake mammals across different species and in different ecological settings. Last, but not the least, the 8 bays in the Botany section educate people about timbers, food products, vegetable fibres, medicinal plants, oils and oilseeds from India. Other specimens here relate to paddy, sugarcane, papers and what they are made from, shola products, silk products, crude drugs, dyes and tans.

Victoria Memorial – An Architectural Masterpiece

Kolkata, the bustling capital of the culturally-rich state of West Bengal, is one of the biggest metropolises of India. The city was founded by the British colonists in the early 17th century during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir. A factory was set-up in 1620, and thence, the British influence in the area started to grow. In 1911, the city was declared as the capital of British India and later, it became a significant hub for the Indian freedom struggle. People visit many attractions during Kolkata tours like Howrah Bridge, Saint Paul Cathedral, Indian Museum, Marble Palace, Victoria Memorial and more.

 

Victoria Memorial

 

Queen Victoria was one of the most powerful leaders of the world and ruled England and its colonies from 1837 to 1901, making her the longest serving British monarch in history. In 1876, she assumed the title of the Empress of India and remained as such till her death. After her demise, Lord Curzon, the erstwhile Viceroy, proposed the construction of a monument to celebrate her reign. The Victoria Memorial was designed by Sir William Emerson, and Vincent J Esch assisted him. King George V laid the foundation stone in 1906 and the memorial was publicly inaugurated in 1921. The construction cost of around one crore and five lakh rupees was borne by different rulers of Indian princely states, people associated with the Raj and government officials in London.

 

A mix of Persian, Indian and Gothic architecture was used to construct this spacious building, measuring 38, 228 and 184 feet in length, breadth and height, respectively. The façade is beautifully adorned with statues representing the angel of victory, art, justice, motherhood, prudence, architecture and learning. This feature is characteristic of the Gothic style of architecture and shows the European influence. The Taj Mahal is said to be its main source of inspiration and the marble used for the construction was sourced from the same quarry in Makrana in the state of Rajasthan. A Persian influence is apparent from the domes, shaped like onions.

 

The structure serves as a museum and there are 25 vivid galleries inside. Copies of oil paintings on display in London are housed in the Royal Gallery. The paintings are of the coronation of the queen in Westminster Abbey, her marriage to Prince Albert and the wedding of Prince Edward VII. Her piano and desk from Windsor Palace adorn the centre of the hall. The Calcutta Gallery was opened in 1992 and has portraits depicting the development of the city from the 17th century to 1911. 21 gardeners maintain the 64-acre lush grounds surrounding the entire building. Statues of the queen and lords Hastings, Cornwallis, Clive and other adorn the garden. People on their family holidays to Kolkata can consider visiting this excellent piece of architecture.

 

Important Information

 

Garden fee is INR 4 while museum fee is INR 10 for Indians, INR 150 for others and nil for children below 12 years of age. Victoria Memorial can be visited on all days except Monday, and the best weather in the city is from November to February. International flights from Southeast Asia and domestic flights from major cities land at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport – the air gateway to the city. Trains can also be taken to Howrah and Sealdah railway stations from all the major Indian cities. A well-established network of national highways connects the city to the rest of the country.

Reliving History at the Colonial Edifices of Kolkata

Counted among the largest cities of India, Kolkata is the administrative capital of West Bengal that receives a significant influx of domestic and international travelers throughout the year. The city boasts of having the title of the cultural capital of India, and was a prominent center for the historic Bengal Renaissance. This majestic land of Kolkata has been the birthplace of several great writers, poets and other iconic personalities. Frequent visitors have an opinion that any traveler who gets a chance to explore the metropolitan cities of India should consider putting this city in their itinerary. Nowadays, there are several travel portals offering all-inclusive Kolkata tour packages, which can be quite convenient for touring this place.

 

History of Victoria Memorial

 

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

A popular thing about this destination is the presence of splendid edifices from the colonial era. While talking about such quaint structures, Victoria Memorial cannot be ruled out from the list. It is a large hall built of marble that was constructed in the early 20th century as a dedication to Queen Victoria – the erstwhile queen of England. The building now houses a popular museum and is a prestigious tourist attraction. Located near the bank of the Hooghly River, it was built under the auspices of the viceroy of India – George Curzon. The foundation was laid by King George V in 1906 while the formal opening for people took place in 1921.

 

This structure was not an independent venture and included enormous funding by various Indian states and British officials. The architecture was under the supervision of the then-president of the Royal Institute of British Architects – William Emerson, who beautifully blended the best elements from British and Mughal designs. The splendid landscaped gardens present here were designed by Lord Redesdale and David Prain. There was a delay in the construction of this building due to the departure of Curzon from India that resulted in the loss of enthusiasm for the huge project.

 

Features

 

The impressive galleries of this edifice are delights to view and feature royal gallery, portrait gallery and national leaders gallery as the main exhibit venues. One of the largest collections of beautiful works by Thomas Daniell can be found here. Portraits of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are worth beholding and are showcased in the royal gallery. These portraits illustrate various aspects of their lives, including the coronation of the queen and her marriage to the royal heir. The Calcutta gallery was introduced by Saiyid Nurul Hasan during the 1970s and was devoted entirely for depicting the history of this city. Talking about the gardens of this memorial, these are some of the finest and well-maintained ones in the city and are looked after by about 20 gardeners.

 

This garden features a statue of Queen Victoria, which was crafted using bronze by George Frampton and shows her seated on an elegant throne. Some other statues can also be found here that were built to commemorate various other high-rank officials. It is because of the presence of such great locations and landmarks that India tour packages are provided with visits to these.

An Outing to the Beautiful Beaches near Kolkata

Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal that is known for its rich culture and captivating landscapes. It is the land where notable people like Ramakrishna, Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore were born. Over decades, this city has drawn attractions of globetrotters for its Terracotta items, sweets, tant cotton sarees and handicrafts. Travellers prefer to visit several places of interest, such as Eden Gardens, Nicco Park, Victoria Memorial and Rabindra Sarobar, during their Kolkata tour. Even though this place is not adjacent to the sea, there are various shores, which are located in outskirts of its main township. Some of these are Digha, Shankarpur, Mandarmani, Talsari and Sagardwip.

 

Talsari Beach

 

Talsari Beach

Talsari Beach

Talsari Beach is situated near the Subarnarekha River and Bay of Bengal. The name of this seashore was derived from two words – tala (palm) and sari (row). This coast lies near Digha, which is a famous seaside destinations in the state. Nature lovers are not only attracted to the picturesque surroundings but also by the stunning vistas of sunrise and sunset. There are generally three seasons in Talsari – summer, monsoon and winter. During the daytime, the weather remains pleasant with less amount of moisture.

 

The shore is beautified by turquoise waters, swaying coconut palms and lush green hills. Tourists get to see red crabs, starfish and several other marine organisms at this place. A lot of vacationers are seen engaged in activities like fishing, motorbike riding, swimming, sunbathing, yachting and scuba diving. With its tranquillising atmosphere and breathtaking beauty of the landscape, this place offers an unforgettable experience to tourists. There are several restaurants near the seashore that offer mouthwatering local cuisine, specially seafood. Travellers can stay at nearby resorts and hotels, which provide a fabulous view of the adjoining sea.

 

Sagardwip Beach

 

Sagardwip Beach

Sagardwip Beach

Every year, thousands of travellers visit Sagardwip Beach to witness its beauty. This seashore is popularly called as Gangasagar amongst locals. It forms a part of the Sunderban islands and is known for its religious significance. People coming to this place can be spotted engaged in boating and watching dolphins while enjoying their beach holidays. With the clear waters and sparkling white sand, it provides a soothing and pleasurable ambience to vacationers. There is an imposing lighthouse, from where a the entire shore can be seen by travellers. At the time of sunset, sky appears to be golden in colour with red shades at the horizon; thus giving a picture-perfect view to tourists.

 

This seafront is considered to be one of the most prominent Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. On the pious occasion of Makar Sankranti, hundreds of Hindu devotees visit this place to take a sacred dip in the Ganga River and Bay of Bengal. Thereafter, they offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. Moreover, the huge Gangasagar Mela is organised annually on this day. This fair is considered amongst the biggest events in West Bengal. Visiting this place is a fulfilling experience as it combines unlimited fun with a feeling of religiousness.