Saturday, January 26, 2008

Victoria Across

Calcutta's Answer To The Taj Mahal


Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


With this week's Photo Hunt theme being "old-fashioned" it is my very great privilege to take you on a tour of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta (now Kolkata). This shot (above) was taken in late October 2006, shortly after 7.30 in the morning, before the sun had burnt off the mist that shrouds the city like a veil of antique lace. There is an ethereal beauty to this extraordinary landmark of the city where I was born and I have to admit I had a lump in my throat when I pressed the shutter to capture this scene.


The Victoria Memorial is a white marble building that was built between 1906 and 1921. Mate, there are palaces around the world that aren't as majestic as this place. The huge angel atop the central dome is called the Angel of Victory. It's made of bronze and has ball bearings beneath its pedestal because it serves as a graceful weather vane. Yes, it still turns, despite its massive weight.


This is part of the ornate gateway (above) leading into the parkland that surrounds the Victoria Memorial. It was built to honour Queen Victoria, who was the Empress of India until her death in 1901. Calcuttans refer to it as the "VM" and the bus conductors - in that wonderful quirky telegraphic language of theirs - call it "Toria Moria".


This shot (above) was taken inside the grounds, as I walked across the vast moats that surround the expanse of parkland. When I was very little, my Dad (who knew everything about everything) told me that the moats were not just decorative and that they were designed in keeping with the foundations of the building.


This was the last shot (above) I took in the sequence that morning. I had walked back to a friend's car. I mopped my brow in the humidity and sank into the back seat of his Mercedes, my camera bag at my feet. "Finished?" he asked me. I nodded. I was done - and I was exhausted. He started the car but before he could move, I yelled out to him not to put it into drive. He looked at me as if I was mad. I reached for my camera, took the lens cap off and shot this final frame of the Victoria Memorial reflected in his wing mirror.

67 comments:

Merisi said...

Beautiful images!
Good that your friend belongs to the species who will brake for a photographer friend. ;-)

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Happy Australia Day!





(waz that yesterday or today? Oops sorry. Well Happy Day!)

:@}

david mcmahon said...

Thank you, Merisi,

He understands creative lunacy!! Thank goodness ....

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Thank you, Bob,

It sure is Australia Day today (Saturday morning almost 9am here).

Thank you very much - I'll be enjoying the long weekend!

Keep smiling

David

Julie said...

http://www.amazon.com/Art-William-S-Phillips-Flight/dp/0867130229/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201298125&sr=8-2

Exquisite - the colours remind me of blue lace agate; beautiful crisp shots. Apologies for this mixed bag, but thanks for your comment on mine - the Grumman was just ace!
The link at the top is to an old aviation art book I've really enjoyed - WS Phillips, The Glory of Flight - if you've not come across it.

D... said...

How beautiful! Glad your friend stopped so you could take that final picture. It was worth it!

Tiffany Norris said...

This is beautiful! Thanks for the tour! By the way, I've been meaning to thank you for the bits of photo instruction. We got a new camera for Christmas, and we're still learning.

lynn said...

I like taking wing mirror shots too! These are wonderful David. My favourite is the atmospheric first one.

-TNChick- said...

Beautiful, beautiful place!

Thanks for your support - you'd be surprised how many don't support... =)

julie said...

I love your photos, David. The first one makes the structure so mysterious and the last one evokes sad feelings.

Well, Happy Australia Day to you! I hope you have a great time :)

Jamie Lovely said...

Awesome pictures!

Kimberly said...

Some day I will leave North America and will see the things I've dreamt of seeing. Thank you for giving me something more to look forward to.

And Happy Australia Day!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Julie,

Thank you so much for the link to the WS Phillips book. Will check it out.

Glad you liked the Harvard picture. I have some other shots from the air show which I must dig out.

Do keep in touch

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi D,

Thank you. Yes, I was lucky he wasn't in a tearing hurry!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Tiffany,

Thank you for your support. Do let me know if you have any questions about the camera - I'd be happy to help, any time.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Lynn,

I was just lucky with the mist. Yep, that's my favourite as well.

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi TNChick,

Yes, it's an amazing place to visit.

You always have my support. I think your PhotoHunt is a great concept and as the originator, you have the right to lay down the rules.

Simple as that!!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Julie,

I'm so glad you liked the pictures. Funny thing is, when we grew up in Calcutta, we probably took the Victoria Memorial for granted!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Jamie Lovely

Thank you. But I guess it's easy to take photographs of a building that is so exquisite!

Keep smiling

David

david mcmahon said...

Hi Kimberly,

You have the power to make your dreams come true. It would be such a great experience as well ....

Keep smiling

David

Jeni said...

As always, your photographs never cease to put me in awe of the places you visit or the sights you find wherever you go. Just gorgeous pictures, David, simply gorgeous.
And thanks too for those great "posts of the day." I've been enjoying every last one of those you've recommended this week.

Vi said...

Wow, that last shot in the mirror is beautiful! Oh and happy oz day from an ex pat, who isn't celebrating it at all *sigh*

suchsimplepleasures said...

those are incredibly gorgeous pictures!!! what an amazing beauty, that part of the world is!!!
thanks for enlightening me...i never knew!!

Carver said...

Hi David,

Those are all wonderful photographs and I particularly love the last one you caught in the mirror. I hope you have a great weekend. Take care, Carver

Lee said...

Wow, David! All the shots are beautiful but that first one takes my breath away. It looks like it is burned out velvet over layered with sheer organdy. Delicate, mysterious, and beautiful in a way that is somehow both intricate and simple. That's one I'd like to own.

New pictures up at my place.

Cheers!

keeyit said...

Ancient building. Very nice pictures. The world is full of great old fashioned buildings.

Mine is up.
http://www.keeyit.com/index.php/2008/01/25/photo-hunter-old-fashioned/

Happy weekend :P

NaNcY said...

very enjoyable sequence. close to your heart.

Sandi McBride said...

As I was reared on Rudyard Kipling by a fanatical Grandmother (she was a teacher) I always felt as though I had been to India...perhaps in a former life...the pictures you have posted are exquisite, I must say. They made me feel at home. And Happy Australia Day.
Sandi

kate said...

Those are wonderful pictures - the vegetation complements the VM well. I was trying to see if there were any blooming plants about, but it wasn't obvious.

Helena said...

Beautiful photo's! I love the one in the car window! Slick!

I finally managed to post some, too! And managed some writing, first in a while. Hope you get a mo to have a wee look!

dipali said...

Hi David, visiting from Sue's blog. The photographs are lovely , and the last one is simply amazing:)

Bubba's Sis said...

All those photos are beautiful! You have an excellent eye - I especially love the last one.

Happy Australia Day!

PastorMac's Ann said...

Wow what an amazing place and your photos are terrific. That last one - double wow! Great choice for our theme this week. Thanks for the tour!

cathy said...

Great pics of a beautiful place.

Amrita said...

I visited it when i was in school. I still remember it so well. Very impressive building

I 've got 2 videos on my blog for the Indian Republic Day

Hootin' Anni said...

This was absolutely breathtaking David!!!! I love the photos. I especially like the composition of the 'rear view mirror'....wow, impressive.

My 'old fashioned' is posted, hope you can drop by and visit with me too, I love visitors!!!

Dragonheart & Merlin said...

Lovely photos! :) That first photo is just beautiful, as is the Memorial. Wonderful choice for this week's Hunt. :)

Yenny said...

WOW! Beautiful photos of a beautiful place!

napaboaniya said...

Happy Aussie Day!
That's a pretty cool friend to have driven you around while you took pictures :)
Its Not a Weekend;It's a Lifestyle

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

I particularly like the photograph of the image in the wing mirror. Beautiful, David.

genny said...

Wow its beautiful. Where is that Calcutta? hmm intereting.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Wonderful, David! I so enjoy exploring the world and seeing in photos what I shall never see in person. Thank you.

Randi said...

Thank you for the tour!
Those are beautiful photographs and perfect for the theme.
I love the first one most.
Happy Australia Day!

Utah Mommy said...

Wow that's really really cool! I love to see that place with my naked eyes lol! Happy weekend~

Julie said...

- minor aviation nut-fest over at mine (a few pics taken at a GAVA day at the Imperial War Museum)....

ellen b. said...

Boy thank you for this wonderful tour through your camera lens! Beautiful shots...

Autumn said...

Fabulous shots David. I would love to see it one day!

Nessa said...

I love all of the different views.

Cuckoo said...

Hi David,

You are a wonderful photographer and an narrator as well. Though I am an Indian, never been to Kolkata. Seeing it through your posts.
I particularly liked the last shot.

Thanks for sharing.

Middle Ditch said...

Wow ... This is one building I would love to see. Love the shot in your side mirror.

Just saw it ... Happy Australia Day. Why?

Posted a new episode.

Heather said...

Such beautiful shots for this week.

K M F said...

beautifull images

Moosekahl said...

A beautiful series, thanks for sharing it.

Rebecca said...

I love those. I really like the last one. :)

Sue said...

Very nice, really very nice.

I linked to your Vintage Car Rally writeup, did you notice? The one in The Statesman site.

zakscloset said...

so beautiful with so much details! i want that gate in front of my house :^)

leslie said...

As usual, great shots. And something else to look forward to seeing if/when I make it to Australia.

Akelamalu said...

What a beautiful building - thanks for sharing your photographs of it David.

Happy Australia Day!

Dragonstar said...

Yet again blogging educates me. A lovely collection of shots, and that last one is perfect.

Am'n2deep said...

Amazing pictures! I actually FELT them. Thank you.

Vic, the Cariboo Ponderer said...

Beautiful photos David, I have traveled to many place in the world but not India, it looks to be a very interesting place.

Dawn said...

Wow, those are wonderful pictures. The Victoria Memorial is just so majestic. Lovely. Thanks for the pictures.

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...simply amazing!

Zathyn Priest said...

The marble palace is stunning! I've always been fascinated with the Victorian era. Love the angel weather vane and the photographs are beautiful.

mistyeiz said...

what lovely shots!!! :) n a wonderful write up too. thanks for sharing.

Rachael said...

Wow those photo's are stunning. Calcutta is a place I would love to visit as it is where my Grandfather was born and raised. x

shooting star said...

beautiful pics..i have been to victoria memorial a couple of times during my trips to kolkata...it is one of the few things i like about the city....it is indeed a fine piece of colonial architecture...and looks very grand...and fortunately has been well preserved.....