West Bengal Tour Information
As a tribute to Queen Victoria, this was built 1921, of marble and the whole edifice is a strange mixture of Mughal and European architecture conceived by Lord Curzon, its foundation stone was laid in 1906 by Prince of Wales. A broad avenue sweeps to it and in the middle of the avenue, on a high marble pedestal is the imposing statue of Queen Victoria. Facing it in the black marble is the statue of Lord Curzon. Inside the museum, in the galleries, a rich collection of colonial times—armors, weapons, medals, coins, etc.—is on display. Inside again there is Queen Victoria, done in white marble, much younger, shimmer and her hair looped in braids over her ears. There is also a rose wood piano which Queen Victoria played as a young girl, and other memorabilia.
The Birla Planetarium
It is a fine and very big planetarium built after the Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi. Showing the various movements simulated of the planets, daily shows are held here inside the air-conditioned hall and it costs Rs. 5 for admission.
Built in 1799-l805,Raj Bhawanat the extreme north of the Maidan, is now the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal. During the Raj time it was occupied by the Governor General of Bengal Lord Wellesley: It is an imitation of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire in England. Raj Bhawan is famous for its lavishly decorated rooms, the marble hail with the bust of 12 Caesars, a pair of sphinxes and many rare items of art including Tipu Sultan’s throne. Entry into it is restricted. Nearby is the High Court, built in 1872 in Gothic style and modelled after Standhus at Ypres. Belgium.
The Writer’s Building
The majestic Writer’s Building built in Gothic style in 1780, stands with its rows of Ionic pillars and groups of statue on one side of the Dalhousie Square, now rechristened as B.B.D. Bagh. Originally ii housed the offices of the “Writers of the Company”. These Writers’ were none other than the clerks of the East India Company. It has since been enlarged and now houses the West Bengal Secretariat.
The Indian National Library
Right next to the Zoological Garden is the famous Indian National Library housed in a former vice regal lodge. It is the country’s largest national library and contains an excellent collection of over 10 million books.
The Marble Palace
Near Chitraranjan Avenue, amidst narrow streets, lies the Marble Palace, a family residence of the Mullicks. The palace stands in a large peaceful garden of Palladian dimensions and houses a rich treasure of rare and costly paintings. Closely at Chitpur, off Rabindra Sarani is the house where Rabindranath Tagore was born and where he died in 1941. It is now a university, a grand centre of Indian Fine Arts and is known as Rabindra Bharati.
The Indian Museum
The Indian Museum of Chowringhee is the largest the richest in the country. Also known as ‘Jadughar’, it was built in 1875. There are fascinating fossils, archaeological and anthropological objects on view besides very valuable geological, zoological and botanical treasures.
The Botanical Gardens
On the West bank of the Hooghly at Sibpur(8 km.) are located the sprawling Botanical Gardens founded in 1786. These stretch over 270 acres of land along the river front. The gardens are famous for its herbarium containing 40,000 species. The 500-year old Banyan tree with its 88ft. height, 1,200 feet circumference and as many as 600 adventitious roots is the star attraction here. This is supposed to be the biggest banyan tree in the world. It is said that the whole army of Sher Shah Sun camped under this one tree in 1550’s.
The Zoological Gardens
South of the Maidan lies the Zoological Garden amidst 16.5 hectares of a well laid out park. It was started in 1876 and houses many species of birds and animals. The cages of the big catsroyal Bengal tigers, white tigers, and crossbred lions are of special interest.
Parasnath Jain Temple
Of the four Jain temples built in 1867, the main one dedicated to Shitalnath ji, the tenth Tirthankar o the Jams, is most famous. The profusion of ornate mass of mirrors, colored crystal chandeliers, precious stones and glass mosaics make it quite and enchanting place.
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