The incredible Victoria Memorial is a vast, beautifully proportioned festival of white marble: think US Capitol meets Taj Mahal. Had it been built for a beautiful Indian princess rather than a colonial queen, this domed beauty flanking the southern end of the Maidan would surely be considered one of India’s greatest buildings. Commissioned by Lord Curzon, then Viceroy of India, it was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria’s demise in 1901, but construction wasn’t completed until 20 years after her death.
Inside, highlights are the soaring central chamber and the Calcutta Gallery, an excellent, even-handed exhibition tracing the city’s colonial-era history. Even if you don’t want to go in, the building is still worth admiring from afar: there are magnificently photogenic views across reflecting ponds from the northeast and northwest. Or you can get closer by paying your way into the large, well-tended gardens, open from dawn to dusk. Entrance is from the north or south gates (with ticket booths at both).
The east gate is exit-only by day, but on winter evenings, enter here for the 45-minute English-language sound-and-light-show. Tickets available from 5pm. Show seating is outside and uncovered. There are no shows in summer.