Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The historical statue of Queen Victoria, Visagapatnam needs urgent repairs

Queen Victoria's statue, Vizag (in Old town)  Picssr
Queen Victoria's statue is always impressive, to be precise, majestic, befitting her highest royal status as  head of the British Empire. The statue wearing a royal regalia and a crown with an orb in hand will never fail to grab our attention because, being a royal head, she was  vested with enormous powers and entrusted with the responsibility of ruling over a vast land, an Empire that never saw the Sunset. In this transient world, everything is happening so fast. political leadership and monarchy are no exception to it. To day, the British Royalty is highly respected, but the present Queen's  regal powers are  restricted to the minimum, as a result, the Queen has become a mere head, just a torch bearer of British Royalty and their tradition, annually drawing a sizable money as dole from the British Government to maintain her palaces, paraphernalia, personal expenses, etc. 

Coming back to the statue of Queen Victoria, the one at Visagapatnam is so neglected and there is no semblance of  government doing any periodic repairs. The Queen Victoria's statues at other places in India are fairly being maintained. The Queen Victoria pavilion at Vizag  is a heritage monument and needs urgent attention. The problem is two fold; people do not keep this place clean and the other being air-pollution caused by coal dust from the near by port. If these are controlled, situation will improve and save the statue from further damage.

It is an accepted fact that in India both politicians and the people  do not give importance to the monuments or memorials  that they deserve. Monuments  are the only objective links with our past history that need careful preservation so that the next generation of people will be in touch with our past history.  The word negligence has crept into  thousands of  monuments of grandeur and beauty across India.  Countless old temples, churches, mosques, colonial structures come under this category. 
notice board near Queen Victoria's  statue,
As for the Victoria statue in Vizag, it was erected on 4th May 1904  in a small enclosure with a roof over it and is just across the Post Office in Old Town or One Town also called Soldierpetta, where in the early colonial era predominantly British community (mostly soldiers) lived there. Sri Akitam Venkata Jagga Row, a zamindar, from this area, on a visit to England in 1900, received this beautifully made  bronze statue of Queen Victoria, a gift to the town of Visakhapatnam. The original statue had a scepter in hand which is missing now. The disgusting fact is, the surrounding area is filthy, often used as a parking space for the motor vehicles on one side and the other side has become a garbage dump where the stray dogs have a field day rummaging through the left-over food. To cap it all, the statue is covered with layers of soot and  coal dust coming from the near by cargo ships in the port area.  It has become so black, you will mistake it for a black stone image. The circular fence with grill is rusted and looks as if it has not seen the paint coat for decades.
According to a member of the INTACH, weeds grown in and around the structure were  removed in April  2016 and in the same year sandblasting of the statue was done. Nothing has moved further and the scenario is back to square one. When we keep losing monuments one by one, our history will have too many holes and it is not good for a country. 


The statue of Queen Victoria is located in the following places in India:
Bangalore city, Karnataka : Cubbon Park (1906)     Sculptor: Thomas Brock.
Kolkata:  01. Victoria Memorial (1921). Sculptor:  Thomas Brock,  02. Victoria Memorial (1901), Sculptor: George Frampton, 03. Indian Museum (1875), Sculptor:  Marshall Wood
Mathura: Government museum (year and sculptor, not known)
Chennai: Madras University - Southern side of the University (1887), Sculptor nor known.

Vizagapatam: Old Town, near State Bank of India Building (1904), Sculptor not known