London’s links with India are being celebrated this autumn. New exhibitions as well as the launch of a film about Queen Victoria and her Indian Secretary highlight these historic links.
Out on East London, the Museum of Docklands has some fascinating displays showing how London became the major port of Victoria’s Empire, creating the gateway through which trade with India developed.
Not too far from elegant Presidential Marylebone Mayfair, The British Museum is staging a special virtual pilgrimage on India’s Great Shrine of Amarvaveti within its Asahi Shimbun Display rooms. Later this year, it will be reopening a South Asian permanent gallery which features a new display telling the story of India from pre-history to the present day.
Over at the Science Museum in South Kensington, the Illuminating India season offers a fascinating look into photography in India from the nineteenth century to the present day, as well as a look at celebrating scientific thought and innovation in India. The neighboring Natural History Museum has a stunning collection of Indian art showing animals and flowers commissioned by officials working for the East India Company during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For richer experience, try booking serviced apartments Central London to avoid spending fare on travelling.
Not to be forgotten is the V&A museum with its extensive collections of furniture and artifacts from India. One of its most famous objects is the unusual Ipu’s Tiger. This almost life-size semi-automation shows a tiger mauling a European soldier.
These three Kensington based museums were the initiative of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert who was intent on making knowledge about the world around us more widely available. The V&A museum was opened by Queen Victoria after his death.
Queen Victoria was fascinated with India. Her home at Cowes on the Isle of Wight contains some amazing Indian decorated rooms. She is closely linked to many places in London such as Kensington Palace where she was born. This is reflected in the exhibition Victoria Revealed, based on her journals. It is a fascinating, intimate account of her life. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey, and lived at Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle just a short distance out of London was one of her favourite homes. All of these locations would have been well known to her Indian Secretary, Abdul Karim.
Yet none were used for the location filming of Victoria & Abdul. Instead, book any of the Aparthotels London and take a look at Ham House in Richmond, which was one of the settings used for filming. An amazing place, it is a very imposing place – and even has the reputation of being haunted. The sound of footsteps and the scent of roses have been known to occur unexpectedly around the house.