This post was featured as a ‘Spicy Saturday Pick’ by BlogAdda.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), or Victoria Terminus (VT) as it’s still commonly known, is one of Mumbai’s landmarks and in fact, the face of the city to over 3 million commuters that travel on the Central Railway network daily.
(To understand Mumbai’s local train network see this link to Mumbai’s suburban railway system)
For those wondering why the dual nomenclature, the building was christened Victoria Terminus and so it remained till 1996 when Railway Minister Suresh Kalmadi changed its name to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in honour of the Maratha warrior.
Given the long hours spent at work and in the commute, this is the only building that several Mumbaikars get in and out of on week days, apart from home and office.
In the blur that life in the city is, most either don’t notice or just fail to appreciate the architectural beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even as visitors take selfies and foreign tourists aim cameras at various angles, the regulars swiftly walk past, dodging vendors, policemen and stray dogs. I used to do the same when I was working in that area.
With time on my hands now, I decided to take a look at this magnificent structure designed by architect Frederick William Stevens and built by countless Indian labourers, whose names we will never know.
The building was initially named after Queen Victoria, then Empress of India, commemorating her Golden Jubilee.
Sadly, her statue that was placed at the front and center of the structure mysteriously disappeared and left just the niche behind as testimony of the vandalism.
Victoria Terminus was opened to the public in 1887 under the auspices of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.
So this clock has been ticking for a long time now and is still accurate to set watches by.
The Lady of Progress on the exterior offers relief to those who have had enough of gargoyles and such.
While the Gothic Revival style of architecture is the cornerstone of design, you can see touches of Indian influence in the form of peacocks in lattices and lions on pillars. Wikipedia tells me that the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture is at work here.
The ceiling, which looks beautiful even now, is said to have been painted gold, blue and red originally.
While CST or VT (whatever you choose to call it) is imposing by day, it comes alive when lit up on special occasions like the Indian Independence Day (August 15). I do hope you are able to catch it on one of those special days.
If you’re around the Terminus next time, you could also take a look at the Heritage Museum, which is placed next to the main building. The guided tour is available Monday-Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm. You can find the other details in the picture below –
If you wish to read more about this unique site, here are the links – Wikipedia link
and UNESCO link
My readers seem to have liked this post quite a bit and one of them, Suneel, told me about Mr. Rajendra Aklekar, who is Author of ‘Halt Station India’, a popular book on Mumbai railway, India’s 1st train line.
I am adding a link here a link to Mr. Aklekar’s interesting blog post which talks about the evolution of the Indian railways – click here for the link