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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus/Victoria Terminus – Proud Heritage of Mumbai


Victoria Terminus, Mumbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai during the day

This post was featured as a ‘Spicy Saturday Pick’ by BlogAdda.

Spicy Saturday Pick on 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.

Chhatrapati Shivaji or Victoria Terminus at night

Chhatrapati Shivaji or Victoria Terminus at night

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.

BMC building and Victoria Terminus

BMC building and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai

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.

 Where Queen Victoria's statue should have been is just the wall niche

Notice the empty niche where Queen Victoria’s statue was placed – it went missing from VT

A stone lioness stands guard at Victoria Terminus

A stone lioness stands guard at Chhatrapati Shivaji/Victoria Terminus – what was she doing when the statue went missing?

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.

Clock on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus/VT facade

Clock on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus/VT facade

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.

A peacock lattice at CST

A peacock lattice at Victoria Terminus

A lion carved on a pillar at the Chhatrapati Shivaji/Victoria Terminus - seems to be asking 'What are you staring at, huh?'

A lion carved on a pillar at the Chhatrapati Shivaji/Victoria Terminus – seems to be asking ‘What are you lookin’ at, huh?’

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.

There are statues representing Commerce, Agriculture, Engineering and Science on the CST exterior - am not sure which one this is

There are statues representing Commerce, Agriculture, Engineering and Science on the CST exterior – am not sure which one this is

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 –

Board outside the Heritage Museum at Chhatrapati Shivaji/Victoria Terminus shows details of the heritage tour

Board outside the Heritage Museum at Chhatrapati Shivaji/Victoria Terminus shows details of the heritage tour

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

 

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23 Comments

  1. Notice the empty niche where Queen Victoria’s statue was placed – it went missing from VT : I am equally intrigued. You may get more DATA (and perhaps a photo (not available in Public Domain)), from Mr Rajendra Akalelkar (Reporter and Author of Book THE HALT STATION. His email_id is Rajendra B. Aklekar” ). A Photo taken 1911 showing the statue of Queen is available in Public Domain at https://www.google.co.in/search?q=CST++Railway+Station+Photo+Black+and+white&biw=1366&bih=610&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CBoQsARqFQoTCOazzoWI4McCFZYDjgodc50Dog#imgrc=oEvTnHeDByECdM%3A

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometime, looking at your photography makes me wonder that how it is possible to capture a crowded place like Mumbai beautifully. Thanks for sharing your another wonderful work with us. Mumbai is always an awesome place to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. k. ganesh

    super pix of a familiar icon, didn’t know there is so much to it, lovely capture of detail ,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. As I said, when I was working used to pass in and out of the building without looking at anything. There are guided tours of the building too now – will put that detail in now.

      Like

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