Thursday, 30 July 2015

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Terminus), Mumbai - India's oldest railway station

Chatrapati Shivaji terminus Victoria terminus. pompei-hotels.com

The British during their rule in India in the 1800s and 1900s built several well designed buildings for administrative purpose and churches that still stand as silent spectators of their legacy and hey day in India. During the British Raj, England was a prosperous nation because they got vast revenue from the Indian subcontinent. However, their era of power and prosperity as a mighty British Empire had begun the down hill journey once they left the shores of India in August, 1947. These buildings poignantly remind the younger generations of India's past history and how their forefathers fought against the British to breath the fresh air of freedom.

The Victoria terminus was renamed as Chatrapati Shivaji terminus in March 1996 after the great Maratha leader Chatrapati Shivaji who fought against the Moguls. This station has been listed in the World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Isn't it surprising that the location that sees hundreds of thousands pass through each day has a rich and historic past!

A Gothic masterpiece and one of India's largest and oldest railway stations, Chatrapati Shivaji terminus was earlier known as the "Victoria terminus" or more popularly as VT. The stained glass windows, domed archways, gigantic spires and ramparts and pillars with pictures of animals engraved on them hold special interest for every visitor. The Indian design and Victorian Gothic architecture have been mixed well  to showcase the revival of the Victorian Gothic architecture in India. Designed by  Frederick William Stevens, British architect with influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian buildings. The station was built in 1887 in the  Bori Bunder area - (a place where sacks were stored) of Mumbai to commemorate the  Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Hence the name Victoria Terminus.  Steven's design of this famous, historical building was  based on the model of the St Pancras station in London that gave him a lot of inspiration.

Chatrapati Shivaji terminus (previously) Victoria terminus. en.wikipedia.org

The Great Indian Peninsula Railway, privately owned Railroad Company operated the historic first passenger train  service in India on 16 April, 1853  from Bori Bunder to Thane (a distance of 34 km (21 mi). Construction for the railway station began in the year 1878 and lasted for ten whole years. The front elevation of this building, the noteworthy stone domes, the skyline, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan towers, and peculiar floor  and building  plan closely resemble that of a conventional Indian palace architecture.  This building was the headquarters  of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. 

Only in 1929 a new station was added along with auxillary buildings to handle additional traffic including suburban services. To day it is being used by three million people daily. It is the administrative HQ of South Central railways. owned by the Government of India.
Front portion Chatrapati Shivaji terminus Victoria terminus. en.wikipedia.org
Tourists from all over the world on a trip to Mumbai visit  this place, an epitome of architectural wonder.  The other attractions in this place are the British lion and the Indian tiger that stand as guard at the entrance. The outer surface is bedecked with figurines and statuettes,- this  work  was carried out at the Bombay art school by Indian students of John Lockwood Kipling. Among them are bizarre fabled beasts, monkeys, pendants of key personalities and plants.

Stained glasses decorated with locomotives and elephant images are really captivating. One may be thrilled by the 160 feet tall dome at the center of the building. Atop the dome there is a figure of a woman holding a torch. There are four gateways to the main entrance and there is a fine-looking ornamental garden on one side of the rectangular area, the rest being administrative offices. The centrally domed office structure has a 330 feet long platform connected to a 1,200 feet long train shed, and its outline provides the skeleton plan for building. CST's dome of dovetailed ribs, built without centering, was considered as a novel achievement of the era. Externally, the wood carving, tiles, ornamental iron and brass railings, grills for the ticket offices, the balustrades for the grand staircases and other ornaments were the work of students at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art. CST has 18 platforms - 7 are for local trains and 11 are for long distance.

Ref: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chhatrapati_Shivaji_Terminus