Celebrating 125 Years Of Mumbai’s Iconic Landmark, The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

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The then Victoria Terminus. Image by bharatexpedition.com

It is the first place that comes to mind when you think of Mumbai; the first destination on every tourist’s itinerary and the premier landmark that depicts the filmy hero’s arrival in Mumbai. The iconic railway station, known to one and all, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), completes 125 years this month. Celebrating the grandeur of this structure we take you on a journey of its historic evolution in the city of Mumbai.

The astounding edifice was built as the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, the predecessors of the Central Railway. The construction began in 1878 in the Bori Bunder area and took a decade to complete. It was formally opened in 1887 to commemorate the Queen Victoria’s fiftieth birthday and named ‘Victoria Terminus’.

Influences of Indian design. Image by ritesnap.com

Designer Frederick William Stevens was commissioned for the job. He created a confluence of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Mughal buildings in this glorious structure. Sir John Lockwood Kipling and his students from J.J. School of Art were responsible for the Indian designs in the structure. The Indian influence is inimitable in the peacocks, tigers and verandas. The St. Pancras Station in London is said to be F W Stevens chief inspiration whilst designing. There were also rumors that the design of the then Victoria Terminus was originally designated for Flinders Street Station in Melbourne but there has been no concrete proof on the same.

Commemorative stamp. Image by desipedia.com

In 1988, a special stamp and postal cover of the structure was released to mark its centenary. The name of the station was changed from Victoria Terminus to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in March 1996. CST also holds a position of pride in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as of 2004. It also serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways in Mumbai.

The Railway Museum was inaugurated inside the CST building in 2010. The museum houses replicas of original drawings by F W Stevens, photographs and documents from archives, artifacts and miniature models of engines.

Heritage Gallery at CST. Image by designstories.ning.com

In December 2012, the heritage building of CST was opened for public viewing through which visitors can see the heritage gallery, the star chamber, the grand staircase lounge on second floor of the building and the forecourt. Central Railway employees or volunteers from the J. J. College of Architecture take you on a guided tour at an entry fee of Rs 100 for students and Rs.200 for other visitors.

Very recently, the Central Railway logo on the facade of the CST building was taken off as per current railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s instructions. He was of the view that the logo was detrimental to the heritage beauty of the building.

A shot from Slumdog Millionaire at CST. Image by cinelatino.com

The magnificent station had witnessed key events as they happen, be it in reel or real life. The shoots of many films including Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Swades and the Academy award winner, Slumdog Millionaire have taken place here. CST has also bared the brunt of the horrifying terrorist attacks in 2008 when two terrorists opened fire at commoners at the station. But it has stood strong through it all. CST has 18 platforms – six are for locals trains and 12 are for long distance. Every day over four million people commute through this station.

As Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus completes 125 years of an almost royal existence, a variety of events including an exhibition have been lined up. This celebration is part of the Railway Week festivities held every year during mid – April. Railway Week, celebrated across the country, is a tribute  to the first train that was run in India between Bori Bunder and Thane station on April 16th, 1853. The CST station was illuminated amidst much fanfare to commemorate this day on 16th April, last week.

CST station has been an epitome of pride for the city of Mumbai and continues to be so with every passing year. Kudos to its 125th year of stupendous existence!

What are your memories of CST station. Write to us at [email protected] or comment below.

Post By Esha Verma (33 Posts)

Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.

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Esha Verma

Esha Verma
Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.