Remember the scene in the film Jai Ho song of Slumdog Millionaire where Latika meets Jamal in a train station? The station showed there was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Though not much of the station was in focus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), in Mumbai, Maharashtra is one of the oldest, busiest and beautiful stations in India which is also the headquarters for Central Railways. Named after the Marathi Emperor Chatrapati Shivaji, the station is unique in its architectural features and was designed in the lines of Victorian Italianate Gothic revival architecture by British architect Frederick William Stevens. It was built in 1887 in Mumbai’s Bori Bunder area to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Accorded by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, CSMT is much more than just a busy railway station.
History behind CSMT
The Bori bunder railway station, the original station was rebuilt and named as Victoria Terminus in 1887 and it took ten years to complete the construction. With time 9 platforms increased to 18 platforms and several other side portions and buildings as well as new main-lines were constructed in keeping with the design of the main build.
The station is the terminus of a large number of long distance and inter-city trains of Central line and Harbour line which traverses every day and night.
Change of name
After bearing the name Victoria Terminus for nearly a century, the station name was changed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in the year 1996 and again was changed into Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus(CSMT) in 2017.
About the interiors and exteriors
The fact that a railway station can portray art and be the point of interest is demonstrated none other than CST. A mixture of classical Indian and Victorian Italianate Goth influences every portion. From proportioned doors and windows, Skyline, arches to wood carvings, balustrades for the staircase, grills were made in reference to Indian palace designs and some were done by art students of Sri Jamshedji Jijibhoy school of art. A central dome represents the office area and there is a 300-foot-long platform and 1200-foot long train shed. The Centreless dovetailed ribs, high ceilinged interior office rooms, intricate jaali work, spiraling staircase, every inch of CST is meticulously planned. The central dome is octagonal in shape with a figurine of a lady(iconic statue of Queen Victoria, reportedly missing since 2015) holding a torch and a wheel. Built with Indian Limestones and sandstones, the terminus is beautifully decorated with Italian marble, high-polished Indian bluestones and glazed tiles acquired from renowned British companies.
Among many finely sculpted and curved pillars and statues, the Lion and tiger figures at the entrance gate representing Great Britain and India respectively adds to the grandeur of CSMT.
The architect was given a massive sum of 23000 US dollars for this magnificent work.
CSMT Railway Heritage Museum
CSMT also has a museum in its premises which display old railway engine and other collections in connection with Indian Railways such as old telephones, crockery, brass bells etc. There is also an arrangement for guided tours from Monday to Friday all around this magnanimous architectural gem. If you have a soft corner for history and architecture, CSMT is a must visit in case you are in Mumbai.
The Unforgettable Sad event
CSMT witnessed the tragic loss of 58 lives and 104 injured people when two terrorists open fired and attacked with grenades inside the station on November 26, 2008. After nearly 90 minutes of battle with police, 1 terrorist named Kasab was caught alive and hanged till death in 2012 in accordance to court ruling after prosecution with evidence from platform CCTV footage.
Featured Photo by Christian Haugen