The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is a historic railway station in Mumbai and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The station was built in the Bori Bunder area of Mumbai to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It is an outstanding example of Victorian-Gothic style of architecture in India. It serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways. Built in 1888, the building structure has been designed by Frederick William Stevens. It is a beautiful blend of Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles. This late-19th-century railway terminus is a reminder of British Raj pre-independence and is still one of the most iconic landmarks within the city. It is one of the busiest railway stations in India, serving as a terminal for both long-distance trains and commuter trains. The name of the station was changed from Victoria Terminus (VT) to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in March 1996 in honour of the founder of Maratha Empire, Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji.
HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE-
The construction of the building began in May 1878 (139 years ago) and it was completed 10 years later in 1888.
It was the longest time taken by any building of that era in Bombay. It was built in the honor of the Queen Victoria on her Golden Jubilee in 1887. Designed by the British architect F.W. Stevens, the city was named as the ‘Gothic City’ due to this magnificent building’s architectural styles.
The main architecture of the building highlights reflects the High Victorian Gothic styles. The building exhibits a fusion of influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and classical Indian architecture. The remarkable skyline, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to classical Indian palace architecture. This grand structure has been a key witness to the city flourishing into the financial capital of the country. At the time, the building was the most expensive structure in Mumbai costing 260,000 Sterling Pounds. The Lion and Tiger figures at the entrance of the terminus represent the countries Britain and India respectively.
The statue on top of the central dome of the building is called the ‘Statue of Progress’, with a spoke wheel in her left hand and a torch in the right. Other statues that surround the central Progress statue are statue of Agriculture, Engineering & Science, Shipping & Commerce, the three integral elements of the British Empire’s progress back then.
It is also a fact that, Many of the sculptures on the exterior of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus were made by Indian students of JJ School of Arts in Mumbai, under the guidance of John Lockwood Kipling, author Rudyard Kipling’s father.
North Wing, known as the Star Chamber, which is still used as the booking office, is embellished with Italian marble and polished Indian blue stone. The ceiling of the booking hall was originally painted blue, gold and strong red on a ground of rich blue with gold stars. Its walls were lined with glazed tiles made by Maw & Co of Britain.
CST is the India’s second most photographed building. It has been a treat to the eyes of foreign tourists with elegant architecture which reminds them of some architectural marvels in their own land. CST is said to be motivated by the architecture of St. Pancras station, London.
They do have a Guided Heritage Tour through the main central building of the station, visiting the railway museum, the central dome and all the way to the top.
To visit the Heritage Museum at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Station, the entrance is in the right wing of the building, near the bus stands. The tickets priced at INR 200; INR 100 for students. It is open on weekdays only, and closed on public holidays, timings are 3.00 pm-5.00 pm.