Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (station code: CSMT) and also known by its former name Victoria Terminus is a historic terminal train station in Mumbai, India.
It has the status and legal protection of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The terminus was designed by British born architectural engineer Frederick William Stevens, in an exuberant Italian Gothic style.
Construction began in 1878 south of the old Bori Bunder railway station and was completed in 1887 marking 50 years of Queen Victoria’s rule. In her honour the building was named Victoria Terminus.
The name of the station was changed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (station code CST) in March 1996 to honour Shivaji, the 17th-century founder of the Maratha Empire.
Shivaji is often preceded by Chhatrapati which is a royal title, but in 2017 the station was again renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (code CSTM), where Maharaj is also a royal title.
The headquarters of India’s Central Railway presides in the terminus and is one of the busiest railway stations in India. It serves as a terminal for both long-distance- and suburban trains.
The famous landmark was built as the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway and became a symbol of the city’s power and trade wealth.
It was built to replace the Bori Bunder railway station in Bombay which was a prominent port and warehouse area known for its imports and exports. At the time Bombay had grown to become a major port city and a bigger station was required to meet its demands.
Specifically, it linked India’s network of smaller lines and stations to Europe through the port of Bombay and the Suez Canal. This dramatically eased the trade of goods and raw materials, and the movement of British soldiers and administrators throughout the subcontinent.
The station was named Victoria Terminus, after the then reigning Empress of India, Queen Victoria.
During its construction, a marble statue of Queen Victoria was installed on the face of the building in a canopy under the clock. However, in the 1950s following a directive from the Indian Government, authorities had begun to remove statues of British figures from government buildings and public spaces. Most of the statues, including that of Queen Victoria, were sent to Victoria Gardens (later renamed Rani Baug) where they were left lying on the grass well into the 1980’s.
It is believed the statue of Queen Victoria was either sold by politicians, smuggled out of the country or destroyed as it has never been seen since.
Work began in 1878 and took 10 years to complete. The architectural engineer Fredrick William Stevens received ₹1,614,000 (US$23,000) as the payment for his services and is based on watercolour sketch by draughtsman Axel Haig. The style of the station is also similar to other public buildings of the 1870s in Bombay, such as the Elphinstone College but especially the buildings of Bombay University designed by G G Scott.
The station has been renamed several times.
It was built to replace the modest Bori Bunder terminus which was the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and was named Victoria Terminus.
In 1996, the station was renamed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in honour of Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire.
In 2016, the Modi Ministry passed a resolution to change the name again of Terminus and in May 2017 the home ministry officially sent a letter to the state government denoting the name change and it was renamed as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
This station is an outstanding example of high Victorian Gothic Architectural splendour fused with the themes derived from Indian Traditional Architecture.
The engineering magnificence of its stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground layout are close to traditional Indian palace design and a fusion of Gothic expressions of Victorian Britain. It is an outstanding example of the two cultures, as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen and designers to forge a new style unique to the area.
The dome is a unique feature as never before had a dome been mixed with turrets and spires of a Gothic design.
It was put there as a symbol of power and dominance as the 330 feet high dome rose into the sky and could be seen from a ship arriving at Bombay Harbour.
It could be seen from vast stretches of land south of the terminus as well as open parks in the Fort area.
The grandeur of the Victoria Terminus was meant to inspire awe among the population as well as British administrators, soldiers and settlers and gave the British Empire something of a status similar to the Roman Empire centuries earlier. And of course this is what many architects and nobles wanted to create; buildings that would last centuries and be remembered for centuries as being built by the power and engineering excellence of the British.
The Terminus is one of the major railway stations in the Metropolis of Mumbai and is used daily by over 3 million commuters. Initially built with 4 railway tracks, the terminus now services 7 suburban tracks and 11 separate out-station tracks.
This has led to much restructuring of the surroundings, plus the addition of new buildings. However, Indian Railways are working to decongest the terminus and re-route some of the traffic to other stations.