Darya Firasti

Grandeur of a Rail Terminus

This grand victorian revival gothic building is a world heritage monument. It is linked with not only the history of rail mobility in India but even today a major hub of the Indian railway network. The Central Railway operates a special gallery to give us a glimpse of the glorious past and the architectural grandeur of this grand building. Let’s take a visual journey to know more.

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This projection by Alex Herman Haig was used effectively to pass the design and raise funds for this grand railway station in the late 19th century. It is absolutely true to the design except for the standing lion and tiger on the gate (in reality they the sculptures are in sitting position)

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These interesting animals carved on the walls are quite interesting. We will see the flora and fauna theme repeating at several points in this building.

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Beautiful stained glass work and these coloured tiles have been preserved since the of time of inception of this monument. We come to the heritage museum within the administrative HQ of the Central Railway … which was known as the Great Indian Peninsular Railway earlier. We can see this museum from Monday to Friday between 2-5pm with Rs. 200 ticket fee. But this is completely worth the moolah for the sheer majestic experience.

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There are some neatly preserved artifacts here. Train models, old cutlery and many more things. But I was most impressed with this watch that runs on pressure created by a 500gm weight.

Apart from interesting stained glass motifs that show the GIPR logo and the locomotive. There are old advertisements of various train services operated in the eras gone by. I loved the Deccan Queen advert.. One could travel right into west Punjab which now belongs to Pakistan.

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Well! the interior design of the ticket window has changed … but location is still the same. And there was this interesting image that has 3 Indian PMs in one frame …Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first PM with Lal Bahadur Shastri ji … India’s strong PM attending a railway event … the child is Rajiv Gandhi ji .. India’s young PM.

At the entrance there is this huge lion with English coat of arms and the railway locomotive insignia. Another interesting feature is the gryffindor with a spear guarding the building against evil spirits.

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The flora and fauna theme repeats on various walls and columns and it brings in an element of Indianness through these patterns. Especially the peacock.

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The neo gothic theme brings in some interesting features like the gargoyles that were meant as outlet for rainwater and the two big cats in the entrance. The lion signifying British interests and the tiger representing India.

The wrought iron work in the building is delicate, ornate and very refined in craftsmanship and experts believe that it was made in India. There is Italian marble adorning several columns and under the central octagonal dome a cantilevered staircase which is strengthened by a 7 feet thick wall.

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The massive octagonal dome … more than 40 meters in height changed the skyline of Mumbai city and made an immense impact on the aesthetics of the urban design in that epoch. It has eight dovetailed ribs supporting from inside and outside and mughal style squinches were used to graduate from four face walls to 8 face walls.

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Typical of the gothic style, there are several rose windows in the building. The facade of the building has various ornamentations and bas relief figures of the directors of the GIPR company. At three different levels, the geometry of arches is different. The cylindrical projections contain toilets that are functional even today. The booking hall remains at the same location and has fantastic teak wood roof, still retaining its grandeur.

On the top of the dome we see 14 meter tall lady of progress. Which has stood for over a hundred years seeing Mumbai evolve.

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more on Gothic buildings in Mumbai some other day …

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