Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly Victoria Terminus, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and historic railway station which serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways in Mumbai, India.
Designed by Frederick William Stevens with influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and Indian (Mughal and Hindu) traditional buildings, the station was built in 1887 in the Bori Bunder area of Bombay to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The new railway station was built on the location of the Bori Bunder Station and is the busiest railway station in India, serving as both a terminal for long distance trains and commuter trains of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. The station's name was changed to its present one in March 1996 and is simply known as VT (or CST/CSTM).
Bori Bunder (alternatively "Bori Bandar") was one of the areas along the Eastern shore line of Mumbai, India which was used as a storehouse for goods imported and exported from Mumbai. In the area's name, 'Bori' mean sack and 'Bandar' means port or haven (in Persian); So Bori Bunder literally means a place where sacks are stored. In the 1850s, the Great Indian Peninsular Railway built its railway terminus in this area and the station took its name as Bori Bunder.On 16th April, 1853 the Great Indian Peninsula Railway operated the historic first passenger train in India from Bori Bunder to Thane covering a distance of 34 km, formally heralding the birth of the Indian Railways. The train between Bori Bunder and Thane was 57 minutes it was a distance of 35 km apart.
The station was eventually rebuilt as the Victoria Terminus, named after the then reigning Queen, and has been subsequently renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CSTM) after Maharashtra's and India's famed 17th century king. Though the shortened name is now CST, it still continues to be referred to as VT by the masses.
The station was designed by the consulting British architect Frederick William Stevens (1848-1900). Work began in 1878. He received INR1,614,000 (US$29,374.8) as the payment for his services. Stevens earned the commission to construct the station after a masterpiece watercolour sketch by draughtsman Axel Haig. The final design bears some resemblance to the St Pancras railway station in London. GG Scott's plans for Berlin's parliament building had been published four years before, and also has marked similarities to the station's design.
Opening and growth as Victoria Terminus
It took ten years to complete and was named "Victoria Terminus" in honour of the Queen and Empress Victoria; it was opened on the date of her Golden Jubilee in 1887. It cost £260,000 when it was finished in 1888, the highest for any building of that era in Bombay. This famous architectural landmark in a Gothic-revival style was built as the headquarters of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Since then, the station came to be known as Bombay VT.
Originally intended only to house the main station and the administrative offices of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, a number of ancillary buildings have been added subsequently, all designed so as to harmonise with the main structure. A new station to handle main line traffic was erected in 1929. The original building is still in use to handle suburban traffic and is used by over three million commuters daily. It is also the administrative headquarters of the Central Railway.
Renaming to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
In 1996, the Minister of Railways, Suresh Kalmadi, changed the name of the station to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in honour of the great Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. In 2008, the station was featured prominently in the Academy Award winning film, Slumdog Millionaire. In 1956, the station was also featured in the film C.I.D. during the song 'Yei Hai Bombay Meri Jaan'.
The station building was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style of architecture. The building exhibits a fusion of influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and traditional Indian architecture. The skyline, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. Externally, the wood carving, tiles, ornamental iron and brass railings, grills for the ticket offices, the balustrades for the grand staircases and other ornaments were the work of students at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art. The station stands as an example of 19th century railway architectural marvels for its advanced structural and technical solutions.
The VT was constructed using high level of engineering both in terms of railway engineering and civil engineering. It is one of the first and is considered as one of the finest products of the use of industrial revolution technology merged with revival of the Gothic Revival style In India . The centrally domed office structure has a 330 feet long platform connected to a 1,200 feet long train shed, and its outline provides the skeleton plan for building. VT's dome of dovetailed ribs, built without centering, was considered as a novel achievement of the era. The interior of the building was conceived as a series of large rooms with high ceilings. It is a utilitarian building and has had various changes required by the users, not always sympathetic. It has a C-shaped plan which is symmetrical on an east-west axis.
All the sides of the building are given equal value in the design. It is crowned by a high central dome, which acts as the focal point. The dome is an octagonal ribbed structure with a colossal female figure symbolizing Progress, holding a torch pointing upwards in her right hand and a spoked wheel in her left hand. The side wings enclose The Courtyard, which opens on to the street. The wings are anchored by monumental turrets at each of their four corners, which balance and frame the central dome. The façades present the appearance of well proportioned rows of windows and arches. The ornamentation in the form of statuary, bas-reliefs, and friezes is exuberant yet well controlled. The columns of the entrance gates are crowned by figures of a lion (representing Great Britain) and a tiger (representing India).
The main structure is built from a blend of India sandstone and limestone, while high-quality Italian marble was used for the key decorative elements. The main interiors are also decorated: the ground floor of the 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 stone arches are covered with carved foliage and grotesques.
Internally, 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. Outside, there are statues representing Commerce, Agriculture, Engineering and Science, with a statue representing Progress on the central dome of the station. A statue of Queen Victoria beneath the central dome has been removed.
CST has 18 platforms - 7 are for locals trains and 11 are for long distance.
Rumours persist that the design for Chhatrapat Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai was originally designated for Flinders Street Station. However, no convincing evidence, other than architectural similarities to other buildings in their respective cities, has been produced to support the rumour. Plans are underway to upgrade Mumbai CST (along with Pune Jn. and Nagpur Jn.) by means of a public-private partnership.
The network of suburban trains (locally known as locals, short for local trains) radiating out from this station is instrumental in keeping Mumbai running. The station serves long-distance trains as well as two of the suburban lines-the Central Line and the Harbour line. It is the westernmost terminus of Central Railway. On the Central Line the trains terminate at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan, Ambarnath, Badlapur, Karjat, Khopoli, Asangaon, Titwala, and Kasara. While on the Harbour Line, the trains terminate at Bandra, Andheri, Mankhurd, Vashi, Belapur and Panvel.
CST has 18 platforms - six are for locals trains and 12 are for long distance.
In popular culture
The station has been the location of filming the "Jai Ho" song in Slumdog Millionaire and Ra.One etc.