(Last Updated on : 10/01/2009)
This monument was formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai
, Maharashtra and it is a fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India. This famous terminal also displays the beauty of late 19th century railway architecture in the British Commonwealth characterized by its advanced structural and technical solutions. It is a magnificent monument full of spectacular sculptures and arcades. This monument is the westernmost end point of the Central Railways of India. It is also the southern end point of the central and harbour lines of Mumbai`s metropolitan rail transport system.
However, this beautiful, awe-inspiring building looks more like a palace than a railway station! It is because its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan is close to traditional Indian palace architecture. At the highest point of the building, on the dome, stands the inspirational statue of Progress. Though it was constructed 34 years after the first train left this station, the work completed on this building only by 1887.
When it was first constructed, this monument became the symbol of Mumbai as the `Gothic City` and the major international mercantile port city in the Indian subcontinent
within the British Commonwealth. And today, it has become an inseparable part of the people of Mumbai as the station operates both suburban and long distance trains. On 2nd July 2004, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO nominated this magnificent specimen of late 19th century railway architecture as a World Heritage Site. This terminus is one of the rare specimens of the excellent fusion of traditional western and Indian architecture and adds a unique variety to the rich Indian heritage.
The British architect Frederick William Stevens, for a princely sum of 16.14 lakhs, designed the building to become the major international mercantile port of India. Stevens earned the commission to construct the station after a masterpiece watercolour sketch by draughtsman Axel Herman. After earning the commission, Stevens went on a ten-month trip to Europe to make a detailed study of the stations there. St Pancras station in London bears some resemblance to Victoria Terminus.
The terminal was built over ten years starting in 1878 and is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms forging a new style unique to Bombay. Internally, 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 Bombay School of Art. The station stands as an example of 19th century railway architectural marvels for its advanced structural and technical solutions. Till 1996, it was known as Victoria Terminus, named so in the honour of Queen Victoria. But its name was changed, in response to demands by the Shiv Sena and in keeping with the policy of renaming locations with Indian names. Hence, the station was renamed by the state government after Chhatrapati Shivaji.