Formerly known as Victoria Terminus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai is not only one of the busiest train stations in India it is also one of the most iconic.
The magnificent Gothic railway station building at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus was constructed on the site of Bori Bunder Railway Station, which was famous in its own right as the terminus for the first passenger service in India which began operating on the 16 April 1853 from Mumbai to Thane, some 34 km away. Construction on a new railway station began in 1878 and completed in 1888 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Empress of India. The name of the station was changed from Bori Bunder to Victoria Terminus to coincide with the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Victoria Terminus is in many ways reminiscent of St Pancras Train Station in London, although the building is architecturally unique as it combines both the popular Victorian Gothic style which was fashionable across Europe at the time with themes from traditional Indian architecture. The turrets, pointed arches and floor plan of the station building are heavily influenced by Mughal architectural conventions and the much of the detailing within the terminal building itself was work of local Indian students which meant the finishes bore the unmistakable traces of the traditional craftsmanship of India. Like many of the great British Colonialist architects, Frederick William Stevens, sought to incorporate local architecture into British construction projects mirroring the aspirations of the Colonial administrations to fuse British culture with those of the countries they colonialised as a way of strengthening the bonds of Empire. To an extent this worked, with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus now a lasting reminder of the British involvement in India.
Location of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is located just north of the Nariman Point which is a peninsula to the South of Mumbai city with many great historical monuments such as the Gateway of India adjacent to the grand Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Mumbai Railway Station Today
A lot has changed since the station was completed in 1888. First and foremost, India has gained independence and the name of the railway station was changed first to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996 and then again to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in 2017. The new name relates to the Warrior King Shivaji Bhonsle who forged the Maratha Empire in Western India. This choice of name is as politically charged as the name naming of the original building as Victoria Terminus with some residents of the city viewing the name change of a part of a boarder political movement favouring one ethnic group over other living in the city. The other major change to the railway station over time has been its it growth. The original station had 9 platforms. In 1929 a main station was concourse was constructed for platforms 10 to 13, and the expansion has continued since to 18 platforms serving over 3 million passengers daily.