Denoting power & progress, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Terminus towers proudly as a marvel of architectural splendour in Mumbai.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) towers majestically in the heart of Mumbai and since its establishment, it has watched the city evolve as one of the fastest flourishing metropolitan cities of India. A marvellous specimen of Victorian and European gothic school of architecture, the design of this C-shaped building boasts of unique elements which give it a typical Bombay-vintage charm. This sprawling terminal was built over a period of 10 years starting in 1878 and since then, it scaled to become of the busiest railway terminus across India! Before the COVID pandemic handicapped public travel here, the CSMT recorded a high footfall of approximately 3 million riders, every day.
A constant in the ever-changing Bambai Nagariya
Built as a tribute to commemorate the golden jubilee reign of Queen Victoria of England, this terminus was established in 1888, which also signifies its erstwhile name - Victoria Terminus. An exceptional example of the British Commonwealth architecture, this building is uniquely Indian with its deep verandahs for ventilation, blending with the polychrome masonry and intricate sculptural ornamentation, brought to life by local artisans.
Later in 1996, it was named after the legendary Maratha leader, Chattra Shivaji Maharaja and as of 2017, it has been popularised by the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. A true constant of the city, this building has stood through the tides of times, changes and growth without losing its grand aura! A symbolic icon of power and progress in Mumbai- the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is a material testimony of the city's existence itself!
Enchanting design, built to impress
The building was designed by British architect Frederick William Stevens and is an extraction of the best features of the Victorian Gothic design, including London's St. Pancras Railway Station, sculpted to perfection by locals artisans on familiar stones. It has multiple elements ranging from arches to vestibules, from tympana to gargoyles drainage spouts!
The facade is the most beautiful part of the building, consisting of a multitude of arch designs, styles and surface ornamentations, which is bound to leave one speechless. Not just that, the building was designed to impress and flaunts the usage of several types of stones, that categorially expound its allure. The central structure is moulded in yellow Malad stone while the softer white Porbandar stone is used for the elaborate detailing. Red sandstone and grey basalt highlight the archways, adding dimension and beauty to them.
The main entrance gate to the railway station has two pillars. On one is a mounted lion, representing Great Britain and the other has a tiger, symbolic of the Indian heritage. As an allegorical tribute to India's vibrant culture and heritage, a feathered peacock has been carved on the tympanum facade. Beyond the glorious outlook, the station interiors are no less magnificent and have been restored too, as the terminus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It shines today as a reflection of its past brilliance, with a renewed golden radiance of its contemporary presence.
If Mumbai were a book, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus will probably be one of those chapters that ground and introduce the readers to the story, keeping them hooked till the very end. With all that it holds and all that it represents, this building is pivotal to Bombay's past, present and future. Each evening, the building is lit up with colourful lights, adding a modern touch to its erstwhile grandeur. Call it a castle, a fortress or a railway station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is one-of-a -kind and you have to witness its resplendence, at least once for sure!