Monday, July 23, 2007

Mumbai's nerve centre - Victoria Terminus is the lifeblood of Mumbai

As any Mumbaikar will tell you, Victoria Terminus is the lifeblood of the city. The milling crowds, the stampede to get to your train first is all possible courtesy this great Gothic building created in 1888.

And though it may now be called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) nothing can obliterate its secular spirit, its unique blend of East and West. Built in homage to Queen Victoria by British architect FW Stevens - he took ten years to finish it - the station is the signpost to the rest of India that they've made it to Mumbai. Many famous names will recall in their struggle to make it big, they, once upon a time, got out at this terminus with nothing.

The building has received honours, albeit a little late. In July 2004, it was nominated and made a World Heritage building by UNESCO - the first functioning administrative building to be selected. So it's no surprise that despite the honour, its gone right back to work. Every day an estimated 2.5 million people pass in and and out, rushing to catch up with life.

Scarcely any of them pay a thought to the station that makes it possible. The headquarters of the Central Railways, CST ensures that not just Mumbai but India remains on track. If it ever sneezes, the country could catch a big cold.

But if you're not rushing to catch a train, the best thing to do is take in the building at night. The Gothic
architecture of the building softened by the city's lights will leave you hard pressed to find anything more beautiful and awe-inspiring. So maybe now's the time to say thanks.

No comments: