Jul 8, 2016

Unravelling the Central Railway’s hidden history through Photo Exhibition

Mumbai: Mumbai once had a Colaba railway station in place of Badhwar Park, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus was built on the spot of the Mumbadevi Mandir, which was removed in 1760; a Dhobi Ghat and Phansi Talao (execution spot) was also removed from the area and shifted to different pockets in the city.
These and other less-known facts about the city were shared by historian Rafeeq Baghdadi at the Central Railway’s Heritage Week celebrations at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on Tuesday.

About CST, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, Mr.Baghdadi said it’s a symbol “that is used to establish that you’re in the city of Mumbai.” He also threw light upon the grand staircase of the main building which was designed by Frederick William Stevens, calling it “one of the best staircases in the world.”

Also, he said, Central Railway station at Masjid does not have any mosques built around it, but got its name from the several synagogues situated there, because of the popular belief of the time which found similarities between the two.

The seminar was attended by locals and students who were intrigued by the history attached to CST and its nearby areas.

Ebrahim F.M. (56), a resident of Crawford Market for over 50 years, wanted to reconfirm what he had heard about the railway network from his elders. “In earlier times, people were scared to travel long distances and the thought of travelling to Thane, which was a forested area then, was worrying. There was also the belief that travelling in fast trains would reduce the lifespan of a person,” he said.

Rajendra Akelkar, who recently published a book about the history of the railways in India, spoke about the growth of railway lines and use of the railways in Indian films.

The original designs of the station by F.W. Williams are being showcased at an exhibition between platform 7 and 8 of CST.

Central Railways is also holding discussions with historians, architects and lecturers on different aspects of the structure and the city, till July 8.