The image of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) has been etched in the minds of most Indians, thanks to popular culture. Cinema and television shows have depicted wide angle long shots of the terminus whenever the plot involves the protagonist’s arrival to Mumbai. The association of Mumbai as “Sapno Ki Mahanagri” in the collective consciousness of Indians is incomplete without the image of the Terminus.
It is a common sight to find tourists posing outside the Central Railways (CR) headquarters’’ (also known as the CST locally) gate trying to get themselves and the UNESCO heritage status allocated monument behind them in the same frame. Only the discerning of those will venture beyond this. Barring art and architecture enthusiasts and students, for the majority of the city population, admiring the blend of Gothic and Indian architecture along with the symbols associated with them, is a luxury that very few can afford.
I was once watching a travel-show that was showcasing the gothic architecture of Europe when one of my friends remarked, “Wow! Such lovely architecture, such attention to detail! Mumbai hardly has such elaborately designed buildings.”
Being a sucker for the gothic buildings in South Mumbai, many from the Victorian era, I was shocked out of my wits. I asked him, “Have you not been outside CST? Have you not seen the fierce look in the eyes of the numerous gargoyles protruding out of the buildings or the peacocks sculpted on the arches? Have you not seen the lions holding the coat-of-arms? There are various other things visible in clear view just outside the headquarters.” I posed this question to other friends as well. Out of the twenty that I asked, barely had anyone bothered observing this marvellous building that intricately.
This photo essay started as a humble effort to make my friends aware of the beautifully sculpted features around the building so that they are more observant when they are around the CR HQ. The real victory would be when someone, prompted by these images, actually goes ahead and takes the guided tour which has started this year. It is 200 rupees well-spent.
As Marcel Proust puts it, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” So, go ahead and give those eyes some much needed exercise the next time you are outside CST.
Text & Photos By Nimish Sawant