Recently, I went for the heritage tour of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). It was quite a sudden decision - I happened to be on a train heading home, when I thought of going on the tour. I got off the train, and took another one right back to CST! :) At the last minute I called my mom to join me too.
I had to ask around a bit to find the start point. But eventually we found the entrance, and our tour began at 3:30 p.m. The tour took us through the Heritage Museum, the interiror of the Central Railway Headquarters building (where all the paperwork and government managerial stuff happens), and finally the station itself.
The tour was led by Ms. Lata who was in charge of the place that day. She conducted our tour herself, as the usual guide (an architecture student) wasn't available then.
|As we entered, we saw the facade of the Central Railway Headquarters, with the round carved heads of the 10 GIPR directors.|
The Heritage Museum has displays on the history of Indian Railways, old engine types, etc. There are interesting old photos, models, letters, artifacts and objects. As a bonus, the museum is air-conditioned!
|An engine model. And look above for the (rather cute) GIPR |
logo in stained glass. GIPR stands for Great Indian Peninsular
Railway, the predecessor of the Central Railway.
|Old telephones and other gizmos|
Some other interesting objects displayed were the Mangalore tiles with which the CST ceiling is made, an old money collection box (on which someone had put stickers, before it was rescued and placed in the museum), inkpots, teapots, cutlery, a slide rule, a range finder, and other instruments.
After the museum we continued further into the Central Railway Headquarters building. There were many rooms and offices, and I'd have liked to know what exactly was going on in each one. But all I got was someone who worked there "tch"ing at me for walking too slowly while admiring the architecture, and blocking them :P. (Then I got out of their way quickly.)
The Headquarters building is majestic: towering dome, winding staircase, high stained-glass windows, solid old wooden doors, and intricate stone carvings of animals, birds, plants and flowers.
|A beautiful door set amidst carvings|
|Entrance to the hall|
|This proud-looking lion holds a shield bearing the |
coat of arms of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.
|The high Central Dome|
|The wrought-iron staircase|
|We climbed up...|
|...reached the top...|
|...and had tea and biscuits.|
|This area is called the "Star Chamber" (notice the ceiling). |
Down below, people queue for tickets.
|On the balcony we got a better view of the lovely peacock carving...|
|... and the jutting gargoyles.|
|The luxurious dining room. Somehow this room took me by surprise - I wasn't expecting anything like it at all!|
|In the dining room, there was also this wooden bookshelf packed with thick, official-looking gazettes and other publications on the railways.|
All in all, I'm glad I went for the tour. I got to see the gorgeous interiors of this building, that I had passed often but never entered before. I also learnt quite a bit about the history of the railways, of CST, and of Mumbai.
When, where, and how much does it cost?
The tours are conducted between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday. Tickets can be bought between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. Each tickets costs Rs. 200 normally, and Rs. 100 with student ID.
The ticket counter is at the Heritage Museum. To reach the counter, there's no need to enter CST station. If you stand facing the Central Railway Headquarters, you'll see the main gate with two lions. Walk to your right and you'll see an arched entrance (photo below). This is the entrance to the Heritage Museum.
|The lions at the gates of the Central Railway Headquarters. From the gates, walk towards the arch. The Heritage Museum is right under the arch.|
|Gates of the Heritage Museum|