Railway stations were the most prominent entry points, and cemented the gap between the rural and urban districts that enabled the British Raj to concretize their regime in India. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, then known as the Victoria Terminus, was one of the grandest and considered the queen of all railway stations in India.
In 1887, the station was aptly named as ‘Victoria Terminus’ under the British reign. This was done to commemorate the Jubilee Day celebrations of the sovereign, Queen Victoria. At a cost of INR 1.614 million, the construction started in 1878 and took ten years to complete. The station was opened to the public on New Year’s Day in 1882.
The building in its grandeur served many purposes. Apart from housing railway functionaries – the likes of accounts, chief engineer, and traffic manager – it also served as a government stronghold and housed other municipal offices such as the superintendent of the police.
Built in local sandstone, the style is a combination of the then popular English Venetian Gothic styles endorsed with elements of Indian architecture. The central dome bears a thirteen feet solid figurine personifying ‘Progress’, with its arms raised towards the sky on the south-western part of the building. This follows the unique Bombay style of architecture, an emerging trend during the days of the Raj when British architects worked with Indian craftsmen.
The Victoria Terminus was renamed the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on March 4, 1999 to honor the bravest of brave warrior son of the soil, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
It was a stance taken by the then local municipal offices to do away with anglicized names and give an Indian identity to public landmarks and streets. Despite being renamed, the station is still referred to as “VT” station by hardcore habitants of Mumbai.