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The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


  1. very informative :)) i had to look at your tags, I wasnt sure if it was actually India!!

    Actually, I am highly impressed by how the Indians are maintaining all these old buildings. I am loving the architecture!

  2. Great job Nadia, even I myself ddn’t know Mumbai history so much LOL …. It wasn’t taught to us in school, except all the freedom movement and all the British empire rule and all that …. I think they should reconsider their syllabus if they haven’t yet!

    They should! They have reconsidered the names of cities and train stations and airports, and changed them all, why not the syllabus?

  3. This is one of those many posts that add value to this blog and make people want to keep coming back to look for more.

    I have seen this railway station in videos a number of times. It always seems a grand and gorgeous building to me. I was keen to know more about it and this post has gone a long way in letting me get to know this impressive building.

    If I was a Bombayite, I too would still be calling it VT 🙂

    1. Thank you, Ahmed. I prefer to call it VT myself, specially because I have trouble pronouncing and spelling the current name 😀

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