Public Relations Department,
Photographs by: Subin Selva
Central Railway Archives
Editor: Sunil Udasi
Guest Writers: Anuj Daga
Treasures at the terminus
You cross the main gates, with the lion and tiger guarding them on the either side. Circling around a garden you reach the porch that will take you to the main entrance. The large wooden double doors are open and you are about to cross the threshold to witness the residues of the imperial Brandness of this High Gothic structure, with memories and histories embedded over the last 13 years. This not your regular day at the city's busiest terminus - the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), where you are here to just pass through Fighting against the rhythm of the city that blurs the Terminus to make it a mere iconic façade and a backdrop at a busy crossroads today is a day to pause, gaze, and admire the various details memories and stories that the stone and wood here have to tell us.
This book Treasures at the Terminus is the pause
Since you are now about to experience one of the most beautiful buildings through this picture book, it is important you understand how the book is constructed to be able to seamlessly move through it and optimize your experience.
The book is divided into 4 sections It begins by contextualizing what CSMT means to us. In megacities like Mumbai, an individual's sense of belonging is strongly shaped by the urban spaces one traverses regularly for work recreation leisure. However deliberate discussions about people, places or events that we encounter regularly olten become secondary in everyday conversation They frequently come to be taken for granted: not because we do not value ther, but since we do not see them different from us - they simply become an extension to our everyday lives. They are the backdrop against which our ife unfolds, and assumes meaning The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), held formerly in our collective memory as the Victoria Terminus (VD is undoubtedly one such phenomenon for Mumbaikars.
The next section is a quick breeze through the history of the building citing The Birth of an Icon The third section is a photo essay that is a walk through the treasures at the terminus establishing our wonder and awe at all the marvelous details that we zoom past, on our everyday. However, we also visit areas in the building that are not often open to the public, owing to its function as the headquarters of the Central Railway. The walk through' not only unravels the secrets of the building with never-seen-before shots, but also systematically breaks down the building to its visual elements and icons that need more attention and reading.
You will find yourself staring away at a page spread of a crocodile crouching beneath the foliage, only to train your eyes to look up next time for these stories between the forgotten cornices.
Similarly, when you look at the exhibit of a variety of arches that adorn the corridor, bustling past the grand western façade, you might pause to spot a few yourself. As you look on, what follows is an 'inside-out' view of the city and its streets from these arches. Doors, windows, corridors, columns, floors, ceilings, furniture (with the GIPR markings) - element by element, the photo essay breaks down the building to its bare minimum the texture of the stones, the shadows of the ornamentation, the stories of intertwining flora and fauna and, not-to-be-missed, the medallions of the people behind this aspiration. The walk through hopes to enable a sense of pride and ownership in every reader for this unique heritage icon of our city and stir an innate need to preserve it for generations to come as a reminder of our past and present.
The book ends with "Perfecting the Past," a documentation championing the restoration and conservation works undertaken by the Central Railway authorities, along with the conservation team whose ceaseless efforts will restore the icon. It begins with a general overview of the conservation work and moves on to details of various areas, throwing light on the meticulous nature of the task undertaken, so that we, as users of this public domain, empathise with the efforts taken to bring back the glory and pride to the heritage that belongs to us all.
By the end of the book, the Terminus must have transformed from a blurred backdrop in the busy city to a myriad of stories in wood and stone -of history, art, craft, technology, memories monumentality, and most importantly, heritage. Virasat, is a beautiful word in Hindi that can be synonymous to our conversation about heritage' or inheritance, much liked a beloved heirloom. With strength and integrity, it must be preserved, protected and passed on. In an intangible sense it often begins to define who we are. It is time to extend this guiding emotion to our public memory! Perhaps, this sentiment is the only parameter that will create aware, intelligent, and sensitive interventions in the face of the future.
The hope to ignite the need to preserve heritage is most pivotal.