25 November 2016

Mumbai suburban railway goes religious!


Rajendra B. Aklekar

So with the Maharashtra government now deciding to name the proposed Oshiwara station between Jogeshwari and Goregaon on Churchgate-Virar section of Mumbai division of Western Railway as Ram Mandir, Mumbai suburban railway, the city’s lifeline, has now become a completely secular railway and come a full circle.

Controversies apart, and I do not have any political views, but lightly speaking it now has a Churchgate, a Masjid Bunder, a Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar and now a Ram Mandir. :)

Let’s look at their brief history. 

Churchgate: Mumbai (today’s south Mumbai) was a walled, fortified city with moats. The fortification had three main gates. And one of the gates was an entry to the St. Thomas Church, today’s St Thomas Cathedral. The road was named Churchgate as the road from led to this church. This gate, which roughly stood where today’s Flora Fountain stands, was demolished in 1860. The railway station that came up near the gate’s proximity on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India line (today’s Western Railway) was named Churchgate.

Masjid Bunder: Named after an old jetty which was near a mosque (masjid), this station on Central Railway Mumbai comes just after the iconic Mumbai CST. Records suggest the station probably got its name from the 200-year old Gate of Mercy Synagogue, called Juni Masjid, along Samuel Street in Mandvi in the east of the station, one of Mumbai’s oldest synagogues. Another one Saat-Taad mosque, simply translated “seven palm trees” is located just next to the station today hidden amid a maze of warehouses and wholesale dealers with a narrow entrance today
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Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar: Originally called Koliwada, this station on the harbour line of Central Railway Mumbai was renamed Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar after the ninth of the ten Gurus of Sikhism in July 1979.

Ram Mandir: The proposed Oshiwara station had been under construction for quite some time. Political parties demanded that the station be renamed as Ram Mandir station in recognition of a popular temple in the area. The road that leads to the station is called Ram Mandir Road. Today, the Maharashtra government approved the proposal.

18 October 2016

Kalka Simla Rail Bus 1945, India


A Rail Motor plying on the Kalka–Simla line July 14, 1945. Courtesy: Photo Division India.

Once upon a time: Byculla — station with a history as old as Railways

From the Indian Express Mumbai Published:October 9, 2016 3:12 am

The station itself is a listed heritage structure according to BMC records

ONE of the busiest stations on Central Railway, the Byculla station, is actually more than 125 years old. Suddenly in the news over reports that it could see a remodelling in the coming years to accommodate more railway lines, the station, which opens onto the busy JJ Road area, has tremendous significance in history. According to records, construction of the station started in 1887 and was completed in 1891.
When the first railway line became operational in India, with a train leaving Bombay’s Victoria Terminus at Bori Bunder on April 16, 1853 at 15.30 hrs for Thana (today’s Thane), one of its halts was at the very area where the Byculla station would eventually be built. Railway historian Rajendra B Aklekar says, “Byculla has an important place in the history of Indian railways and was one of the stations along India’s first railway route. It was the place from where trials of the first passenger steam locomotive were held before trains began to run in 1853, between Byculla and Parel.”
In the British era, prior to the 1880s, it was Byculla that had more prominence on a daily basis than the Bori Bunder station owing to its proximity to the horse stables. “Byculla is also the place where the Bombay Governor’s wife Lady Falkland took her first ride on the train in 1853,” Aklekar adds. The original Byculla station structure was not located exactly where it is today — it was a bit further south, opposite Mankeshwar Temple. But the wide porches, poles and arches of the present-day station are dipped in heritage — one ticket window bears the logo of the old railway service before it was renamed.The station itself is a listed heritage structure according to BMC records. Its arched decorative roof is somewhat hidden behind the chaos immediately outside both exits, and the general grubbiness dims the more aesthetic aspects of the structure. According to records, the station’s design had to be revised by the railway’s senior officials in London, to shave off some costs. By the time the building was finally constructed, the Victoria Terminus building was simultaneously being completed. The contractor for both structures was the same Parsi firm, Berjoorjee Rustomjee Mistri and Co.

17 October 2016

Old-style Mumbai local train when it was new

The old-fashioned Mumbai local train when it was new...and that has become unwanted now... 1950s.
Photo Courtesy: PhotoDivision, India.

05 October 2016

A steam loco being built in India. November 1954



An engine under erection. Locomotive Works. Chittaranjan. India. November 1954. Photo Courtesy: Photo Division, India.