11 December 2016

Fourth imprint -- Halt Station India

Yes! Excited to announce the 4th imprint of my successful book on the story of India's 1st railway. Thank u, all. For those who still haven't bought it, here are the details: To place an order..

Please call for home delivery--

Mumbai number-  02223524655, 02223511381. Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm. Saturday 9.30am to 2.00pm, Sunday closed.
Email at kgminternational @ gmail.com

The book is also available online on Flipkart/Amazon and also at book stores

To buy in India



To buy locally in the UK


For the US and other countries


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
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.

11 November 2016

F. W Stevens birthday celebrated in Mumbai

Rajendra B. Aklekar, Mumbai.

Started the day (November 11, 2016) by paying homage to Frederick William Stevens on his 169th birth anniversary at his grave in the Sewri Cemetery along with Central Railway delegation. '

The architect has not just designed the wonderful Victoria Terminus -- Mumbai CST heritage building, but also the Mumbai Municipal Corporation head office, Churchgate heritage building, what is now the Maharashtra Police head office building opposite Regal Cinema, the artistic water fountain opposite GPO and much more, all major icons of South Mumbai. 

A salute and a happy birthday. 
An official event was also been organised on the occasion this evening in the prestigious dining hall of Mumbai CST station.

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.

04 October 2016

Wheels of a locomotive being riveted. Nov 1954. India

Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan. Wheels of a locomotive being riveted. November 1954. Courtesy: Photo Division, India.

A steam loco receiving finishing touches, Chittaranjan India. Nov 1954

Locomotive Works,  A  new engine 649 of W.G. class receiving finishing touches. November 1954. Courtesy: Photo Division, India.

02 October 2016

USSR Premier at Chittaranjan Loco Works India. Circa 1950s

Their Excellencies Mr. N.A. Bulganin, Premier of the USSR, and Mr. N.S. Khrushchev, Member, Presidium of the Soviet going round and Chittaranjan Locomotive Works. Circa 1950s.

Their majesties of Nepal on a steam locomotive, India. 1955

Their Majesties the King and the Queen of Nepal having a joy ride in an Railway Engine at the Chittaranjan Loco Works, Calcutta on December, 1955

A glossy new railway train for VIPs. India. Circa mid-1950s

Mr. Salah Eddin Al-Bitar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Syria, and other members of the party photographed inside a rail coach during their visit to Hindustan Aircrafts Ltd. Bangalore. Circa mid-1950s, Courtesy. Photo Division, India.

A steam loco in finishing stages at Telco Factory India. January 1957

A Press party tour of Eastern India was arranged by the Government of India in January 1957. JAMSHEDPUR a locomotive in the finishing stages TELCO factory. Photo Courtesy: Photo Division, India.

31 August 2016

East Indian Railway exhibition, 1949

An exhibit of signalling and track switches of an East India Railway Station on display at the Roorkee Engineering Exhibition, November, 1949. Coutesy: PhotoDivision India.

93-yr-old Indian Railway historian, always an inspiration...

This man is such an inspiration at his age. Always a pleasure to catch up with when he is in Mumbai. 93-year-old railway historian Srinivasa Venkatraman from Chennai India is doing his fourth book and has been moving across the country to do his research. On Tuesday, he spent the day at the Maharashtra State Government Archives in Mumbai doing his research.

Was lucky to catch up with him for an hour talking about trains and railways.

30 August 2016

When Prime Ministers travelled by railway trains!

The Prime Minister of India Shri Jawaharlal Nehru receiving His royal Highness Marshal Shah Mahmoud Khan Prime Minister of Afghanistan, on the latters' arrival at New Delhi Railway Station, on September 4, 1951.

Among others seen in the picture are: H.E. Dr. Najibullah Khan, Afghan Ambassador to India and Shri I.S. Chopra, Chief of Protocol, Government of India (extreme left)

Courtesy. Photo Division, India.

Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory May 1954 India

Union Railway Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri examines a coupled wheel assembly at the Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory May 1954. Courtesy: Photo Division, India. 

Bombay Tramway replica at Dadar station Mumbai

Noticed this at Dadar station Mumbai yesterday. Replica of electric tram and its history. Need more such initiatives.

Electric loco for India's Eastern Railway gets ready at Liverpool

A 3,120 HP loco, one of the 1st 3,000 Volts DC locos supplied to Eastern Rly, gets ready for loading at Liverpool, England. Courtesy: Photo Division. India.

India's first pantry rail car

The first “Annapoorna” Rail Dining-Car, which ran between Delhi and Dehra Dun, was opened by Lal Bahadur Shastri, Minister for Railways and Transport, Government of India, at the Railway Centenary Exhibition in New Delhi, on March 15, 1953. Photo shows the Minister for Railways and Transport with Lilavati Munshi, Vice-President of All India Women’s Food Council, inside the Dining-Car. Thks Photo Division

13 July 2016

Thank you, Central Railway

Am touched by this kind gesture of Additional General Manager AK Srivastava, Central_Railway for my contribution to Mumbai CST Heritage Week. I will only say I just followed my passion and loved every bit of it. Thank you indeed.#CSTheritageweek

10 July 2016

The Mumbai CST heritage railway building treasure hunt!

The iconic railway station building had its first Heritage Week — a peek into its history and the trappings, fittings and architecture that make it special, and timeless

Rajendra B. Aklekar

A web link here:  http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/csts-hidden-heritage/article8831097.ece

09 July 2016

Rafique Baghdadi and Rajendra B. Aklekar -- Romance of Mumbai, trains & films

Was honoured to moderate a talk and share stories about the romance of Mumbai, its railway and a bit of cinema with city chronicler-historian Rafique Baghdadi at the dining hall of the UNESCO-listed world heritage site of Mumbai CST railway station on the occasion of CST Heritage Week  on July 5, 2016. Thanks to Central Railway Additional General Manager A.K. Srivastava and also Chief Public Relations Officer Narendra Patil.

05 July 2016

A coup of sorts at Mumbai CST!

Rajendra B. Aklekar

It was a coup of sorts at the UNESCO-listed Mumbai CST heritage railway headquarters on July 4. It was a momentous moment on the third day at the CST Heritage Week, a brainchild of Central Railway’s Additional General Manager A.K Srivastava, when he managed to get all the city’s heritage guardians and experts on a single platform to commemorate and conserve Mumbai CST.

To celebrate the iconic railway station, Central Railway has organised a CST Heritage Week between July 2 and July 8 coinciding with the dates when the structure was declared a World Heritage Site.

From Tasneem Mehta, Vice Chairman, INTACH & Managing Trustee & Hon. Director the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, who had originally submitted the dossier for Mumbai CST to UNESCO to get it listed as a World Heritage Site to former Railway Board Member VN Mathur who represented India in China at the UNESCO then and from the director of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vaastu Sangrahalaya (The Prince of Wales Museum) Sabyasachi Mukherjee to former bureaucrat Sharad Kale, the director of Asiatic Society.

Dr Dilip Balsekar, the director of the Maharashtra Government Archives, Rajiv Mishra, the director of the directorate of Art also representing JJ School of Arts, Dr Joan Dias, the director of Heras Institute at the St Xavier’s College Mumbai, also representing the Bombay Local History Society.

It was for the first time that all these veterans were on one platform, speaking on one common love the Victorian Gothic Mumbai CST railway station.

Tasneem Mehta spoke elaborately on how she, along with conservation architect Vikas Dilawari – who conducted a packed heritage walk on Day 1 of the week – had worked day and night to get the dossier of Mumbai CST ready for the UNESCO presentation twelve years ago. “We had a very short time and there was not enough data available. We caught hold of an old railway employee who guided us to the FW Stevens’ drawings of the building and that helped us a lot. We could just manage it within the given time,” she recalled.

Former Railway Board Member VN Mathur who represented India in China at the UNESCO said, “I was the secretary railway board and had to represent India at the UNESCO. I had never worked at Central Railway but the dossier helped me understand the station and fall in love with it. I came down to the station and studied it so as to understand it. It was a success as Mumbai CST had won the nomination. Today, 12 years after the event, I acknowledge and thank all those who worked hard to get this done,” Mathur said, adding that he was now writing a book on Indian Railway’s stations and their magnificent architecture.

“The British architects went wild when they came down to India and experimented with every possible style of architecture by building remarkable station buildings across India. There is need to appreciate, document and safeguard these for the future generations,” he added.

“I was surprised when the railways approached me and what would they want from a museum, but was glad to know that they are celebrating Mumbai CST. Millions commute to work here but no one really appreciates it. I am ready to extend all possible help from the museum,” said the director of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vaastu Sangrahalaya (The Prince of Wales Museum) Sabyasachi Mukherjee.

Director of Asiatic Society Sharad Kale spoke at length on how the train created awe among the local populace when it had first run in 1850s. Rajiv Mishra, the director of the directorate of Art also representing JJ School of Arts elaborated on how the students of JJ School of Arts had helped the construction of Mumbai CST building and got the architect FW Steven’s drawings into reality. , Dr Joan Dias, the director of Heras Institute at the St Xavier’s College Mumbai, also representing the Bombay Local History Society extended all possible help to document and conserve the Mumbai CST building.

At the end of the event, former Central Railway general manager Sunil Kumar Sood handed over a set of archives to Dr Dilip Balsekar as a token gesture stating that the Maharashtra State Archives would extend help in conserving the valuable archives at the Central Railway.

But all said and done this was for the first time ever that all these dignitaries from almost all the reputed and like-minded institutions of this city and state have been brought together for Mumbai CST, thanks to Additional General Manager AK Srivastava and Chief Public Relations Officer Narendra Patil whose sincere efforts need to be acknowledged.

I have been interacting with all the dignitaries individually and I can tell you that all of them have always had love and concern for the monument and I am sure this gathering will lead to a much better conservation of this stately building and also of the archival records which are not just important for the railways, but also for this city as a whole. Amen!