Crafts in the Terminus

Art history/ Historiography

Crafts in the Terminus

Srivastava, Vinita

Issue #003, Autumn, 2019                                                                      ISSN: 2581- 9410

The Victoria Terminus, erstwhile Headquarter of the GIPR – Grand Indian Peninsular Railway - is now renamed Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. In 1887, it opened just in time for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, after taking 10 years to build. Preparations for the royal celebrations in London were then on, with plans for eminent personalities of the time to be in attendance –including the Maharajas of Gondal, Coochbehar, Kutch and Indore. Meanwhile, artists, sculptors and builders from regions around Mumbai were embedding the evidences of their charming handiwork into the Gothic- Venetian – Indian – Islamic all too wondrous mix that would become the facade of the Terminus.

“Much too magnificient for a bustling crowd of railway passengers”, was the prim judgement of Vicereine Lady Dufferin. (1889; Railways of the Raj, by Satow and Desmond). It was then that the building was gaining in fame and prominence. Erstwhile Bombay Fortifications, linking Khandesh and Berar via the GIP Railways, were important to export cotton, spices, opium sugar and silk from Bori Bunder port to the consumers in England. The criticism of the Vicereine was perhaps lost in the symbolism of the Terminus that was the latest and most important part of the Bombay Fort, and its offering of strategic rail connectivity between land and sea.

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