Railway stations are one of the most interesting places to visit. It may be because, some of them have indeed withstood the test of time starting from wars, natural calamities and urban development. It might also be because of their historic structures, which have inspired writers to compose stories around them and also based on them.
Whatever said and done, railway stations aren't just transportation hubs, but they are places that would transport you into another world before your train embarks on its journey to the specified destination. In India, visiting railway stations can often be a throwback to another era.
The Indian Railways is one the busiest railway networks in the world, which carries an estimated number of 30 Million passengers every day across various parts of the country. Take a look at some of the oldest railway stations in the country.
Royapuram – Tamil Nadu
The first train to run in South India began its services out of the then Madras now Chennai's Royapuram station in the monsoon of 1856 with its destination to the town of Arcot in Vellore district. Royapuram was Southern India's first station, which was then known as the Madras Presidency.
The original structure which still stands tall today, makes it the oldest functioning railway station in the country. The simple colonial structure in the hues of red and white along with grand Corinthian pillars is a heritage structure. The station underwent a major restoration work in the year 2005 and was restored to it past glory.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – Maharashtra
Known as Victoria Terminus until the year 1996, CST without a doubt is the busiest railway station in Mumbai. The station is an arterial one which took close to a decade to complete its construction. The station is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best examples of the Gothic Revival architecture in India.
Gargoyles stand out of its high walls, which often spout water during monsoon. A high arched ceiling which is painted with golden stars can be found above the ticket counter. Along with statues and carvings of peacocks, tigers and other wildlife wrap the walls and crevices.
PC: Elroy Serrao
Charbagh Railway Station – Uttar Pradesh
The city of Nawabs welcomes its passengers in the red and white Charbagh Railway Station. The structure was built in the year 1914, which is mixture of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, overlooking a huge garden outside its entrance.
Under the station's cupola structure, is where Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have first met Gandhi in the year 1916. An aerial view of the structure along with its small and large domes looks like a chessboard, which is spread out with pawns.
Sawai Madhopur Junction – Rajasthan
As one would alight at the Sawai Madhopur station, which is the gateway to Rajasthan's Ranthambore National Park, one would be struck by the bright muralsthat adorn the walls. One can find a mammoth painting of a banyan tree, which covers the entire ceiling of the central hall.
The tree is painted in the lines of the original tree, which is inside the national park and is one of the largest in the country. There are paintings of tigers, flocks of birds, sloth bears which cover the platform walls and the pillars of this small station.
PC: Offical Site
Barog Railway Station – Himachal Pradesh
A small railway station on the Kalka Shimal Raliway, which is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has very a bright-hued history. The station was built in the year 1903 by one Colonel named Barog, the station has Scottish style gabled roof and is wrapped up by the breathtaking mountain views.
The station lies at the opening of a tunnel, which was also commissioned by the Colonel. He went about it in a very unusual way by starting excavations at both ends with an intention of meeting in the middle.
A miscalculation prevented that from happening and the disappointed Colonel shot himself dead in the incomplete tunnel and was buried near it. This paved way to ghost stories which haunt the station since then. However, a new tunnel was later completed with the help of local holy man. At present the station and the tunnel are popular stops on the heritage route.
PC: Anup Sadi
Howrah Junction – West Bengal
With 23 platforms, the station is one of the busiest stations in the country. With a confusion of bookshops, tea stalls and fast food stalls which provide guidance to the passengers. This is also one of the oldest station in India, the first train from Howrah ran in the year 1854 on August 15th to Hooghly.
The station is considered as feather in the cap of the British engineers, who represented a new era in the expansion dream of the colonial power. Situated on the banks of Hooghly river, the Howrah bridge leads up to the cherry red facade. The structure is a mixture of Romanesque and the traditional Bengali styles which sync to the surroundings.