It is rather fitting that the Howrah railway station in Kolkata should be accorded heritage status during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as the Union Railways Minister.
Come Independence Day (15 August), the Department of Posts will be issuing commemorative stamps on the 155th anniversary of the Howrah railway station - prided for its grand architectural grandness with brick arches and lofty towers seen from across the Hoogly river.
For the first time postage stamps are being released on railway stations, Executive Director (Heritage) Rajesh Agarwal told HT.
A set of four stamps of Rs.5 each on the Howrah and three other railway stations in metropolitan cities —Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) besides the Chennai Central and the Old Delhi stations —will be released.
Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, will release the stamps at a special function at Platform no 22 at the Howrah station on August 16.
Logically, Howrah ought to have been India’s first railway station - had it not been for that historical mishap in 1853. The ship carrying the coaches sank in the Hoogly River, while the steam locomotive was mis-dispatched to Australia.
From its humble beginning of one train in 1854, Howrah —now counted among the world’s largest stations —handles over a million passengers a day through 23 platforms and over 300 pairs of trains.
Starting out from a modest tin shed, Howrah’s real makeover took place between 1901 to 1905. Inspired from Halsey Ralph Ricardo’s designs in Romanesque style, the magnificent structure continues to stand out.
The first train chugged out of Howrah —then headquarters of the East India Railways—in 1854 and ran a distance of 40 kilometers from Howrah to Hoogly on August 15, 1854.