“I like the toy trains the best,” said Aryan Bansal, 9, shyly, pointing to a miniature replica of the Deccan Queen.
He was among the scores of people that gathered at the heritage Western Railway headquarters on Saturday for a Fox Life heritage walk to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, organised as part of the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Restoration architect Sanaeya Vandrewala guided the walk, offering nuggets of history such as, “Did you know that the WR HQ was designed by British architect FW Stevens, who also designed CST?”This was paired with a trail through the grand terminus, and the railway museum within.
It was there that little Bansal was captivated by the tiny train.
On display were archival images of the construction of the railway tracks at Matheran, and the insides of old first, sleeper and third-class coaches. The museum also holds mini models of all the trains that have ever run on Mumbai’s rails.
Did you know that in 1905, the Prince of Wales visited Mumbai and the WR HQ was lit up to celebrate his arrival? “In those days, such lighting was done using strips of huge lightbulbs. A fire broke out as a result, destroying 40% of the building. Stevens’s son Charles was involved in its restoration, which took over a year,” Vandrewala said.
“I’ve only seen the facade from a distance. It’s so beautiful. It’s fascinating how it was built at a time we never saw, and yet has endured though the years,” said Hrishikesh Singh, 21, a journalism student. “It’s been fascinating to see it up close.”