Mumbaiwale: How did the Metro and Monorail stations get their names?

Along the Metro and Monorail, the stops point to histories old and new. Take a look
Ghatkopar station. As with the railway station and the suburb, in Marathi, ghat and kopar literally mean corner of the mountains, illustrating the edge of the western mountain range(Praful Gangurde)
Ghatkopar station. As with the railway station and the suburb, in Marathi, ghat and kopar literally mean corner of the mountains, illustrating the edge of the western mountain range(Praful Gangurde)
Updated on Sep 08, 2018 01:41 AM IST
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I thought it was just me, but nearly every Mumbaikar seems sceptical of an underground Metro line. Won’t it flood? What about ventilation? What happens when a train breaks down?

Londoners had similar doubts when the world got its first subterranean subway in 1863. The system, now called the Underground, went electric from steam 1890 and still ferries much of the city. There are now more than 150 Metro systems around the world (including in 10 cities in India) and some stations in China are so large, they run through more than one stop and have 100 exits.

The longest length: Shanghai, with 644km. The busiest: Beijing, with close to 4 billion riders across 18 lines. The most stations: New York with 424. The largest underground station: Tokyo’s Ginza, though Shinjuku’s 200 exits are just as intimidating. The biggest work in progress: Doha, which is building several lines at the same time and holds a Guinness World Record for ‘The Largest Number of Tunnel Boring Machines Operating Simultaneously in a Single Project’.

The systems are fascinating. Budapest’s is a Unesco world heritage site, Tokyo’s are famed for being on time (passengers get official slips when a train is delayed, so you can never fib if you’re late). Seoul’s might have the most frills: phone service, 4G WiFi, TVs, heated seats and AC. But they don’t run past midnight (unlike New York’s 24-hour services). Moscow’s stations, designed like palaces and cathedrals, might be the most opulent. But they’re as famous for letting stray dogs ride trains – the mutts apparently navigate the routes through smell and memory.

Frankly, I’d rather get off at Délices station than Absesses in France. I’d think Nana in Bangkok sounds cuter than Sol in Madrid. I wonder, though, if Washington’s Foggy Bottom will be worse than London’s Cockfosters.

Take a look at how Mumbai’s Metro and Monorail stops get their names.



An Anglicised version of Vesave, which means rest-stop (and may have been derived from the Sanskrit Vishram)


After Dadabhai Naoroji, who helped found the Indian National Congress, campaigned for freedom and had a home at one of the original Seven Bungalows, close by. There’s a government colony in Delhi called Nauroji Nagar; a Dadabhai Naoroji Road in Karachi and a Naoroji Street in London – all honouring the same man.


There’s an Azad Nagar in Delhi, Patna and Indore, and an upcoming building complex by that name in Wadala. This station, however, reflects the neighbourhood, which is named for freedom fighter Maulana Azad.


From Chakala village, records of which go back to 1588, when Marol village converted to Catholicism – and ‘Chaquelem’ was among the 13 villages that followed suit. And JB? After industrialist and freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj.


While it has a history of habitation that goes back centuries, the earliest record dates from a mass Catholic conversion in 1588. The area got its own church in 1840.


From one of the five villages that originally made up Powai: Saki, Kopri, Tirandaz and Powai.


As with the railway station and the suburb, in Marathi, ghat and kopar literally mean corner of the mountains, illustrating the edge of the western mountain range



The Thana District Gazetteer of 1882 records Chembur as the village the Arabs referred to as Saimur between 915 BC and 1137 AD. The Greek merchant Kosmas Indikopleustes who lived in 550 refers to it as Sibor. A Kanheri cave inscription from 300-500 calls it Chemula. It was home to 1591 people in 1882. The Gazetter also notes that Chembur’s only interesting feature is an animal home for cows, bullocks, buffaloes, horses, ponies, asses, deer, goats, pigs, dogs, monkeys, cats and hares; and also birds, parrots, fowls, geese, duck, pigeons, crows and peacocks. The home’s managers called their neighbourhood Chimod.


Why the alphabet soup? The station leads to two roads. One is named for Vitthal Narayan Purav, a sarpanch and freedom fighter who signed a pact allowing Burma Shell (now BPCL) to use the land and help turn his marshy village into a town after Independence. He also opened the area’s first school, and offered refuge to Sindhis who fled Pakistan during Partition. The road adopted his name in 1968.

RC Marg is named for Ramkrishna Chemburkar, another freedom fighter and philanthropist who served as the municipal corporator in 1952. He helped set up a local school and library and funded construction of the road that was named after him in 1966.


For its proximity to the Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers plant, which was set up in 1978.


It leads to the entrance of the Bharat Petroleum crude oil refinery and processing plant in Mahul. The station largely serves the residents of 72 Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) buildings, who have been rehabilitated close by.


Possibly from vad, meaning banyan tree, indicating this was far greener than it is today.

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