On going through the main doors of Mumbai CST building, the first thing you notice is a magnificent stone lion at the foot of a grand staircase. The lion holds the coat of arms of GIP Railway. The sculpture is likely to have been created by Indian craftsmen.
The Grand Staircase
Made in large proportions is the grand staircase. The steps are of black stone which shows hardly any sign of wear and tear. Extraordinarily thick walls support the entire staircase.
The elegant wrought-iron balustrades have polished teak wood on top and look almost like new.
If you look up, you can see the dome high above the staircase. It has an octagonal ribbed structure. The central dome acts as a focal point for the entire structure. According to the archives of Central Railway it is the first masonry dome in a Gothic building in Mumbai.
There are stained glass windows all around the base of the dome. This is the only stone dome of its kind on any railway station in the world.
We climbed up the winding staircase on to the first floor. Here we could look down on the Star Chamber. It is the exceptionally beautiful hall which now accommodates ticket counters in the North Wing . Italian marble decorates the Star Chamber. Colours like yellow, cyan and pure gold adorn the vaulted ceiling.
Star Chamber must surely be one of the most appealing settings anywhere in the world for buying train tickets. It has a high ceiling and soaring arches. However the harried commuter often has no time to look up and relish the beauty.
Please view the video above to get an overview of Star Chamber.
We then moved on to a balcony on the first floor. Here we could look upon another pleasing Gothic structure: the headquarters of Mumbai Municipal Corporation. The architect was the same here, F.W. Stevens.
I could see one more grand structure, the Times of India building, when I looked down on D.N. Road. The road leads to Crawford Market which is also a heritage structure.
Sandstone, limestone, polished Indian blue stone and Italian marble have all been used in the construction. The workmanship is of a high order. The building is encrusted with stone animals. Protruding from its walls are crocodiles, dogs, cats, lizards and gargoyles.
On the second floor, we were served tea and biscuits in the Heritage Lounge. The lounge is enclosed in glass and has cane chairs.
Initially GIP Railway had ten directors. This included two Indian directors, Jugannath Shankarsett and Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy. On the front wall of the building, we can see busts of all ten directors. In the picture above are Lord Reay and Lord Elphinstone.
On top of the building stands a massive statue (16.6 feet tall) of a lady holding aloft a flaming torch in her right hand. In her left hand is a spoked wheel.
The photo above shows pedestrians going past the North Wing on Dadabhai Naoroji Road. Part of the huge wrought iron gate is also visible. A stone lion guards the gate.