The oldest railway stations in India | So Good News


Remember the iconic train scene of Raj and Simran from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge? Or the scenes on stations and trains from Jab We Met, Dil Se, Chennai Express….? It’s no wonder that train travel is highly romanticized in India. Sitting near the window and watching as it flows past fields, rivers, forests and hills – it’s something we all must have experienced at least once in our lives.

As beautiful as it is to watch these passing scenes from the trains, it is equally exciting to experience the chaos of Indian railway stations which are full of life. From serving delicious samosas to kulhar chai, people waiting for their family members to arrive in trains to coolies running to get customers, there is something about railway stations that adds to your journey of a lifetime.

It has now been nearly two centuries since the first train was launched in India in 1853 from the first railway station in India, called Bori Bunder in Mumbai. And today, approximately 30 million passengers travel across the country per day. This travel season, we give you a selection of some of the oldest railway stations in the country that ooze chaos, charm and history in buckets and buckets.

Howrah, Kolkata

Howrah Station is located on the banks of the Hooghly River

The station is India’s oldest railway station. It was built in 1852 but commenced operations in 1853. Known to be one of the world’s busiest railway stations, Howrah Railway Junction has 23 platforms serving one million passengers with 600 passenger trains on a daily basis. The historic red structure holds an important place in India’s railway history as it was also one of the stations where the first train in India passed through. Built in a Romanesque style of architecture, the iconic clock building was designed by British architect Halsey Ralph Richard. It has tall towers, huge brick arches and windows.

Royapuram Railway Station, Chennai

Considered to be India’s second oldest railway station, Royapuram Railway Station is 167 years old. It was inaugurated on 1 July 1856 by Lord Harris. The first passenger train to leave the station carried the Governor of the Madras Presidency, Lord Harris and 300 European delegates. The railway station was constructed by the Madras Railway Company, with the heritage building designed by William Adelpi Tracey. The architecture of the structure follows grand Corinthian columns inspired by the colonial style with the red and white color of the building. The station underwent a renovation in 2005, but still does not experience much traffic due to defunct routes.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai

Inside one of the busiest stations in India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

A prime example of the amalgamation of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture with traditional Indian architectural elements, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose construction began in 1878 and was completed in 1888. Formerly known as Victoria Terminus (until 1995), the station was designed by the British the architect FW Stevens who also took some inspiration from the late Italian medieval models. The octagonal ribbed dome crowns the terminus with statues and carvings of peacocks, tigers and other wildlife. It is made up of yellow sandstone, forming huge arches that have cracks along with distinctive gargoyles, making it one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.

Charbagh Railway Station, Lucknow

Charbagh Railway Station, located in the city of Nawabs, was built in 1915. Considered an architectural marvel, the station is built in a manner that looks like a chess game when seen from the air. The Indo Saracenic Style, along with Mughal, Awadh and Rajput architectural designs, was designed by architect JH Horniman. It has its historical significance as it is believed that the first Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time in the quarters of Charbagh railway station. As the name suggests, Charbagh – meaning four gardens – is surrounded by three beautiful gardens and a sprawling garden towards the entrance. It also has an adjacent Choti Line, which can be understood as an extension of the station and is also functional. The majestic arches painted in red and white add to the beauty of the structure.


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