Prestigious UNESCO Award to Byculla Railway Station Heritage Restoration Project

FPJ BureauUpdated: Monday, November 28, 2022, 12:36 AM IST
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It's a great honour and moment of pride for all Mumbaikars and Indians at large as our oldest Railway Station Railway station receives the prestigious UNESCO award for merit at the UNESCO ASIA PACIFIC AWARDS FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE CONSERVATION 2022.

Byculla Railway Station, India's oldest railway station commissioned in 1853, was recently renovated and has been restored to its almost original, ancient, heritage architectural glory with excellence.

The project was inaugurated at the hands of Raosaheb Danve Patil, Minister of State, Ministry of Railways and Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of the Opposition, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

This heritage restoration project was initiated by Shaina NC Trustee, I LOVE MUMBAI, daughter of Ex-Sheriff of Mumbai and Founder of I Love Mumbai and Giants International, the late Padmashree Nana Chudasama with the support of Minal Bajaj and Niraj Bajaj of Bajaj Group Trusts and Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation who willingly and wholeheartedly spent over Rs.4 crore, and Renowned Heritage Conservation Architect Abha Narain Lambah, of Abha Narain Lambah Associates, Conservation Architects and Historic Building Consultants, who graciously consented to do the project PRO BONO as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and with the full support, cooperation and able guidance of Central Railway officials.

Minal and Niraj Bajaj of Bajaj Trust Groups and Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation have not only sponsored the cost of the project but painstakingly overseen the project from start to finish. Continuing to ensure that the cleanliness and beauty is maintained.

All thanks to Ms Abha Lambah without whose architectural skills and workmanship it would not be complete. Mobin the civil contractor who toiled tirelessly to complete this project and last but most importantly, the Railway Ministry and Central Railway authorities who extended their full support and cooperation to make this project one of pride for Mumbaikars under the able guidance of Sh. Anil Kumar Lahoti, General Manager Central and Western Railway & Sh. Shalabh Goel, DRM, Mumbai Division, Central Railway

 Scope of work done for restoration of the heritage architecture:

 Historic Byculla railway station was built in 1853 and is the oldest station along the Bombay-Thane Railway line. The modest building is built in the Gothic style of architecture and is a protected Grade II A heritage building under the Heritage Regulations for Greater Bombay, 1995.

The restoration and up-gradation works of the building has been executed by the contracting team of M/s Qais Construction Pvt. Ltd involving a holistic upgradation and exterior façade restoration as accessed from the west entrance of the station.

The building overtime underwent various alterations and additions along the façade such as blocking of archways and windows, addition of toilet blocks, blocking of verandahs etc.

After restoration, the verandahs open into two ticketing areas which have been restored and upgraded. The old ticketing counter revealed a historic cast iron grill design which has been restored back to original.

 The new ticketing window was also redesigned sensitively without causing any damage to the historic building fabric.

Offices of the station master, staff offices, ticketing areas have been upgraded with new interiors and furniture. Toilet for staff has also been upgraded as a part of this project.

 Signage which is a very important component of design has been implanted using original signage bracket designs discovered on site during the restoration works.

 The grill is now painted as per the historic paint scrapes found on site and stands of teak wood paneling forming a large ticketing window with a tinted glass fanlight.

The exercise of facade restoration included cleaning of the basalt stone facade, restoration of original fenestration such as doors, windows, grills and gates.

Restoration of the timber truss roof, Mangalore tiles and smaller lean-to roofs along the facade was done. Addition of ramps, steps etc was also done in order to make the station accessible to all.

 More importantly, the restoration works were carried out without interrupting the functioning of staff and movement commuters.

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