The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in Mumbai
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) in Mumbai
File Photo

Mumbai: For heritage lovers, there’s good news. The Railways ministry has provided some of the wherewithal for the restoration and conservation of Bandra railway station and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), built in the late 1800s. While on the one hand, Bandra has received around 42 per cent of the total sanctioned funding, on the other, the process of converting CSMT into a World Heritage Museum has finally begun, having received funding in the 2021-22 Budget.

Western Railway received a huge chunk of Rs 5 crore for the restoration and conservation of Bandra heritage railway station. “We have begun work to restore the look that the station had when it was first opened in 1888,” said a WR official. “The funding will surely help in expediting this work”.

Of the total sanctioned cost of Rs 12.07 crore for the restoration of this Grade I heritage structure, the WR authorities had spent Rs 19.32 lakh by March 2020. Then Covid-19 threw the spanner in the works.

Sources said that as part of the revamp, the authorities and experts are broadly making 20 changes to restore the magnificent, Gothic Victorian style of the edifice. Over the last couple of years, considerable changes are evident, including clean walls, floors and roofs.

Part of the conservation process includes restoration of the cast-iron finials, the fitting of Mangalore tiles, restoration of the eaves, the glass framework and the stone surface. The doors will also be restored to their original glory. The cement plaster will be gone and the station’s signage too will be redesigned.

Over the past century, the intricate teakwood work has suffered damage and haphazard changes were made to the structure. Termites have eaten into the intricate woodwork framing the doors, windows and the panels. There are leakage issues, with water seepage eroding the structural integrity. Moreover, several offices in the building had false ceilings installed, casting off the solid old doors and windows.

Likewise, the Central Railway has received funding for the restoration of the CSMT world-class UNESCO station and its transformation into a world-class museum. For the conservation of CSMT, senior CR officials said that they had received Rs 60 lakh in this Budget. They also received Rs 10 lakh for the first time, to facilitate the conversion of the existing heritage building into a world-class museum at a cost of Rs 25 crore.

“We have carried out major works in the restoration of this world heritage site during the lockdown, on this Rs 51-crore project,” said a CR official. Sculptors from Rajasthan have also been called in to repair the dilapidated gargoyles, and the restoration of certain granite and marble work is also on the agenda.

Also on the to-do list is the cleaning of the dome and its walls, with drones having been deployed to identify cobwebs and dusty spots. The staircase at the terminus leads to the first and second floors, which are a blend of Victorian Gothic Revival and Indian architecture. The dome has small rectangular tiles, in a combination of green, grey and sand colours. The project has been divided into various sub-works, such as the restoration of the western facade (facing DN Road), the stained glass work, and the restoration of the sky-lit concourse.

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