Inspired by St Pancras Station in London, F.W. Stevens designed Victoria Terminus, the barmiest of Mumbai’s buildings, as a paean to “progress”. Built in 1887 as the largest British edifice in India, it’s an extraordinary amalgam of domes, spires, Corinthian columns and minarets that was succinctly defined by the journalist James Cameron as “Victorian-Gothic-Saracenic-Italianate-Oriental-St Pancras-Baroque”. In keeping with the current re-Indianization of the city’s roads and buildings, this icon of British imperial architecture has been renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, in honour of the famous Maratha warlord. The new name is a bit of a mouthful, however, and locals mostly still refer to it as VT (pronounced “vitee”).

Few of the three million or so passengers who fill almost a thousand trains every day notice the mass of decorative detail. A “British” lion and Indian tiger stand guard at the entrance, and the exterior is festooned with sculptures executed at the Bombay Art School by the Indian students of John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard’s father. Among them are grotesque mythical beasts, monkeys, plants and medallions of important personages. To minimize the sun’s impact, stained glass was employed, decorated with locomotives and elephant images. Above it all, the statue of “Progress” stands atop the massive central dome.

A polished black marble memorial next to the station’s main entrance commemorates the 58 passengers and staff gunned down by terrorists during the 26/11 attack.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Modernity is seeping into Old Delhi, a walled district that has long harboured the Indian capital’s traditional ways of life. But what does this mean for long…

11 Dec 2017 • Jack Palfrey local_activity Special feature
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right