The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus still continues to be called Victoria Terminus aka VT by a lot of locals. The site is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mumbai (Elephanta Caves and the Victorian Art Deco buildings in Fort being the other two) and serves as the head quarters of the Central Railways in India. CST/VT is a fully functioning station and has a footfall of over 600,000 people per day, making it one of the busiest station in Mumbai.
Back in 2006, when I had recently moved to Mumbai, I would disembark at VT every morning, along with thousands of fellow commuters and walk to my office. I would always be in such a rush to get to work on time that never did I spend more than five minutes at the CST/VT station.
A decade later, neither do I take the train to work nor is my office close to VT… but I feel drawn to this building more than ever before. Ankur and I have spent many mornings clicking pictures of this architectural beauty and other buildings in the Fort area of Mumbai. This Sunday morning, Ankur and I decided to pick up my new Asus ZenFone 2 Laser and find some hidden gems in this Victorian architectural wonderland.
Read on for some interesting stuff about CST/VT…
The building was designed by Fredrick William Stevens, an English architect who worked for the British Colonial government in India. The building clearly has strong influences of the Victorian Gothic architecture…tall and grand, gargoyles, pointed arches and stained glass. It has a C-shaped plan which is symmetrical on an east-west axis, each side being equally elaborate in design.
The construction of the station took 10 years to complete and was opened to Queen Victoria on the date of her Golden Jubilee in 1887. At the time, the building was the most expensive structure in Mumbai costing 260,000 Sterling Pounds.
The building is ‘crowned’ by a central dome, adorned with statue of a lady. If India would have had strong linkages with the Greeks or the Romans in the past, I would have assumed it represents one of the many mythological goddesses. Actually, the female figure symbolises Progress, holding a torch pointing upwards in her right hand and a spoked wheel in her left hand. Sadly, one can’t stand right under the dome as it part of the railway office premises. Hope to be able to see this glorious structure from inside someday!
I always thought that the columns of the main entrance are guarded by a lion and lioness…and I was wrong. A little bit of reading has enlightened me with the following fact..the columns have a lion and a tiger (not a lioness). The lion symbolises Great Britain and the tiger symbolises India.
Not all gargoyles are same…some are crouched, ready to spring forward, others hold a ‘ball’ and some have their fore limbs stretched out. They add a unique definition to a building and stress on the Gothic influences even more.
Don’t expect to find cute little bunny rabbit and birds carved in to the walls. There are plenty of carvings …but of foxes, menacing monkeys, owls and wild cats. It is always interesting to find a new animal ‘hidden’ somewhere. I would have loved to find some happy and gentle beings, but Fredrick William Stevens and I don’t have the same thoughts, as is evident.
Lastly, in your rush to buy a ticket, don’t miss out the stained glass window at the ticket counter and the large wooden doors and arches! Stop for a few minutes…and look around. Life is a journey…savour every moment!
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser…my views …
I was pretty happy with the performance of the camera in daylight. All images above are clicked with the phone and have not been edited at all. The focus was good and most images were sharp; the ‘laser focussing technology’ seemed to do a good job! The auto mode worked well and captured moving vehicles without any blurs…thumbs p to that! The zoom worked well so long as I stayed within an 80% mark…anything more than that made me lose the sharpness of the image.
Here are some features of the camera that I really liked…
Smart Remove… Let me cut out vehicles while clicking the building
Miniature… Blurred the background, except for the object that was focussed on
Depth of Field… Brought out the depth of field, which was great to have in a cell phone camera
Manual… Let me adjust the ISO and other settings to click a better picture.
All Smiles … Clicks five photos and lets you pick the perfect smile. However, this did not seem to work well in the Selfie mode, which was disappointing.
The performance of the camera in low light was very average, with moving objects losing their sharpness in the image. In all fairness , it’s only a DSLR that does real justice to shooting in low light. Lastly, I think saturation in the auto mode is on the higher side. The blue colour of the sky has a different intensity than it did in real life.
Looking forward to a few more experiments with the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser… I might just take it along with me to Myanmar!
We were given the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser to play with and write this review.