When someone says “There’s a museum inside CST Station”, and further adds that “Yeah, It’s open on weekdays for a couple of hours in the afternoon,’ there’s disbelief at our end. Is this for real? Why is a museum being so suspect, we wonder. Located inside one of the busiest spots in the city, why would a museum still be so inaccessible? If we’ll have to bunk work to check it out, is it even worth our boss’s ire?

To keep all questions at {Bom}bay, we decided to check out the Heritage Museum inside the premises of the CST and see if it was worth it.

Welcome to the Jungle

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Used to walking through the main doors of CST to catch a train back home, we had to backtrack a little. We found the entrance to the museum quite easily near the main entrance. For a weekday afternoon there were, remarkably enough, quite a few people present – mostly college students, gazing intently at the museum walls.

Owls, A Tea Room And A Library

How To Make The Railway Pay For A War, Mills & Boons, as well as books by Daphne Du Maurier and John Grisham are some of the books we found inside the Heritage Museum. The first, which possibly is the most intriguing book title we’ve come across in recent times, was a heavy, leather-bound book in the dining hall that we would have loved a chance to leaf through. The rest were a part of the ‘restricted entry’ library collection meant just for railway employees: a collection so fun, enviable and a complete opposite of the dining hall collection, that we felt like inventing a familial connection to the railways just to get access.

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As soon as we entered the main central building, we were impressed by detailed and intricate engravings of tiny owls and birds on the walls and pillars. These, combined with a magnificent three-storey high staircase, was enough to transport us back to Hogwarts.

We also had a chance to view the hustle and bustle of the main terminal from above, sit in a glass-walled tea room and check out colonial-era furniture which is now used for conferences and meetings.

Turning Time, Keys and Pages

By this time, much of the group had dispersed and we were able to ask impertinent questions. Thanks to a keen guide, we turned a key in a grandfather’s clock {so old-school} while he explained the mechanism of how CST’s clock tower works in a similar way.

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We heard about how steam engines turned to diesel, Bori Bunder {its original name} turned to VT to CST, and saw old Morse telegraph machines along with an actual telegraph book with the codes for different messages {talk about well-prepared}.

At the same time, we also felt a little inadequate on hearing about how the architect, FW Stevens was invited to draw up plans for the station when he was just 20 years old, but we brushed the thought aside.

Finally as we were exiting CST, we were waved goodbye to by a cheerful guide, and were yawned at by a disinterested cat lazily stretched upon a model locomotive. And we thought to ourselves, what a wonderful world.

Though the question of the inconvenient timings lingers on, it’s a place worth visiting when we have a lighter schedule at office.

Where: Heritage Museum at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Station. The entrance is in the right wing of the building, near the bus stands.

When: Weekdays only, and closed on public holidays

Price: INR 200; INR 100 for students

Photos: Athul Prasad/LBB