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News Entry# 289222
Dec 21 2016 (07:39)  Bye-bye Byculla (
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Commentary/Human InterestML/Mumbai Local  -  

News Entry# 289222   Blog Entry# 2098095     
   Past Edits
Dec 21 2016 (7:40AM)
Station Tag: Byculla/BY added by rdb*^/69261
Stations:  Byculla/BY  
Posted by: rdb*^  132872 news posts
To fit in a new rail corridor, Central Railway will demolish one of the city’s oldest railway stations
Mumbai: “Arriving at the Byculla Railway Station, a traveller in Bombay in the 1860s could avail of H.D. Johnson’s hansom cab service and make his way to one of the city’s early hotels run predominately by Parsi proprietors. Advertisements boasted of commodious and comfortable accommodation, a staff of numerous servants and attendants, a selection of the choicest wines, spirits and beers, and a first class Thurston billiard table.”
So begins writer and Mumbai history enthusiast
Simin Patel’s Ph.D. thesis chapter on nineteenth-century hotels in the city. She says that some of the earliest hotels in the city, which catered to Parsi, Irani and European travellers, were centred around the station; it was a landmark with hotels advertising themselves as being near the station, and the exclusive Byculla Club often considered moving premises because it was not close enough to the station.
Research for her thesis has given her deep familiarity with the Byculla of the past, and she’s sad that the centre of it all, the railway station building, will soon cease to exist.
“The entire building will have to go,” a senior railway official told The Hindu. Although this change will begin properly in only two or three years, eventually the station building, which dates back to the 1860s, will have to be reconstructed to make way for two new rail lines, part of the plan to augment Central Railway’s (CR) Main Line services.
For history enthusiasts and conservationists, this is a tragedy. Ms. Patel counts herself as one of those, describing her interest in conserving Mumbai's heritage as a “personal investment.” Passionate about the city, Ms. Patel, with some college friends, founded the blog Bombaywalla three years ago, to document the city's historically significant structures and buildings. She says she was alarmed to find that changes were to be made to it; changes that, in the words of her post on Bombaywalla, are “inconceivable.” What do we lose, she asks, in the process of changing things?
“It is a classic story of development versus heritage,” Rajendra Aklekar, says railway historian and author of Halt Station India. “It is true that Mumbai needs additional rail lines, but we also do not have much of a culture of heritage conservation and upkeep in India. We can just pray that railway authorities document and save important relics of the station.” He suggests that at least some parts of the station — like the ticket counter, which bears the insignia of Great Peninsular Indian Railway, the first railway line, and the stained-glass windows, grill-work and doors at the entrance and ticket office area — be salvaged be moved to the heritage gallery at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Dipak Gandhi, of the Mumbai Suburban Railway Passengers’ Association, says that passengers and commuters at the station, contrary to popular belief, do not simply want an expanded structure, or connectivity to more parts of the city. What would benefit the station is what CR needs across its entire suburban network: improved frequency of trains, sector-wise clearance, and a cyclic timetable. “Stations like Byculla do not have much of a congestion problem. Most overcrowding is because there are not enough trains within a time window of two to three minutes, and there is no timetable telling passengers when the train will come.” He is unequivocal about his feelings for the building: “Byculla Station is one of the oldest and most beautiful stations. It is like a royal structure. We hope they work to preserve it.”
Preservation is what Ms. Patel and her Bombaywalla collaborators are aiming for. “But right now we are just a blog. We are looking to expand, over the next two months, into a company. Getting registered as a company would allow us to have money and resources to be able to speak to corporators, to the municipal corporation of Mumbai, and to local government officials.” Aside from playing what she hopes will be a larger role in preserving the city’s heritage, Bombaywalla will also organise walking heritage tours of the city. One of their tours, to begin in January, is focused on Byculla. “We will look at the cafes, the ‘khada Parsi’ statue, the station, and the sense of the fashionable community it was back in the day. There are also many pieces of history in the region still — Palace Cinema, Regal Restaurant, Byculla Bakery and Restaurant — that we want to show people.”
Mr. Aklekar agrees that there is much to be done for conservation: "Documenting the parts of the station that will go away will help future generations understand the importance of India's railway lines history. These are central pieces of Indian Railway history and deserve respect.”
The writer is an intern with The Hindu

Dec 21 2016 (07:40)
rdb*^   31851 blog posts   408126 correct pred (82% accurate)
Re# 2098095-1            Tags   Past Edits
To fit in a new rail corridor, Central Railway will demolish one of the city’s oldest railway stations
Bye-bye Byculla
sad state and that is the cost of development
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