Among all the modes of transport, the charm of a train journey remains unparalleled till date. No road trip and no air journey will give the traveller the thrill of seeing innumerable stations, some known and some nondescript, as the train chugs along on the tracks. Each such station that the train crosses seems like a window into the city, speaking volumes about the culture of the people who live in it; not to mention the gastronomic delights peculiar to that region. It indeed is a pleasure to see these stations as the train whizzes past, sometimes stopping and sometimes seemingly in too much of a hurry to rest.
Here are a few stations in India that are well known either for their architectural splendor or for the beauty that nature has rendered it.
Ghum Railway Station
Let’s begin with a railway station which is the home to the famous Ghum Monastery, and has splendid natural beauty. It has a height of 2,257 m (7,405 ft). One of the top 5 highest mountain railway stations of India, Ghum Railway Station is on the route of Darjeeling Himalayan Toy Railway and the narrow gauge railway line is listed as World Heritage Site. The station itself is very small but is rustic and aesthetically built.
HOWRAH JUNCTION – WEST BENGAL
Designed by the British architect Halsey Ricardo, Howrah, as the station is called, is resplendent with the Colonial architecture. It was inaugurated in 1905 and holds the status of being the oldest railway station in India. The station has 23 platforms and has the highest train handling capacity in India. Located on the banks of the River Hooghly, this station is linked to Kolkata by the famous Howrah bridge.
LUCKNOW CHARBAGH – UTTAR PRADESH
Built in 1926, this railway station is an echo of the Mughal Era with beautiful architecture. The building constructed in red brick, with long verandahs adorned with Mughal arches, is indeed a masterpiece. The station boasts of historical buildings designed in the shape of domes and minarets and four gardens within the complex.
Dudhsagar – Goa
Manmade architecture cannot be compared with the natural beauty of the Dudhsagar Railway Station. With vast stretches of the lush green deciduous forests all around, the spectacular Dudhsagar Falls gushing down from the higher reaches on one side, and the railway station on the other, presents a breathtaking view.
CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS – MAHARASHTRA
While mentioning well-known railway stations, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai, Maharashtra, previously known as the Victoria Terminus, is surely not be missed. The UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site. The structure is a Classical Architecture. Designed by Frederick William Stevens and Axel Haig, the building showcases Indo-Saracenic Style Architecture. CST was built in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
SRI MATA VAISHNO DEVI KATRA – JAMMU & KASHMIR
This railway station was built in 2014. Unlike most of the other railway stations which speak of an erstwhile era in India like the Mughal or the British, Sri Mata Vaishno Devi railway station in Katra has a modern architectural design and boasts of amenities like escalators, lifts, pilgrim guide, tourist assistance, VIP lounge, a fully air-conditioned hotel with a shopping lounge, multi-cuisine restaurant, to name a few.
India had an estimated 7,216 stations at the end of 2015-16 along its 119,630 km of total track. While the railway stations of major cities and towns are very prominent, there are also some very small aesthetically built railway stations at non-descript locations where the trains never stop. But, one can catch a glimpse of a bygone era in its architecture. The Devlali Railway Station with a grandfather clock dating back to the 18th C but still in perfect working condition and the Mhow Railway Station, recently renamed as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar Mhow Railway Station built in 1870, are two of such beautiful stations that catch one’s eye, while the train just seems to give a courtesy call and chugs past it.