The first railway line in India was inaugurated on 16th April, 1853 and ran the distance of 21 miles from Bori Bunder in Bombay to Thane. In May 1878, work on building a grand new terminus began under the architectural expertise of Mr. Frederick William Stevens, which took 10 years to complete. On 1st January, 1882, the Bombay Passenger Station was opened for traffic. The terminus was later re-named after the Queen Empress on Jubilee Day, in 1887.
The terminus was designed in a Gothic style, adapted to suit the Indian context. It displays exquisite ornamentation and embellishment on the front façade. The majestic dome is surmounted by a colossal figure representing ‘progress’, whereas each of the main gables carries a distinctive sculpture representing engineering, commerce and agriculture. The west front is approached by a grand gateway and sculptures of a lion and tiger couchant (representing England and India). The interior, consisting of a booking office, is created with Italian marbles, polished Indian blue stones and elaborate stone arches that are carved foliage and grotesques. Other features include a tessellated floor, dados of glazed tiles, stained glass windows and galleries of highly ornamented iron work executed by the students of J.J. School of Art.
After the remodelling of the terminus in 1929, the new buildings included refreshment rooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms. The former station, which adjoined it, was reserved for suburban traffic. The new wing had 13 platforms, the last five being exclusively used for trains running through various parts of India. Over the following decades, more additions and modifications were carried out to the original buildings. In time, Victoria Terminus, now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, came to be known as one of the finest railway stations ever created in the world.