Thanks to my friends who happen to tolerate my fascination for old pics of our cities and our famous landmarks, I’ve been able to get pics of Madras Central Station from the 1870s till the 1980s.
I must confess that these are not mine, and I don’t even know whether they belong to my friends who have so kindly sent them along to me. Quite a few show up on the Net, as a quick and casual Google Image search showed – but I still haven’t been able to track down the owner/s. In case I have unknowingly violated somebody’s copyright, please do write to me, and I will remove them.
The set of pics are quite fascinating – over a little more than a century, it’s really wonderful to see how this famous landmark has evolved, while still remaining essentially the same. The exterior of the building still has the gracious majesty of the earlier days, and now she rests amidst the traffic of the late 20th century, like a haven for the traveler eager to catch his or her train.
The first pic has a legend in Gujarati – perhaps some of my friends in Ahmedabad could help in tracking down the source of this lithograph – this is the grand old lady from the 1870s.
Over the next half-century, her surroundings changed a lot – pedestrians and bullock carts have given way to cars and cycles. The clear view of the sky is now criss-crossed with electricity and telegraph wires. (Incidentally, the pic on the left is from 1905 or thereabouts, and the one on the right is from 1925 or so. )
The next three pictures are from 1943 (the one at the top), 1963 and the 1980s (in colour).
The cart, the tram and the guide cables for the trams have given way to cars, and the lady has now donned a very becoming livery of silver and deep red.
It’s nice to see the lady so completely unruffled by the hustle bustle of the century odd that she’s been a silent witness to. And she hasn’t aged a bit – she always was and remains a beauty.