16th April, 1853, it was on this day a historic feat had been achieved, it was on this day many dreams came true and it was on this day, the commute in Mumbai got changed overnight. It was on this day, the first train started and arrived at the Bori Bunder station which later called the Victoria Terminus and now called as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
This was the day fixed for its maiden journey to India and by afternoon already hundreds and thousands of people had gathered in & around the station to witness the history in the making. For a fact, the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Corporation spent 10,000 Euros back then 163 years ago to lay down the 34kms stretch between Bori Bunder to Thane. More than 10,000 dedicated labourers were employed for a period of one month to create that railway line.
The 300ft platform was beautifully decorated and lit up with thousands thronging in line to get a glimpse of the first arrival of Train on an Indian soil. The powerful british native lords came from all over India to be a witness to the inauguration ceremony while members of the British Royal Family were the highly escorted distinguished guests in the opening ceremony. Chief Justice Sir William Yardley & his lady, Naval Commander Sir Henry Leake, the chairman of the company Mr. Swanson were amongst the many distinguished guests who were present and accommodated in the carriage which was reserved only for the State Dignitaries. The moment which everyone will remember will be when the Garrison band in the third class compartment struck the first strains of ‘God Save the Queen” and simultaneously 21 powder guns were shot and roared in the air from the nearby St. George as a royal welcome salute to the Asia’s 1st train comprising of 14 carriages and 500 distinguished guests reaching the Bori Bunder Platform pulled by two gigantic monster like engines at sharp 3:30pm in the noon. After the train left that day, it halted at Sion for 15minutes for watering the engines and oiling the new wheels. Finally from Bori Bunder it arrived in Thane with a warm welcome coming at a speed of 35km/hr and reaching in just 55minutes.
The jostling crowds went berserk and were present at every nook and corner to get a glimpse of their very own 1st train. The distinguished guests on the 1st day were entertained to a lavish party where governor’s band provided soft and lifting music followed by raising a toast and then showering eulogies on all the people who made this feat possible. The 2nd day was again made available as a joyride only for influential Parsi families including that of Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy and the train was finally open for public use from 3rd day i.e from 18th April, 1863 which changed the entire perception of daily commute in Mumbai.