Shraddha Bhatawadekar: A Railway Station as a Visual Narrative: Understanding the Railway Heritage of India in a Global Context. The Case of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai

Railway stations built in the late 19th and early 20th century constitute a part of a larger process of internationalization, which witnessed the transfer of technology, material, people and knowhow across the world. Therefore, international influences are evident in station architecture, aesthetic, engineering and technological advancements. But at the same time, adaptations to suit local conditions have shaped and reshaped these processes, resulting in a hybrid product. Viewing a station building as an archive can offer numerous glimpses into this exchange and amalgam. This subject is hitherto less researched in the Indian context. In her PhD research, Bhatawadekar focuses on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Terminus (CSMT), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mumbai, and aims at exploring its multi-layered cultural significance. She will look at the period from 1853 when the railways first ran in Mumbai until the end of 1920s. She attempts at reading the station along with other visual and literary material, draws on select processes, contexts and actors to demonstrate the hybridity in station development. This paper aims at establishing a holistic significance of railway heritage, and will also place the narrative of Indian railway heritage within a global context.


Shraddha Bhatawadekar is a research associate at the Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany and affiliated with the DFG Research Training Group “Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings”. She is currently pursuing her PhD on the topic of Indian railway heritage, with a special focus on the case of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the city of Mumbai. Using a critical lens, she aims to develop a holistic understanding of its cultural significance. Bhatawadekar obtained an MA in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology from Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, India. She has actively worked in the field of heritage management and conservation. She takes special interest in heritage education and has organized several outreach programs. She has written widely on the topics of heritage, culture and tourism in academic journals, books as well as in regional newspapers and magazines. Bhatawadekar has received the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship (2015–16) and the Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellowship (2016–17), which has further reinforced transcultural approach in her research.

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