Western Railway Stations Name & History

Ever wondered why there is no church at Churchgate? Why Dhobi Talao has no water? Why we can find no lady's fingers at Bhendi Bazaar?
Many other stations too have logical roots in history - named either after legendary people, age-old traditions or businesses carried on in the area or for unknown reasons.
The Western Railway's suburban section in Mumbai stretches from Churchgate, the city's business centre, to Virar covering a span of 60km and 28 stations. The section was further extended upto Dahanu Road adding 10 more stations and another 60km. What began as a steam traction way back in April 1867, with one train each way between Grant Road and Bassien Road, was extended upto Churchgate in 1870,and by 1900, 44 trains on each way were carrying over one million passengers annually. Today more than 6 million people travel per day on the Mumbai suburban section alone, of which, Western Railway carries approximately 3 million passengers per day.

Churchgate was named after the old Church Gate demolished in the mid-1860s which was one of the three main gates to the Fort - the gate that afforded entry to St. Thomas' Church. When the station was built in close proximity to the position of the demolished outer gate, it was considered logical to name it after this antique urban object d'art. The ancient gate stood as an entrance to the church on the spot that flora fountain stands today. It formed the boundary of south Mumbai in the 16th centuries. One of the busiest stations today, the first train here is timed at 4 am and the last one leaves the station at 1 am.

Old photos of churchgate station

The name is derived from the fact that Charne in Marathi applies to grazing and in the earlier days grazing lands for horses and cattle were located nearby. The main significance of Charni Road station is that it is very near to the Girgaum Chowpatti, a major destination for tourists and south Mumbai residents looking for a peaceful walk on the beach. According to another theory, the name Charni or Chendni was brought to this area from Thane. A locality near Thane Railway station is called Chendni and many of its inhabitants settled in Girgaum and so renamed the settlement after their old home.

This station is named after Sir Robert Grant, who was the Governor of Bombay between 1835 and 1839, who was responsible for the construction of the Thane and Colaba causeways. Grant Road station is the most centrally located arterial station in South Mumbai and easily connects to all prominent place such as Gaumdevi,Girgaum Chowpatty, Babulnath, Malabar Hill, Peddar Road, Nepean Sea Rd via Nana Chowk on the West, to Duncan Rd, Dongri, Byculla(Central Railway)via Maulana Shaukatali Road and to Khetwadi, C P Tank, Mumbadevi, Mandvi, Bhuleshwar, via Sardar Vallabhai Patel Road. The road after which this station is named (now Maulana Shaukat Ali Road) was built around 1839 when its surroundings were virtually open country.
The Mahalakshmi station is named after the Mahalakshmi temple.

The area of Parel is named after the paral or padal, the trumpet-flower tree which once grew profusely in the area. According to another scholarly theory, Parel is a shortened form of Parali, a name given by the Panchkalshi community to commemorate the shrine of Vaijnath Mahadeo (Shiva) at Parali in the Deccan. Parel was one of the original seven islands that formed Mumbai. It belonged to the 13th century kingdom of Raja Bhimdev. When the Portuguese conquered Bombay, they gave the authority of this area to the Jesuit priests, who replaced the Parali Mahadev temple with a church and a convent. They remained with the Jesuits until they were confiscated by the British, when the priests sided with the Sidis during their battle with the British in 1689 and spelt the area as Parell.

Elphinstone Road, named after Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay from 1853 to 1860, is a railway station on the Western line of the Mumbai suburban railway. The road after which this station gets its name is now called Bhatankar Marg. It was formerly named after John, Lord Elphinstone the Governor of Bombay from 1853 to 1860. The city's progress in the 1850s and 1860s was due to the insight of this Governor and his successor, Sir Bartley Freer.

According to one belief the word Matunga originates from the Marathi word, matang or elephant, owing to the belief that tuskers from Raja Bhimdev's army were stationed in the area around the 12th century. During the British Raj, Matunga served as an artillery station but was abandoned by 1835 except for a couple of small hamlets housing the descendants of former menials at the military camp.

Mahim was one of the seven islands that originally made up Mumbai. Mahim, or Mahikawati as it was known, was the capital of Raja Bhimdev in the 13th century. He built a palace and a court of justice in Prabhadevi, as well as the first Babulnath temple. The original Mahim town is located near Palghar about 60 miles north of Bombay. The ancient temple of Mahim or Mahikawati still exists there. The epic Ramayana mentions that when Ram and Laxman were captured by Ahiravan and Mahiravan, they were imprisoned in this temple. They were rescued by Hanuman from here. As it is known to the people who live in this beautiful village of Mahim; that after Raja Bhimdev lost his capital, i.e. Mahim, to another king, he established his new capital in the present Bombay region giving it the same name Mahim. This fact is not known to most people. Mahim is also the name of a prominent Iranian family, whose members reside in both Iran and Canada.
Bandra is a possibly an altered pronunciation of 'Vandre', a Marathi name. There are other views on the origin of the name: like its relation to some Portuguese princess and it being derived from "Bandar-gah" in Hindi, which means port. Vandre in Marathi and Bandar in Hindi both mean port and come from the same Sanskrit root word. It is referred to as "Bandora" in the writings of Mount Stuart Elphinstone of the English East India Company which describes the acquirement of the island of Salsette. Bandra remained a sylvan village dotted with thatched cottages. Known as the Queen of the suburbs, Bandra has much to offer in terms of sightseeing, shopping and gourmet dining.

KHAR ROAD. The area is often called Khar-Danda - khar in Marathi means salt, danda is a thick, short stick while dandi is a strip of land running out to sea.

It is derived from the Latin word Santa Cruz meaning Holy Cross. It was formerly called by local villagers as Khulbawdi - wherein khul implies a mortar and also a yard, and bawdi or bowri meaning a well. Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) was so named by its large population of Salsette East Indian Christians after a crude wooden cross that they erected on a hilltop. One fine day, the wooden stump of this cross is believed to have begun sprouting leaves miraculously enough.

The name 'Vile Parle' is derived from the names of small villages that included Idlai - Padlai.
The original name of the village was Veleh Padle, possibly originating from a combination of the Portuguese word, velha and the Marathi word pada, a cluster of villages.
Several trains begin and end at this station (left), whose strange name means vertigo or dark in Marathi. Andheri is one of the fastest growing suburbs in the north-west.

The name is derived from the Jogeshwari caves that are located in the eastern part of this suburb. They are some of the earliest Hindu caves in the region and are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. There is an old belief that the temple of Jogeshwari was named after the donor of the temple, Jog.

While few believe that this station and suburb is named after the politically active Gore (spelled Go-ray) family, who lived on the Western side of the suburb, others are of the opinion that the area got its name from gore-gaon - the white village since it was a large milk-producing centre since earlier times. Going by the former belief, the name literally means "Gore's village" in Marathi. What is now known as Goregaon Suburb is a conglomeration of Four Villages Pahadi, Goregaon, Aarey and Eksar. Goregaon got the Railway Station as early as 1862. The suburb was one of the Four Railway Stations between Borivali and Grant Road. However, it was known as Pahadi.

The origin of this name appears to be untraceable. In Marathi mala can imply either a garland or row, or a whitish, unctuous earth. In the 1920s and 1930s, several public and private buildings in the city were constructed with facings of the attractive beige Malad stone from the quarries located in the area.

The Kandivali or Khandolee station as it was once called was opened in 1907. The name is possibly derived from 'Khand', a sharp projection of rock, perhaps part of the stone quarries situated here.

The original name of Vasai was Vesalé in Sanskrit. Under the Muslim sovereigns it was renamed to Baxay; the Portuguese christened it Bancaim, and the Marathas called it Bajipura. Later on under the British rule, it was named Bassein. Finally, after Indian independence it was renamed 'Vasai'. The origin of Vasai is traced to the Sanskrit word vas, which means to dwell, or residence.

It is the site of the ancient port of Shurparaka or Sopara, now silted up. Sopara is one of the oldest port towns in India dating back to more than 1000 years. It is believed to be Solomon's Ophir by some scholars, and also said to be Shurparaka, the place where the Pandavas
rested during their exile mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.

An outpost of Mumbai, Virar was named after Indian philosopher Jeevan Virar and was connected with the mainland with electric train way back in 1925.
"What's in a name?" asked Shakespeare. But having read all the above information, it is certain that there indeed is a great deal behind every name!

courtesy :- Sachin Mendes for his email


Anonymous said...

Extremely interesting.I've always been curious about these names..Just wondering where u found so much info..:)

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