City Landmark – Railway Station, Gurgaon
A station, for memories.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Ting tong. Yatrigan kripya dhyan de. Passengers, may we have your attention please. Better later than never. That thing called change will soon be expressing into one of Delhi region’s most atmospheric rail stations. 200 crores have been allotted for its redevelopment.
Here’s putting on record the way Gurgaon railway station used to be all these recent years.
With only 3 platforms and about half a dozen porters, the station compensates for its littleness with its history. Its origins are traced to the Rajputana-Malwa metre-gauge line, laid in 1879. According to the ‘Gurgaon Gazetteer, 1883,’ the Rajputana-Malwa State Railway was India’s first railway following the metre-gauge standards, and the first railway to be built and operated under the government of British India.
Compared to the cosmopolitan city it serves, the railway station stays as sleepy as any non-junction rail stop you’ll see in Chandpur, or Kalpi, or in any other small town in India. Platform 1 had a bookstore, the only one in this part of the city stocked with novels. Sone years back it turned into a kiosk for biscuits, chips and namkeen.
Platform 2 is more interesting due to its many high-rises—the trees. A particularly luxuriant banyan is so huge that a dozen yatrigan would have to hold hands to make a whole circle around the trunk. The lower part of the tree is a colony of squirrels, so bold that these playful creatures go about their daily life within inches of us humans waiting for our mails and expresses. While the tree’s upper branches frequently swell with bird sounds.
One place in the station where time moves as slowly as a countryside passenger train is the waiting room on platform 1 (pictured). One afternoon, a man was reading a murder mystery (Katil ka Badla). A woman was sleeping with her head slumped on her knees..
The station’s most evocative portion has to be a wall in the ticket hall. It has two boards listing the place-names connected to Gurugram by trains, such as Sultanpur, Sikar, Ajmer, Bhuj, Farrukhnagar. The layout resembles the pages of the almost-extinct railway timetable books.
Just outside the station’s entrance stands a tree whose foliage is so luscious that it looks like a self-contained forest. May this tree survive the redevelopment. Along with the beautiful temple of Bhagwan Vishwakarma, tucked in a corner of the station’s backyard.
PS: The photo was taken a month before the first pandemic-related lockdown in 2020.