City Landmark - Sahibabad RRTS Station, Ghaziabad

City Landmark – Sahibabad RRTS Station, Ghaziabad

Learning to see a new landmark.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It looks like an ocean liner stranded in plain land, far from the sea it belongs to. This is a fairly new landmark in zila Ghaziabad, that enriches the unusually rich architecture of Delhi’s neighbouring district. Opened late last year, the gigantic Sahibabad station is part of the under-construction Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System, which for the time connects Sahibabad to Modinagar North, ultimately to be stretched out all the way to distant Meerut.

Visible from far, the RRTS station stands above the highway running through a Ghaziabad suburb. As recently as at the turn of the century, this area was semi-wild, but now it is a thicket of apartment complexes, restaurants, gyms, beauty parlours, car repair workshops, flower nurseries, schools, parks… and it even boasts of localised traffic jam. While islands of emptiness continue to exist, every other week one more plot of open land gets besieged by blue metal barricades, the customary symbol of construction sites.

A young resident, living in a nearby multi-storey, sometimes looks at the station from her sixth floor’s window. “It resembles a space station from the movies, or maybe an international airport.” On the morning after the station’s inauguration, a group of eight residents of this same multi-storey treated themselves to a “joy ride” along the route, boarding the train at Sahibabad and disembarking two stations later at Duhai, where they made a pilgrimage to Shree Manan Dham.

Whatever your verdict on the station’s aesthetics, it is a truth universally unacknowledged that Ghaziabad’s infrastructural utilities are some of the most beautiful in the Delhi region. A few minutes’ drive away from the station is the colonial-era red brick railway bridge on Hindon, a Yamuna tributary. Patterned after a Roman aqueduct, it is composed of a series of six wide arches that throw perfectly symmetrical reflections onto the river water. The rail tracks go towards the Ghaziabad Junction, the most beautiful of all railway stations in the Delhi region. Opened in 1883, only slightly younger than Old Delhi station (1864), it has a platform sequenced with red-bordered arches.

This night, the aforementioned sixth floor resident sits by her window, gazing at the Sahibabad RRTS station. The train is shooting out in brief intervals, like bolts of lightning. So surreal, she says, posing for a photo.