In Transit

In an ostentatious bustling city like Mumbai where people always seem to be on the move, places of transit shape the city experience to a large extent. And when it comes to Bandra Station, it’s not just any station, but a junction from the suburbs to other parts of Mumbai.

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Bandra Station ©AsmitaGanar

The thing about junctions is that they’re so much more than a go-between. They have to give you a sense of arrival. And Bandra Station has just that. It has an entry experience of its own. It may be the route to a journey, but as you enter, it does feel like a destination.

Bandra Station: A Nexus of Movement and Evolution

Though the architecture and character of the station feel intimate and picturesque, the story of how it came to be is far from what it seems. Bandra Station was initially constructed as a cargo halt to haul products from the slaughterhouses nearby. Later, as the sleepy suburb of Bandra grew, two platforms were added, and the station was named Bandora, local speak for the Persian word bandar & bay/harbour (Jain, 2023)

The station didn’t just act as a place of transit for the meat cargo but housed slaughterhouses on its premises. There were three buildings for the storage of mutton and beef located just 100 yards from the main station. 

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Bandra Station 1900’s ©WesternRailways

In 1879 the meat train was discontinued in favour of bullock carts. The station continued to thrive as a place of transit though, with two more platforms added in 1888 to accommodate the number of trains needed. It formally opened only then. 

Witnessing Time’s Passage: Bandra Station’s Century of Evolution

1888 – That’s more than a century of change that this structure has stood through. And as with most heritage structures – with time, it has evolved along with the society around it. And these changes tell us a lot about what we give importance to in places of transit over time.

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Bandra Station – 1900’s  ©PrashanthMenon
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Bandra Station 2023 ©DeepaKrishnan

I think it’s quite interesting how the central clock tower has been there since the beginning. Time has always been such an essential commodity, especially in places of transit. After all, we measure the efficiency of a mode of travel by how much time it takes when used. 

The baroque cast iron pillars at the platforms, some old and rusted, while some freshly painted, are a perfect symbol for old and new. The fact that the architecture is a mix of both Victorian and Gothic architecture with a hint of vernacular styles makes the station perfect for the princess of the suburbs – Bandra.        

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Bandra Station Clocktower ©YashviShah
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Iron cast Pillar ©YashviShah


While Victorian architecture is always known for its intricacy and ornate Western styles, when mixed with a hint of Gothic elements such as its pointed arches and iron finial protruding towards the sky in the clock tower are testament to its history. The use of iron is evident in its parallel with the Industrial Revolution during the 1800’s. 

But combining those iron pillars with wooden rafters and dormer windows makes the structure more charming and not formidable.

Navigating Preservation

Being a Grade I heritage building, it has undergone restoration several times. More recently, it was done in 2008 and then again in January 2023 by Abha Narain Lambah Associates. The restoration has addressed a lot of the issues for mobility inside the station and a plaza space outside. Though well planned in terms of material restoration and drop-offs some major factors have been ignored, focussing more on the beautification. 

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During Restoration ©NimeshDave


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Post- Restoration ©TejashreeKarande

The men’s and women’s toilet in Platform 1 was demolished in 2020, leaving a single washroom for all passengers to use. Similarly, the ticket counter building was taken down leaving passengers to stand in long queues in the hot sun. Even the space provided for ticket machines is not thought out, with it facing the western sun making it almost useless during the days as the glare of the sun makes it impossible to scan and buy tickets.

When it comes to heritage structures optics somehow hold all of the focus, leaving victims of the users of the space itself.

Bandra Station: Gateway to Mumbai’s Heritage and Transit

Due to the station’s proximity to Sunni Jamma Masjid, the station has a front-row seat to Eid and Bakrid festivities. During Ramazan, you’ll find many street vendors selling iftar food at the doorstep of the station. And during Eid and Bakrid mornings, the plaza outside is a sight to see. Hundreds of devotees gather for the festival’s namaz and rise and bow together. The sheer density of people is made possible only due to the spill-out space outside Bandra Station.

The instances where the context allows and accommodates cultural activities is when we truly understand good architecture.

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Bandra Station during Eid namaz ©AakashVishwakarma

The Impact of Thoughtful Lighting Design

Post-restoration in 2023, there were pictures of Bandra Station all over social media. Suddenly every other person was talking about restoration architecture and how impactful it is. This was largely because of the visual change. Not just the detailing and plaza design – but the lighting design. More than 60% of images online were pictures of the Station during the night.

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Bandra Station Entry at Night ©RishavKumar
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Highlight Lighting ©TejashreeKarande

The lights placed strategically result in showcasing just the right elements while not being too jarring. These subtle cove lights make the station a picturesque architectural marvel.

An Ode to Familiarity

There’s a charm in using heritage buildings, not just witnessing and observing as a tourist or bystander but using the space in our day-to-day lives. Experiencing it not just as an ode to its history but as a sign of the present.

That’s one of the most charming things about Bombay maybe, you’ll find old Art Deco buildings being used as a Westside Store, quaint Portuguese-style houses are transformed into vibrant bars, pulsating with the city’s energy. And amidst this tapestry of repurposed structures lies Bandra Station, not merely a sight to behold but a bustling hub actively engaged by its inhabitants

That, I think, is the true charm of architecture. When we see a structure that stays through the testament of time and change, and see it change with us.


Jain, PJ, 2023, Restored Glory Mumbais British-era Bandra Railway Station Shines Anew, Outlook Traveller.


  • Western Railways
  • Outlook Traveller
  • Times of India
  • Financial Times
  • Anla Associates

Aiman Ansari is an architect currently working and residing in Bombay. She completed her B.Arch 2021 and has gone on to work on projects varying from low-cost housing, to educational institutes and in the hospitality industry. She’s fascinated by the power architecture has to not only tell a story but also create them. She draws inspiration from the idea that the spaces we occupy guide a large part of our individual stories Social responsibility plays a large part in her life. Aiman co-authored the publication ‘Rising Beyond the Ceiling – Karnataka’. A book that looks to break the stereotype of Indian Muslim Women.