Rajendra B. Aklekars research-and his scholarship which enables him to interpret his findings-throws new light on the way railways were built. - Sir Mark Tully, author of Non - Stop India
Fascinating stuff. An enormous amount of really rigorous work. - Naresh Fernandes, author of City Adrift - A Short Biography of Bombay
Halt Station India chronicles the dramatic rise of Indias original rail network, the arrival of the first train and the subsequent emergence of a pioneering electric line-all in the port city of Bombay. Trains that once provoked awe and fear-they were viewed as fire chariots, smoke-spewing demons-have today become a nations lifeblood.
Taking a walk along Indias first rail lines, the author stumbles upon fragments of the past-a clock at Victoria Terminus that offers a rare view of a city, a cannon near Masjid Bunder Station that is worshipped as a god, a watchtower overlooking Sion Station, believed to have housed a witch. Each pit-stop comes with stories of desire and war, ambition and death-by Dockyard Road Station, for instance, author Laurence Sternes beloved, Eliza Draper, followed a sailor into the sea or close to Parel Station, the wife of Indias governor general, Lord Canning found a garden rich in tropical vegetation this, she replicated at Barrackpore.
Drawing from journals, biographies, newspapers and railway archives-and with nostalgic, first-time accounts of those who travelled by Indias earliest trains-the book captures the economic and social revolutions spurred by the countrys first train line. In this, Halt Station India is not just about the railways-it is the story of the growth of Indias business capital and a rare study of a nation.
About the Author
A journalist for the past twenty years, Rajendra B. Aklekar has two things on his mind-the railways and Bombay. He started his career with Rusi Karanjias firebrand The Daily, where he used to run a weekly column on the history of Bombays railway stations. Presently, Aklekar is associated with The Times Groups Mumbai Mirror. He has trained himself in museology to document Bombays vanishing relics, helped the railways set up heritage galleries and worked on several prestigious projects to conserve the citys ancient structures.