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CST building: Attraction for tourists, challenge for security guards

Excited to be photographed near the heritage site, now lit up in various colours every evening, passersby often trespass, making life difficult for its guards.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai |
December 14, 2016 2:52:54 am
CST, CST railways, mumbai railways, CST tourist attraction, CST heritage site, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus security, mumbai local, mumbai local train, mumbai news, indian express news Though the lights have been an almost daily feature for a year now, the excitement among commuters or tourists to get themselves photographed near the UNESCO world heritage site has not waned.

EACH EVENING, the guards posted in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) building have a tough time asking visitors to maintain a distance from the gate. In the excitement to get themselves photographed with the beautifully lit up structure in the background, passers-by often tend to trespass, or assemble in large number near the gate.

Though the lights have been an almost daily feature for a year now, the excitement among commuters or tourists to get themselves photographed near the UNESCO world heritage site has not waned. What rekindles their joy, they claim, is the way the building gets enlivened through the use of different colours that represent different occasions.

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“I make sure that upon each visit to CST, I click a picture near the building to save the memory. It looks just as beautiful each time I see it,” said Geeta Bare, a regular commuter.

In 2014, the Ministry of Tourism with the Maharashtra Tourism and Development Corporation (MTDC) decided to redefine the colouring pattern of the CST building, giving it different lights on different days, rather tha the facade lighting done earlier. With a software-based technology called LED Red-Blue-Green (RBG) mechanism, they display different lights on the structure by changing the intensity.

“In Mumbai, we are the only heritage structure to use this mechanism to light a building. Its impact helps the building look more lively and interactive for the commuters. By sticking to themes or colouring it according to a situation or a festive occasion, the Central Railway participates in the cause of the festival,” said Narendra Patil, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway.

Though the building has been lit up in the evening hours since the 1980s with a golden metallic light, the various shades of colour were introduced only two years ago, to be displayed for three-and-a-half hours between 6.30 pm and 10 pm. With a total of 1,080 lights, each having its own code, various combinations are programmed by the software to make default themes, an official said.

“In the weekdays between Monday and Thursday, we keep a routine golden light for the purpose of illumination. For the weekends between Fridays and Sundays, four different default themes of lights are changed every hour. This is particularly done to attract the weekend crowd of tourists who come to South Mumbai,” an official said.

With minimal manual supervision of a single supervisor for the evening hours of lighting, there has never been a miss to this routine. There are at least 20 different light themes saved in the system catering to various religious festive occasions or events, officials claimed
“Right from the Tricolour to festive occasions, including Diwali or New Year’s eve, we have a default light theme saved for each. We also customise them for important days like the World Environment Day and others, and also keep a specific colour if requested by any social body. It is only on the World Earth Day on April 22 that we keep it dark,” the official added.

In order to make sure power failures don’t affect the lighting, five power systems have been involved. Last year, there was a faux pas when the building was lit up in Dutch colours instead of the colours of the French flag, which was to be done to show solidarity with the victims of Paris terror attacks.

“Immense promotion of the lighting on social media has added to its popularity. The lighting has added a new facet to the building, by highlighting the structure and making it more attractive for tourists,” Patil added.

What now remains a concern, said CR officials, is to get back almost Rs 70 lakh from MTDC authorities, for making all arrangements to change the lighting facilities of the building.

“It was such a huge task that it took us almost one year to get due permissions and bring the software to light up the building each evening to complete use. However, we are yet to receive the funding as promised by the MTDC authorities for the same,” the official claimed.

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