Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Indira Gandhi too passed through its tiny portals on their first visit to God’s own country

Abandoned Kochi railway station fades into oblivion with government apathyPhotos : Rajesh Kumar
news History Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 13:10

For native old-timers, the old Kochi railway station in Ernakulam is in itself a historical landmark in the city’s fast-changing landscape. Yet it’s slowly slipping into oblivion due to the state government dragging its feet in restoration works.

Located near the High Court Junction in Ernakulam, there were plans afloat in June last year to develop it into a hub for suburban trains with Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) trains to make use of it as a transit stop.

DEMU was expected to be launched by the first week of June 2016, but nothing seems to have materialized till date. Revenue officials did begin preliminary procedures to clear illegal encroachments off the station premises in April this year, but the area still remains as wooded as ever. There were even talks to make it into a museum, but the idea still remains on paper.

The first train to Kochi had chugged into this railway station on 16 July 1902. When the British government refused to build a railway line from Shornur to Kochi, the then King of Kochi -Rama Varma- sold all his gold and part of his landed property to get it built.

Many national leaders first set foot in Kerala after taking a train down South and alighting here like Mahatma Gandhi did in order to take part in the Vaikom Satyagraha. Rabindranath Tagore and Indira Gandhi too passed through its tiny portals on their first visit to God’s own country.

It was in 1920 that the renowned engineer Robert Bristo who went on to change the face of Kochi through various pioneering developmental projects landed in Kerala for the first time at the old Kochi railway station.

The edifice of the station was once considered attractive with its red stones and old Petromax lamps, with even a rest-room available for the royal family. But now the weeds and creepers hold sway and one can hardly recognize the existence of a railway station here once upon a time.

The station was abandoned in 1929 when the Ernakulam South railway station was commissioned. Though a few passenger-trains did halt at the old station till the 1960s, the route was abandoned with the passage of time.