News Source : NDTV
The Khar station on Mumbai’s suburban rail network, which became operational on July 1, 1924, as part of Western Railway’s plan to decongest and serve as an extension of the bandra suburb, turned 90 on Tuesday.
Thanks to the growing urbanisation and the pressures of a burgeoning population, Khar has today developed an identity of its own.
The name “Khar” took birth from the Marathi word ‘khara’, meaning salty, as most of the nearby area was a marshy land fed by the waters of the Arabian Sea.
Khar-Danda on the western part of Khar is still inhabited by Koli fisherfolk, acknowledged as Mumbai’s original residents.
“Khar was planned to meet the needs of the growing suburban population north of bandra where the Bombay development departments were carrying out many developmental schemes,” a Western Railway official said.
Large tracts of wasteland on the western side were reclaimed and converted into residential sites with 842 building plots aimed at a population of around 10,000.
“The main hitch was that a new housing scheme was largely dependent on its success for the provision of a convenient railway station. Khar would thus facilitate not just newcomers planning to shift there but also existing residents of the famous Pali Hill and its extensions to get a convenient neighbourhood station,” the official said.
The Western Railway had estimated that around 1,700 people would use the Khar station in the then foreseeable future.
Over the years, all calculations went awry, and today Khar is like one of the other bustling mid-junction stations with around 85,000 commuters using the Western Railway suburban network daily.
Though falling in a shadow zone – as suburban fast trains do not halt here – Khar retains its importance with as many as 648 Western Railway trains and 108 Harbour Line trains daily.
Its neighbours are bandra to the south and Santa Cruz to the north.
By the 1960s, Khar developed into a swanky, posh suburb with many private bungalows, fashionable hotels, restaurants, and later skyscrapers and mega housing complexes, with scores of important schools and colleges coming up in its vicinity.
Today, Khar is home to many Bollywood personalities, industrialists and other celebrities.
Many parts continue to retain their old world charm of a handful of bungalows still visible through shady tree-lined avenues and quiet bylanes.
As far as commuters and long-distance passengers are concerned, Khar is now an important quick access to the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, which was conceived a few years ago to decongest the Mumbai Central Terminus.