Tourists, step into history at Shimla’s Gaiety Theatre (With Image)April 19th, 2010 - 10:51 am ICT by IANS
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, April 19 (IANS) The next time you go to Shimla, don’t miss this 123-year-old landmark. Gaiety Theatre, which could earlier be visited only to watch plays, has been thrown open to tourists who can admire its Gothic architecture and get a feel of the time when British colonial rulers would descend for an evening of entertainment.
“To showcase the rich heritage of Gaiety Theatre, we decided to open it for tourists. It will remain open throughout the week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Mondays,” state language and culture department director Prem Sharma told IANS.
“Our aim is to popularise its monumental importance as well as to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of our cultural heritage. Let people come and admire its beauty,” he said.
Gaiety Theatre has been the centre of cultural activities in Shimla right from the day it opened in 1887. “Time Will Tell” was the first play staged there. Since then the popularity of English plays in the theatre earned Shimla the nickname, Mecca of Theatre.
Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, actors Prithviraj Kapoor, K.L. Sehgal, Balraj Sahni, Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendall, Raj Babbar and Naseeruddin Shah also performed there.
The theatre was opened to the public Friday and the response has been “good” since then.
After five years of renovation, Gaiety Theatre was reopened in June last year. A sum of Rs.120 million was spent to restore its original Gothic style of architecture.
Mumbai-based architect Ved Segan has played an important role in its restoration. The use of slate for roofing, glazing work inside the complex and ornamental stonework on the outer walls has been done on the old pattern.
While the top floor has a big auditorium with a seating capacity of 500 people, the first floor has a greenroom and a hall with 200 seats. The ground floor has a museum, gallery and library.
To educate tourists about its historical importance, guides have been engaged.
“We have hired guides to highlight its historical aspects. A visual of the theatre’s restoration work and techniques used in re-building it will also be shown,” Sharma said.
Nominal fees would be charged from tourists.
Indian tourists will have to pay Rs.10 per person without camera and Rs.25 with camera. For foreigners, the charges per person are Rs.25 without camera and Rs.50 with camera.
Principal Secretary (Tourism) Manisha Nanda said: “Earlier, the theatre was open to the public only when plays were showcased. We were getting requests from tourists that it should be opened on other days too.”
Shimla, the former summer capital of the British, is known for producing artists like Anupam Kher and Vijay Kashyap. Even the song “Main nikla gaddi le ke” in Anil Sharma’s hit Bollywood film “Gadar”, starring Sunny Deol, was shot at Gaiety Theatre.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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Tags: balraj sahni, colonial rulers, cultural heritage, culture department, gaiety theatre, gothic architecture, greenroom, jennifer kendall, monumental importance, naseeruddin shah, nobel laureate, old landmark, prithviraj kapoor, raj babbar, rich heritage, rs 120, rudyard kipling, shashi kapoor, state language, style of architecture