Shimla: Stage is set for inauguration of Gaiety Theatre after completing its restoration work at a cost of Rs. 11.48 crore for about five years and nine months. Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister Himachal , will formally dedicate it to the people on 25 June, 2009.
Jagmohan the then Union Minister in the NDA Government visited Shimla in the year 2003 and has advised the State Government to send the proposal for the restoration of the Gaiety Theatre. The proposal was sent to the Central Government immediately. The initial estimate was Rs. 5.13 crore and with the passage of time and restoration work taken in hand the cost went up to Rs. 11.48 crore to give it the final shape. The peculiarity of the restoration work is that it has been done as per the traditional conservation norms along with the application of modern conservation method during restoration.
The restoration work has been done under the guidance of Mumbai based specialized architect Ved Segan in an original gothic style. Its structure has been raised without putting any extra load by ensuring adequate reinforcement for structural safety.
Besides, the old Theatre, the restored structure has a bigger multipurpose hall with sitting capacity of 400 in top floor. Besides it has an old theatre with setting capacity of 138 in ground floor and 180 in second floor. Art Gallery by Lalit Kala Academy has been set up in the second floor. It has also provision of Conference and Seminar Rooms. The provision for setting up City Museum has also been made in the ground floor.
The new facility added after the restoration is multi-purpose hall, Gallery, Conference Hall/ Seminar Hall, and Museum.
The Gaiety Theatre is located in the centre of the Mall. This heritage building is more than 120 years old. Situated in the North-West Himalayas, Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh now-a-days. It has also remained the Summer Capital of the British.
The architect Henary Irwin, who built the Viceregal Lodge where Indian Institute of Advanced Study is housed now, has designed the Gaiety Theater building. It was opened in 1887 but a formal inauguration of the Shimla ADC(Amateur Dramatic Club) took place in 1888. It remained the hub of cultural activities during the British Raj and also thereafter. Prominent theatre artists has given their performance in it. They include K.L. Saigal, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Madan Puri, Shashi Kapoor, Jenifer Kendall, Raj Babbar, Anupum Kher and Manohar Singh.
From the year 1986, the Gaiety Theatre is being managed by Department of Language, Art and Culture after taking over from Municipal Corporation, Shimla.
The Gaiety Theatre in new shape will go a long way in promotion of cultural activities besides an attraction for the tourists.