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The Gaiety-Historical Facts

Gothic architecture evolved in the middle ages in Europe though the term Gothic was used only later, during the Rennaissance, as a less than complimentary word to describe this style. With its origins in France, this form of building was characterized by high pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses.

A revival of the style in mid-eighteenth century England also spread gradually to its colonies. Designed by Henry Irwin, who had been appointed Superintendent of Works, Imperial Circle, in 1881, the old town hall of Shimla, of which the Gaiety Theatre is a part, exhibited the major characteristics of this building vocabulary.

When sections of this five-storey building were demolished in the early twentieth century, after being found structurally unsafe, the flying buttresses were among the first things to go. The arches and vaults, however, may still be seen in the present Gothic-revival reconstruction, protection and restoration. Across Europe, many of the great cathedrals, churches and universities were built with variations of the Gothic theme.

In Shimla, apart from the old Town Hall, Gothic terms also found expression in Christ Church, in St. Michael's Cathedral and in the Secretariats of the Imperial Government of India at Gorton Castle (now, the Accountant General's office) and of the Punjab Government (now, the Secretariat of the Himachal Government at Ellerslie). Despite the changes in Shimla, its heart still holds numerous examples of other major architectural styles. These include neo-Tudor (Barnes Court and the Library on the Ridge), a combination of Elizabethan Renaissance and Scottish Baronial (the former Viceregal Lodge), Alpine (The Chalet, Cedar Lodge and Bantony), Norman-Baronial (the District Courts) while common lath and plaster may be seen in several old cottages and bungalows. Shimla still remains one of the few places in the world where so many different architectural styles may be found in a relatively compact geographic area.

Gaiety Theatre was an important part of the Town Hall. It was a marvel of architecture with perfect acoustics and theatre facilities. A hub of the performing arts, Gaiety Theatre saw legendary artists like Rudyard Kipling, Baten Powel, K.L. Sehgal, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, the Kendall's, Balraj Sahani, Pran, Manohar Singh, Shashi Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher perform on this historical stage over a century and a half inspite of the condition of the building.





© 2009 The GaietyCultural Complex is a division of the Himachal Pradesh Department of Art & Culture. 
Mailing Address:mail@gaiety.in Department of Art & Culture, Kusumpti Shimla-171009