7 Interesting Facts About Gaiety Theater in Shimla

Gaiety Theater is a famous landmark of Shimla. Nestled between The Mall road and Ridge, this building has been a major cultural center of Shimla since the 19th century.

Today, it continues to hold plays, exhibitions and other events with the purpose of encouraging art and culture in Himachal Pradesh. Although Gaiety Theater still remains a point of attraction for both tourists and locals, an increase in footfall will only help in supporting this building and its purpose of promoting the arts.

Here are 7 interesting facts about Gaiety Theater.

1. Designed by Henry Irwin in Gothic Style of Architecture

Named after the famous Gaiety Theater of London, this building was originally designed as the Town Hall.

Old Gaiety Theater in Shimla - British Era
Old Gaiety Theater in Shimla – British Era

It was built in 1887, designed by Henry Irwin. The architectural style was neo-gothic and part of a revival of gothic architecture that was occurring in Europe and other parts of the British Empire.

This is the guy:

henry irwin

And this is London Gaiety Theater

Gaiety Theater London (Gathety Theater Shimla Was Named After It)
Gaiety Theater London (Gaiety Theater Shimla Was Named After It) | Image:

2. The Same Guy Designed the Viceregal Lodge too.

Yes, Henry Irwin also designed the Viceregal Lodge that hosts the IIAS today. Hell of an architect, he was famous as Architect of Palaces.

the Viceregal Lodge of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies - Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
The Viceregal Lodge | Indian Institute of Advanced Studies – Shimla, Himachal Pradesh | Image: IIAS.org

3. Originally Built as a 5 Story Town Hall

The building was designed as the Town Hall and was the tallest structure in the little colonial town of Shimla.

Once a 5 Story Town Hall
Once a 5 Story Town Hall

It contained a theater, a library, a ball room, a police station, a Masonic hall, a hall for public meetings, two reading rooms, two retiring rooms, a drawing room, a bar and a card room.

4. It Was Britishers’ Favorite Hang-out in Shimla

It was the place to be in Shimla and all young officers and their wives made their way to this place to get a European entertainment experience right here in Shimla.


5. The Planned Demolition

This magnificent building was found to be structurally unsafe because the stone used for construction wasn’t of good enough quality. In 1912 it was declared unsafe and a complete demolition was planned. But eventually only the upper floors needed to be demolished and the lower floors survived.

With recent renovations the building stands as strong as ever today and is ready for another century of art and culture.

Gaiety Theater At Present
Gaiety Theater At Present

6. The Amateur Dramatics Club

You can see the coat of arms of the Amateur Dramatics Club hanging on the door to the upper level of Gaiety Theater on the Ridge. The ADC is one of the oldest clubs of its type in the world and continues to operate to this day.

Many renowned personalities have been a part of the ADC and it has an unbreakable link to the history of Gaiety Theater itself.

7. The Mecca of Theater

Gaiety Theater has turned into a sort of Mecca for theater artists over its long history. Many great men such as Rudyard Kipling, Baten Powel, K.L. Sehgal, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, the Kendall’s, Balraj Sahni, Pran, Manohar Singh, Shashi Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher have performed on the stage of this theater. All theater artists are aware of the consecrated past of the Gaiety Theater.


  1. urmimala

    Thank you! a crisp read

  2. D.C.Brannen

    Most interesting – I used to drive there, over a hair-raising road, with Major General Jagjit Singh from Chharabra – a lifetime ago. Amateur Dramatics Society was excellent then. Forgive me, but being pedantic and in my 80’s, I must point out that theatre is the British way of spelling – and I think you perhaps meant Baden-P0well?

    1. Thank you for your comment sir. I wrote this article a while back and I must have forgotten to change the language on my word processor from US English to UK English. I apologize, for at least the London’s Gaiety Theatre should have had the right spelling. Also, I’m sure it’s supposed to be Baden Powell. Being a careless writer, back then (not now hopefully), I copied this information from some other source without researching who each man was. If I had, I would have seen that Google immediately corrects the spelling to Baden Powell. I would have also found some interesting information about him and made this article much better than it is.
      The Shimla of your time must have been very different from what it is right now. Although I might be a victim of the Golden Age Mentality, perpetually wishing to be in another era. Would like to hear some of your stories, if there’s anyway that that could be possible.

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