Mumbai’s restored Royal Opera House bags UNESCO heritage award

Updated on Nov 03, 2017 05:13 PM IST

The restored Opera House on Charni Road, which reopened around a year ago, has modern acoustics, sound, lighting and AC.

The Royal Opera House reopened in 2016, after 23 years.(HT File)
The Royal Opera House reopened in 2016, after 23 years.(HT File)
Hindustan Times | ByYesha Kotak, Mumbai

Almost a year after it reopened, Charni Road’s Royal Opera House has been awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The building was closed to the public in 1993, and sat crumbling for years, before a restoration project was undertaken eight years ago to replicate the heritage structure. It was originally inaugurated by Britain’s King George V in 1911 and completed in 1916.

Honorary director of the heritage site, Ashish Doshi, said they had taken up a challenge when they decided to restore the place, but pictures taken by an Australian journalist in 1914 helped them replicate the structure in toto.

“The award will help us strengthen the vision we have for Mumbai and achieve our goals faster. We want to make the Royal Opera House the city’s cultural hub,” Doshi said.

While restoring the building, architect Abha Narain Lambah ensured that while history was being revived, she also had to provide facilities such as modern acoustics, sound, lighting and air conditioning to visitors.

Lambah said the award is a testament of the faith that the Maharaja of Gondal, who owns the building, had in the restoration process.

“In a city like Mumbai, there are many heritage sites, but not enough government funding to conserve them. The owners of this place didn’t want to compromise on quality and maintain the cultural heritage as well. The award is a validation of their faith,” Lambah said.

Maharani Kumud Kumari of Gondal thanked Lambah’s team and said it was their efforts that yielded results.

“The Royal Family of Gondal has always been a great patron of art, culture and education. We are extremely pleased with the outcome and are equally ecstatic that UNESCO has recognised the effort,” she said.

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