“In The Past People Were Born Royal, Nowadays Royalty Comes From What You Do.” Gianni Versace
This ride is quite distinguished, and of high repute to a royal and splendid structure on a small, humble and ordinary bicycle that has less significance to few, or rather to many in this fast paced passionate city of cars.
The idea of pedaling to a historic site might not be so versatile, but it’s certainly a worthwhile attempt to break the monopoly of customary mindsets, perhaps introduce a new trend, or simply a gentle nudge of influence conveying that ‘You need not be conventional always’.
The Royal Opera House is located near Girgaon Chowpatty, South of Mumbai. Built during the British Era, it is the only surviving opera house in India. Until now, I was ignorant of it and remained disengaged with this symbolic structure of art, culture and entertainment.
The Heritage Site:
Admired and praised as the ‘Cultural Crown Jewel’ of the city, this marvelous building carries a rich legacy of survival and restoration as it goes onto maintain its relevance today.
The building was inaugurated by King George V in 1911. It was fully completed in 1916 and went on to host many arts, music and cultural performances. It was acquired by ideal pictures in 1935, converted into a cinema hall and sold again in 1952 to the Maharaj of Gondal, Shri Vikram Sinhji. By 1980, video films culture changed the dynamics of watching cinema leading to the closure of many theatres in the nineties.
The son of Maharaja, Shri Jyotendra Sinhji, commissioned its restoration in 2010. The opera house was reopened and reinstated to its original glory for the audience in 2016 – after a gap of twenty-three years.
The restored facilities features state of the art furniture and technology upgrades, with 575 seats spread over three level auditoriums – Royal Stall, Dress Circle and Grand Balcony.
Being a premier heritage landmark, The Royal Opera House stands as a key performance and creative hub in the city’s cultural landscape.
I was here to attend a musical – dance performance ‘Antardrishti – Inner Vision’. Produced by a London based organisation Baluji Music Foundation, in collaboration with the British Council of India and Avid learning.
Preceding to the show, the evening featured a pop-up exhibition of Braille tactile artworks created by the visually impaired.
The performance was done by the ‘Inner Vision Orchestra’ which is UK’s only blind Orchestra, along with Classical Indian dancers and digital artists ‘Addictive TV’.
The act opened with Sanskrit Sloks (verses) seamlessly blending with the tune of contemporary and classical melody, and well complimented by the dancers. The instruments included a keyboard, tabla, sitar, mridangam, flutes and vocals.
It was amazing to see how ‘differently abled’ musicians established a perfect harmony with the dancers and delivered a soulful act.
Each of the artist was introduced by Baluji, a senior sitar player; and they went onto give short solo performances one after the other towards the penultimate moments of the show.
I got immersed in the sounds resonating through plucking of sitar strings, the magic of flutes, and beats created through percussion of tabla and mridangam.
The Inner Vision:
“We value light, because it brings clarity to us. If there is no light you cannot see clearly. Where there is light you can see clearly. So what you actually value is not light, it is the clarity that it brings” – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.
In our life’s, we are driven by our perceptions. Perception is the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through our senses. It’s the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted. When we are able to see what other people can’t see, it makes us different or can I would say ‘differently abled’ person.
They were blind people performing at the opera, but they had clarity in their minds. A clear vision reflected well in their actions resulting into a successful performance. Playing in such a large social gathering and in presence of notable gentry is not easy. It was possible because the performers stayed focused, and had a clear direction. Many a times, we falter in our jobs, business, exams, decision making or even following a simple recipe. This happens as our minds get entangled in a series of thoughts blurring our endeavors.
I extend my gratitude to the inspiring performers for invigorating strong feelings within me, and enabling my inner vision so that I can see with clarity.
It is my first experience of visiting any Opera House till date. The inspiration of covering such an elite creation came from my American Born, German Friend ‘Don Porche’.
Don conducts opera appreciation workshops, is a seasoned writer, and has wrote about as many as sixty-three opera houses out of the total of eighty-eight situated in Germany.
A successful teacher and an avid traveler, Don has made profound contributions for the tourists through his reviews, photographs, tips and travelogues.
He fell in love with the opera’s at a tender age of fifty-one. He cycles very often, to commute and to reach destinations in different parts of the city.
If you have the urge to know more about the opera’s with a good appetite for reading, visit
Few more pictures taken during my visit.
Google Map Location: Royal Opera House, Mumbai
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai