Marvel at the fading baroque grandeur of this former opera house and then visit one of Mumbai’s most popular beaches.
Mumbai’s Royal Opera House is a fine example of baroque architecture and one of the last surviving opera houses in India. It dates back to the early 1900s and was inaugurated by King George V. The Royal Opera House hosted live performances until 1935, after which it became a theater and cinema until it closed in the early 1990s. It provided the springboard for the famed theater actor Prithviraj Kapoor and the singer Lata Mangeshkar. Walk past the dramatic exterior to appreciate its faded grandeur.
Stand at the building’s entrance and gaze up at the ornate façade. Check out the elegant balconies, elongated columns, Italianate balustrades and shuttered windows. Look up at the intricately carved sculptures adorning the pediment. They portray musicians and cherubs playing instruments such as the cello, harp, flute and violin. Crowning the pediment are waving figures, cherubs and a coat of arms.
Located in the Girgaon district, the Royal Opera House is about a 15-minute drive from Colaba and Kala Ghoda, two popular tourist areas of Mumbai. The closest train station is Charni Road Railway Station and public buses also stop nearby. Alternatively, get here by taking one of Mumbai’s many tuk-tuks and taxis. Walk here via the picturesque Marine Drive Jogging Track, a coastal boulevard that stretches between Nariman Point and Malabar Hill.
Combine your trip to the opera house with visits to nearby attractions. Sit on the golden sand of Chowpatty Beach, where families enjoy picnics, children play on fairground rides and snake charmers entertain passersby. Be sure to try traditional Indian street food such as bhel puri, which is a snack of puffed rice, vegetables and a spicy tamarind sauce.
About a 20-minute walk from the beach is the Hanging Gardens, a scenic hilltop park decorated with sculpted hedges and topiary. For more sightseeing, wander through the streets of the Malabar Hill district to Banganga Tank. This ancient sacred pool is part of the 12th-century Walkeshwar Temple complex.