Wednesday, December 2, 2009


( Photo Avtar Mota )

Started in 1958 to mark Rabindra Nath Tagore ( 1861-1941 ) Centenary Celebrations , TAGORE HALL SRINAGAR was inaugurated by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed In 1961 .  Shri Morarji Desai was the chief guest at the time of inauguration. It  remains the main centre of Cultural activities in Kashmir even though bigger events are held now in SKICC on Dal Banks . 
I have witnessed Many plays , Musical programmes , Theatre Festivals , Mushairaas and Public functions in this Hall. Prior to Turmoil , this hall has been a breeding ground for almost all the actors and theatre Personalities of Kashmir . This Hall has a seating capacity of 675 persons .

Remembering Tagore Hall,   Artist Bansi Raina adds ,

“Tagore hall taught us ,how plays can be presented with the help of sets...lights..cyclorama .Tagore hall taught us how an artist should react in a house full or  huge gatherings. Prior to Tagore hall ...we had facilities as Shivala, Women”s College , Teachers Training college...but without basics. it had magic.The credit for revival of theatre in kashmir valley goes to Tagore Hall.Tagore Hall was our Mandir.My association with it stated in sixties with a play by ISJohar named Budh Kaam Shudh under the banner of a theatre "Kalasangam situated at Wazir Bagh.Latter Bansi Parimu dragged me from coffee house to help in arrangements for Ali Mohd Lone’s   play  TAQDEERSAZ   presented by Rangmanch  Theatre. It was annual Drama festival.The play was a great success and remained a topic for discussion in coffee House for weeks. Thereafter ,as a member of Rangmanch theatre, my association continued with Tagore Hall till eighties with occasional absence because of PAPI PEIT. The Incharge officer  of Tagore Hall was Padam Shri Moti Lal Kemmu and his deputy my friend Hasrat Gadda.Yadoon ki Baraat.”

Many fond memories are linked with this Hall. Memories of Assa singh Mastana and Surrinder kaur memories of Runa Laila singing Damaa Dum Mast qalandhar , Memories of Begum Akhtar , memories of some Mushiaras wherein poets like Firaq Gorakhpuri , Arsh Malsiani and Bashir Badr participated . Mohd Rafi and Talat Mehmood performed in this hall . Pandit Birju Maharaj danced over here. 

Dina Nath Naadim’s  celebrated opera  Vitasta was also performed at Tagore Hall with Mirza Afzal Beg as chief guest. He came to Dais after the show was over to hug Makhan Lal Saraf and shower bouquets of praise for Naadim  ,G R Santosh ,Pran kishore and the Artists.  Makhan lal Saraf  played the role of Neel Naag or father of bride Vitasta at that point of time.

Adds Bashir Ahmed Siraj,

“This building was in its prime during the early sixties. The stage was fully equipped with modern light and acoustic systems, curtain operation and various other stage props commonly used in performances. I was involved with production of a few performances of a play by Akhtar Mohidin, and a play by Krishen Chander named Kitab Ka Kaffan. I also produced a magic show in this hall, through a magician friend from Bombay. Makhan Lal Saraf, Omkar Aima, Hirday Nath Gurtoo are some of the names that come to mind who acted in the play by Akhtar. “

And this Tagore Hall is currently closed .The Renovation of Tagore Hall was started in 2008 but I found it incomplete when I visited the site in 2014. I do not know what further damage the floods of sep 2014 did to this structure . We are now led to believe that the Hall shall be ready by October 2015 .

And Similar lies the fate of Abhinav Theatre ( Inaugurated in 1978 seating capacity 805 persons ) Jammu that is closed for some repairs / renovation since long.

( Avtar Mota )


--This post was updated on 19.05.2015 .
--Inside Jammu University’s New Complex across Tawi Bridge , Prof Amitabh Mattoo the then VC built a sprawling Modern Auditorium ( Zorawar Singh Auditorium ) , many times bigger than Tagore Hall , in less than three years .

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