Who says only Lahore has great historical architecture? Sure, Punjab has ample Mughal monuments to look at. But Karachi too, has a rich history of its own with many buildings built during the colonisation period and in the early 80s.
Whether you are a foreigner, a local traveller, or a Karachiite, here are some places in the city that you must experience at least once
Mohatta Palace was built by Rattan Mohatta, a successful entrepreneur in 1927. By the time of the Partition in 1947, Mohatta Palace was acquired by the newly established Government of Pakistan to house its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the Foreign Office moved to Islamabad in 1964, the palace was given to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.
After her demise in 1964, her sister Shireen Jinnah lived there until her death in 1980. Today, the monument houses a museum and is a must visit historic site. The museum is also rumoured to be haunted and many guards have complained of having heard voices coming from inside in the late hours of night.
Quaid-e-Azam House Museum
The Quaid-e-Azam House, known as Flagstaff House, is the former abode of Jinnah who lived there from 1944 until his death in 1948. Later, Fatima Jinnah moved into the house and lived there until 1964.
What’s so special about this place? Each room is a memory of the father of the nation as it still contains the remnants and antiques from his lifetime. This is why the building was acquired in 1985 by the Pakistani government and conserved as a museum.
Karachi War Cemetery
The Karachi War Cemetery holds 642 graves from British cantonments scattered throughout Pakistan, as well as graves of soldiers from World War II, mostly from the United Kingdom. There are no names written on the memorials but a Roll of Honour at each site, record the names of those commemorated.
The Karachi War Cemetery also contains the memorial of the 568 men who served in garrisons and British India during the First World War.
Build in 1865 during the British era, Frere Hall was meant to serve as Karachi’s town hall and was named after Sir Bartley Frere, the Commissioner of Sindh during the colonial period.
After the British rule, Frere Hall was turned into a library which is currently known as Liaquat National Library. This library is believed to be the biggest in Karachi, containing 70 thousand books including rare hand written manuscripts.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is said to be the first church in Sindh and was built in 1845. Built in the Gothic Revival architecture style, the church is 52 metres by 22 metres and can accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at one time.
The design of the cathedral was conceived by the architect Father Karl Wagner, SJ and the construction was supervised by the lay Brothers George Kluver, SJ and Herman Lau, SJ. In 2003, the cathedral was declared as a protected monument because of its outstanding architectural beauty under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act.
Mazar-e-Quaid, also known as Jinnah Mausoleum, is the resting place of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The mausoleum also holds the tombs of his sister Fatima Jinnah, and Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first Prime Minister.
Completed in 1970, the mausoleum is now a popular tourist site where people from all over Pakistan come to pay respect to the father of the nation.
Constructed from Italian white marble, the tomb is a beautiful monument that stands as an example of the architectural masterpieces that the country was once capable of creating.
When a rebellion erupted in Karachi during the British Raj and the perpetrators were caught, the colonisers decided to make an example of their death.
The freedom fighters had their heads blown off by canon balls and their body parts were buried on a barren ground – the same ground that is now called Empress Market. When the citizens found out the dire punishment given to the rebels, they began to throw flowers at their burial site.
In order to stop this practice, The Empress Market was constructed between 1884 and 1889 and named after Queen Victoria, Empress of India. There were more than 200 shops situated within the Indo-Gothic style market place and it soon became a shopping hub.