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Wazir Mansion: then and now

June 17, 2013

THIS is to attract the attention of readers towards an interesting fact about Wazir Mansion. Wazir Mansion is where the parents of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived at the time of his birth. The house where Mohammad Ali Jinnah spent 16 years of his childhood and youth is a precious national monument that provides inspiration to our nation.

The two-storey building belongs to the colonial period, standing solemnly on a street known as Chagla Street (now Barkati Street), Kharadar, Karachi.

It was built during 1860-1870 with stone masonry in lime and jute mortar to suit the volatile weather of Karachi.

The Quaid’s parents, Jinnah Bhai Ponja and Sakina Bano (Mithi Bai), moved to Karachi after 1874 from their ancestral village Paneli (now in Gujrat, India) to Karachi and acquired a two-room apartment in this building.

It was an auspicious day of December 25, 1876, when the founder of our homeland, i.e. Pakistan, was born.

When Mohammad Ali Jinnah left for London in 1892 for higher studies, his parents and siblings were still residing in the flat. However, after the birth of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah the house was sold to someone else by the owner, and the Quaid’s family shifted to another big rented house in Karachi.

Gowardhan Das was also among the owners of this building from whom Wazir Ali Ponawala (from whom the house had got its name ‘Wazir Mansion’) bought it at some point in 1904.

In 1953, the Government of Pakistan acquired this historic building and protected it under Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904, and the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) was assigned the work of its renovation and conservation.

After completion of urgent and necessary repairs, Wazir Mansion was handed over to the Department of Archaeology and Museums, the Government of Pakistan, on Aug 13, 1953, for its proper upkeep and maintenance. The birthplace museum was formally inaugurated by the then governor-general of Pakistan on Aug 14, 1953.

In 2004, a project of evaluation, strengthening, preservation, and rehabilitation, bringing back to its original form, presentation and up-gradation was started by the department of archaeology and museums at an approved cost of Rs25.04 million. The project was completed in 2010.

Now the museum consists of a three-storey building. The ground floor has a library and a reading hall, both the first and second floors have museum galleries, and the third floor has a custodian’s office.

IQRA AKBER Karachi