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Revisiting Kurachee...

Updated Nov 19, 2018 12:11pm

In this photo essay, we travel back in time to the Karachi of the late 1800s and early 1900s and discover what made it ‘The Glory of the East’.

Major landmarks


Merewether Memorial Tower
Merewether Memorial Tower

It was constructed in 1886 at the intersection of M.A. Jinnah Road and I.I. Chundrigar Road. It was designed by James Strachan, and built in memory of Sir William Lockyer Merewether, the Commissioner of Karachi.

The building cost Rs37,178. Shaped in the form of an Eleanor Cross, the Tower is 102 feet in height with clocks on each side.

The Star of David is also clearly visible on the exterior.

Karachi Port Trust
Karachi Port Trust

The KPT building overlooks Native Jetty, near the harbour, and is located near the beginning of M.A. Jinnah Road.

The building was constructed in 1915 to serve as the offices of the KPT; its construction being Rs974,990. This semi-circled, Renaissance-style building is three storeys high.

The ground floor has channelled masonry walls and is decked with huge anchors on its exterior. The two upper storeys are adorned with architraves, friezes and cornices.

K.M.C Building
K.M.C Building

K.M.C. BUILDING: Located on M.A. Jinnah Road, the building was built to serve as the venue of the KMC offices.It was completed on December 31, 1931, and its construction costs amounted to Rs1,775,000.

Jodhpur stone was used for the exterior, while the local Gizri stone was used for the rear and the interior. Designed in the Anglo-Mughal style, the building is shaped like the letter ‘E; with a clock tower that rises to 162 feet.

Frere Hall
Frere Hall

Located on Abdullah Haroon Road, the Hall was named after Sir Bartle Frere, a Commissioner of Sindh, and served as a town hall and venue for public meetings,dances, cultural performances.

Construction was completed in 1865 at a cost of Rs180,000. It was designed in the Venetian-Gothic style.

The surrounding gardens served as recreational grounds where concerts were held under a cast-iron,octagonal bandstand. Marble statues of Queen Victoria and King Edward VIII were unveiled at the Gardens in March 1906.

Jehangir Kothari Parade and Pavilion
Jehangir Kothari Parade and Pavilion

The two are located near Clifton beach on land donated by Sir Jehangir Kothari, a prominent Parsi resident of Karachi who also donated money towards the construction.

Designed by E.B. Hoare, the foundation stone for the Parade and Pavilion was laid by the Governor of Bombay, Sir George Ambrose Lloyd, in February 1919, and formally opened by his wife, Lady Lloyd, in January 1920. In March 1921, she inaugurated the adjacent Lady Lloyd Pier.

Cantonment Railway Station
Cantonment Railway Station

It is located on Fatima Jinnah Road and was completed in 1898 at a cost of Rs80,000. Constructed by the Public Works Department (PWD), in accordance with the wishes of the “European dilettanti who ruled India” the Station’s architecture is more classical rather than Gothic.

It has a pedimented centre,Renaissance doorways and Roman arches, and is flanked by two Romanesque gables at each end. The station has been restored to its former glory recently.

Markets and Shopping Avenues


Boulton Market
Boulton Market

Built in 1883, Boulton Market was named after Colonel C.F. Boulton, the Municipal Commissioner of Karachi at the time. It was one of the first vegetable and fruit market to have been established in Karachi.

Its size was increased in 1886 in order to accommodate stalls for fresh fish and meat. It also had three yards, three halls and several fountains. It was torn down a few decades ago, but the area it was once located in is still referred to as Boulton Market.

Lambert Market
Lambert Market

It was located on Ziauddin Ahmed Road and was named after W.R. Lambert, District Magistrate of Karachi (1867). According to The Gazetteer of the Province of Sind, 1919, this unique, dovecoteshaped market was located “at the meeting of five roads not far from the Sind College (now known as the DJ Science College)”.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and poultry were sold at the Lambert Market. Sadly, the Market was demolished decades ago.

Elphinstone Street
Elphinstone Street

Elphinstone Street, now called Zaibunnisa Street, was the prime shopping area of old Karachi, and housed many upmarket stores, including chemists (Bliss & Co.), drapers (Cooverj & Sons and Hajee Aboobucker & Sons) and tailors (D’Souza & Co.). No wonder then that Elphinstone Street or simply ‘Elphi’ was considered to be the most “fashionable” street of the city as a variety of imported items, be it clothes, wine, cheese or even Christmas cards, were available there.

Empress Market
Empress Market

Located on Preedy Street, it was named after Queen Victoria, “the Empress of India”. The foundation stone of the Market was laid on November 19, 1884.

However, due to financial difficulties, it was not until March 21, 1889 that the Empress Market was finally opened to the public. Built in the Indo-Gothic style, the market consisted of four galleries, an atrium and a grand, 140 feet high clock tower with dials on all four sides.


Photographs from the collection of Muhammad Rizwan Kodwavwala, Executive Committee Member, Philatelic Federation of Pakistan, Life Member, Stamp Society of Pakistan, and the author of Special Postmarks Of Pakistan 1947-2000.