Bohri bazaar is the one of the oldest marketplaces of Karachi, located in the heart of the city. It was established before independence, which makes some of these shops more than a 100 years old.

The bazaar has witnessed two horrific disasters, one of which was in 1958 when a huge fire broke out in a fireworks shop. The building, which was mainly made of wood, and another one nearby were burnt beyond recognition. The second incident took place in the 1980s when two bomb blast claimed dozens of innocent lives. The Bohri community also played an important role in reconstructing the market. (Photos by Eefa Khalid/ Hussain Afzal and Text by Suhail Yusuf)

Some of the shop-owners have been working in the market for decades. Take for instance, Abdul Rehman who is a luggage expert working in the bazaar for about 40 years now. From the damaged locks to broken handles of luggage, Abdul Rehman provides a one-stop shop for all problems related to luggage.
Some of the shop-owners have been working in the market for decades. Take for instance, Abdul Rehman who is a luggage expert working in the bazaar for about 40 years now. From the damaged locks to broken handles of luggage, Abdul Rehman provides a one-stop shop for all problems related to luggage.
Bohri bazaar is also very famous for party favours and decorations. Here you can find an array of artificial flowers, mehndi decorations and balloons.
Bohri bazaar is also very famous for party favours and decorations. Here you can find an array of artificial flowers, mehndi decorations and balloons.
Looking for artificial flowers to decorate your home or to use as a prop in your next school play? Look no further, Bohri bazaar has it all ? mostly imported from China, of course. According to shop owners, rose and lily flowers are among the all time top-sellers.
Looking for artificial flowers to decorate your home or to use as a prop in your next school play? Look no further, Bohri bazaar has it all ? mostly imported from China, of course. According to shop owners, rose and lily flowers are among the all time top-sellers.
High quality Ajraks are also sold at various shops. Many designs of Ajrak from Hala and Hyderabad are on display. In the past, Ajrak was only printed in few basic colours.
High quality Ajraks are also sold at various shops. Many designs of Ajrak from Hala and Hyderabad are on display. In the past, Ajrak was only printed in few basic colours.
Along with other shops, you will also find those related to beauty such as shops selling toupees, wigs and artificial hair. Wigs made out of original hair are available for men, while artificial wigs for women are imported from Korea, China and India. The most expensive are the ones from Korea.
Along with other shops, you will also find those related to beauty such as shops selling toupees, wigs and artificial hair. Wigs made out of original hair are available for men, while artificial wigs for women are imported from Korea, China and India. The most expensive are the ones from Korea.
Walking through Bohri Bazaar early in the day is like being transported back into time, witnessing a community-like feel among the shop keepers. Many of them have known each others family through generations.
Walking through Bohri Bazaar early in the day is like being transported back into time, witnessing a community-like feel among the shop keepers. Many of them have known each others family through generations.
Bohri Bazaar is also a home to one of the oldest Nimko shops in Karachi, which is still very popular in Karachi.
Bohri Bazaar is also a home to one of the oldest Nimko shops in Karachi, which is still very popular in Karachi.
Watching a tea vendor deliver chai to all shop keepers in the bazaar can make anyone dizzy, except for the person himself. Almost an art in itself, the chai wallah expertly weaves in and out of the bustling streets, handing out teacups that are slightly bigger than a shot glass.
Watching a tea vendor deliver chai to all shop keepers in the bazaar can make anyone dizzy, except for the person himself. Almost an art in itself, the chai wallah expertly weaves in and out of the bustling streets, handing out teacups that are slightly bigger than a shot glass.
Here you can find items ranging from kitchen utensils, clothes, shoes and decoration items to silver and gold jewelry, and stationary.
Here you can find items ranging from kitchen utensils, clothes, shoes and decoration items to silver and gold jewelry, and stationary.
One of the most popular items sold by the street hawkers is sunglasses. According to a couple of them, the trend in sunglasses these days are ones that are big and bold. However, it is mostly the men and children who buy sunglasses from the hawkers.
One of the most popular items sold by the street hawkers is sunglasses. According to a couple of them, the trend in sunglasses these days are ones that are big and bold. However, it is mostly the men and children who buy sunglasses from the hawkers.
Just like the other parts of Karachi, shoe shops selling saleem shahi, chappal and sandals are very common. One shop that sells naagra shoes was established in 1949. Saleem shahi and naagra shoes or sandals originated in Jaipur, India but become equally popular in Pakistan over time.
Just like the other parts of Karachi, shoe shops selling saleem shahi, chappal and sandals are very common. One shop that sells naagra shoes was established in 1949. Saleem shahi and naagra shoes or sandals originated in Jaipur, India but become equally popular in Pakistan over time.
Other than kulfi from Chaudry Farzand Ali, the bazaar is famous for its numerous chaat houses and ice-cream shops selling faluda.
Other than kulfi from Chaudry Farzand Ali, the bazaar is famous for its numerous chaat houses and ice-cream shops selling faluda.
Snack on a samosa from Nimko while you shop, followed by spicy chaat and end it with a delicious faluda. A trip to Bohri bazaar would be incomplete without this.
Snack on a samosa from Nimko while you shop, followed by spicy chaat and end it with a delicious faluda. A trip to Bohri bazaar would be incomplete without this.
Historically, the bazaar was also once a busy station for trams; those going towards Cantt Station from Tower would stop here.
Historically, the bazaar was also once a busy station for trams; those going towards Cantt Station from Tower would stop here.
As night approaches, the small streets inside the bazaar are surprisingly well-lit, mostly due to the bright lights set up inside and outside the shops by the owners. Shops remain open well after sunset, sometimes even busier than it is during the day.
As night approaches, the small streets inside the bazaar are surprisingly well-lit, mostly due to the bright lights set up inside and outside the shops by the owners. Shops remain open well after sunset, sometimes even busier than it is during the day.

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Comments (24) Closed

SS
Jan 31, 2011 07:29am
thank you for reminding us of the interesting places we have. All that needs to be done is improve/replace the electrical wirings, fix the drainage system. We must retain and strengthen such places and be proud of them
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Khalid
Jan 31, 2011 07:34am
I hope the boy has some plans to buy sunglasses.
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I. Zubeir
Jan 31, 2011 08:26am
The one & only Nimko that was there in Karachi while others carried similar snacks, my most favorite samosas with daal & other fillings. Now its seems that either others have copy catted this name NIMKO or are those franchises? They filled a lot of my party orders in the 50's & 60's.
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I. Zubeir
Jan 31, 2011 08:33am
Good article the pictures could have been better but its good to revisit Bohri Bazar.
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safia
Jan 31, 2011 08:42am
great pictures
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Reader
Jan 31, 2011 09:07am
Nice pictures and great descriptions. Keep up the good job Eefa and Dawn!
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muhammad mushtaq haj
Jan 31, 2011 12:33pm
beautiful pictures,it brought back a nostalgic feeling,i miss the pictures of books selling on the footpaths,and roof top cafe on zabunnina street.Nagori shop remind me that zari chappals were unaffordable by me in 1960s.So i bought one for my son in 2009,which he loves too much.Love pakistan,love karachi and love bohri bazar.
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Sohail Abbas
Jan 31, 2011 01:09pm
It is so very refreshing to revisit the good old days when we were living right where the bazar is. i wish the bazar stays as it is and no commercial mall takes its place.
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resham and henri
Jan 31, 2011 01:17pm
Even though we live in Defence/Clifton going to shop at Bohri Bazaar still remains a treat for the whole family.... for security reasons as also serious problems for parking we rarely get a chance but, really enjoy going there whenever it is at all possible... The 'bohri shopkeepers' should start a TRAINING SCHOOLfor salemen/girls for all the huge stores that have sprung up in all the other areas as there seems to be something seriously lacking in their behaviour and general attitude towards clients.......
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Narayan
Jan 31, 2011 03:37pm
What a smell of love... We too have similar bazar in Hyderabad, India. I am afraid that these small shop chains are being killed by corporate malls. At my place every girl/women would go to Carminar/Koti [Similar place as in pics] at least once in the life time to buy bangles or sandals. Such places are always sacred and wonderful as they just give joy wether you buy stuff or window shop. May God bless you..
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Sameen
Jan 31, 2011 06:53pm
great article but i was wish pictures were a little better! like the boy 'selling' sunglasses didnt have any lol... they should do this more often and remind us of gr8 places in karachi!!!
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Naresh
Jan 31, 2011 07:05pm
what a wonderful photos of place which wa use be play-ground for us be fore partition
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Patricia DCosta
Jan 31, 2011 07:28pm
The kids of today know only Park Towers n such. Bohri Bazaar was our Park Towers. Infact for me it was almost a 2nd home. Whenever anything was needed, it was off to Bohri Bazaar with my Mum n Dad. What lovely memories!!! :-)
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Tariq Majeed
Jan 31, 2011 08:18pm
You know what's more unique about Bohri's is their SIMPLE, ELEGANT, COST EFFECTIVE weddings. I only attended one but it was great by all [middle class] standards. Perhaps that could be a social motivator for others to follow, I don't know [due to privacy] if someone want to share a ceremony or two with Pakistan, but it would be a leading example for others to follow.
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rehana
Jan 31, 2011 09:31pm
been living abroad for 43 yrs. but still love visiting bohri bazaar when ever i go to karachi. always reminds me of my very first visit at 10, with my father and sister , had the most refreshing falouda on a very hot day. amazingly despite haidri,defence and all the aircon malls, one still finds more variety here. the shopkeepers are true examples of sitting it out whatever the political, economic and other upheavels bring. pakistan zindabad.
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Mahmood
Jan 31, 2011 10:46pm
Enjoy a lot the old and historical side of karachi. I would like to see similar pictorial view highlighting similar sites of karachi.
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Syed Hussain
Jan 31, 2011 10:51pm
Thank you so much of taking us down to our memory lane. I left Pakistan after completing college. One of our finest moments was visiting Bohri Bazaar especially the Nimko, I miss these places. These place remind us of our heritage, culture, and the core values of our society, we must strive to preserve these place and provide adequate services to the shop owners
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syedahmad
Feb 01, 2011 07:36am
All my family had been shopping at bori bazar for decades..I very well remenber the incident of fire at the location when I was a kid..even when I visit Pakistan ,I shop in saddar area.thank you for memories.
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Alizay Abid
Feb 01, 2011 12:13pm
Thank you for capturing every mood of my fav bazaar however; I feel that you have not done justice to the subject since you didn’t cover any architecture of the bazaar... the entrance, a few buildings e.g. liberty uniform etc. Anyway, I love visiting this place and we need to work on preserving the place.
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Mudassir
Feb 01, 2011 01:49pm
Great job, indeed! I'm sure Dawn will continue to remind us of our insensitivity to our history, heritage and culture.
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Ghulam Hussain
Feb 01, 2011 06:33pm
The pictures have no life and are too dark. I could have taken better pictures then these with my 5mpx digital camera. Not a good job at all.
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Mansur from Namibia
Feb 01, 2011 07:57pm
I have seen the old Bohri Bazaar...I was raised there...an awsesome bazaar...even way back in 1960 you could find anything and everything...good to be reminded...I enjoyed the NIMCO corner...
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Noel.Fernandes
Feb 06, 2011 02:19am
I always remember the hotel/restaurant we frequented.It was located on Clarke St at its junction with the end of Somerset St. They served fantastic halwa/puri. Further in was a small hole in the wall shop I bought all the cricket gear for the company team. Then there were the Lassi outlets in line with the channa/cholay sellers. Those were good days.
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Uzair
Jul 27, 2012 01:21am
I am the owner of Liberty Uniforms in Bohri Bazaar...when I go to this market every day...I see culture, architecture, history, skill, salesman ship...I envision cafes, art galleries, flower shops, book shops built into these beautiful historic buildings...with tourist peering at the displays. But! Its disappointing to see a guy in a vest spitting out pan onto the street from the windows one of such buildings. Another problem are the street stalls and carts, which do contribute to the overall ambiance and essence of the market, but they have been over-encroaching the street of bohri bazaar so much so that there is hardly space for 1 car to pass through. Whats worse is that they have political associations now. Recently there is a rift going on between ANP stalls and MQM stalls. Stall spaces on the street are being sold for money. To sum up, they are also the reason now that anyone with a car would want to stay out of Bohri Bazaar. However, just over the recent days, in a disagreement with the Police authorities, perhaps on their daily 'bhatta' they have been restricted not only from clogging the main street, but putting their carts in bohri bazaar. I feel sorry for the people earning their daily bread through these stalls but, it has opened up the parking in bohri bazaar and things do seem to be happening in order. There are people coming here this ramazan and bringing their kids to shop. I hope sooner or later the authorities get in their senses to preserve this city's heritage and make something out of the bountiful architecture that is found all around saddar. I also hope that the current situation prevails and there is order and security in the area.
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