On our first day in Karachi our friends drove us around the city.
As we needed to change some money, they took us to I.I. Chundrigar Road. (Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road) This district could be considered the financial headquarters of Pakistan & the centre of Karachi's economy and boasts some of the cities newest & most modern buildings. This doesn't mean that you should compare the architecture & appearance to Manhattan... we still saw beggars around the corner and a young boy with a monkey on a leash, trying to entice tourists for some business; everything is relative after all.
The road used to be called McLeod Road during the British Colonial rule but after Pakistan's independence in 1971 it was renamed after the country's former Prime Minister, Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar.
Most of the headquarters of Pakistan's financial institutions are located on this road, including one of the country's tallest towers (with only 24 stories): The Habib Bank Building.
There's not much more left to say about this area. You can drive through & see it all in 5-10min. A good tip for this area is (obviously) money exchange: Our friends recommend GLAXY Exchange to change cash and we used another of their branches in the city on another day as well. Quite professional staff & quick service.
On our first day in Karachi our friends took us for lunch to the dining hall at the Karachi Club. The restaurant seats 120 persons (smoking & non-smoking) & specializes in Pakistani-Continental & Chinese cuisine. The venue is fully air-conditioned and serves a daily buffet or also a-la-carte options.
We had vegetable biryani (rice), a nicely mild vegetarian curry & gorgeous naan bread. Prices are very reasonable (probably quite high compared to non-hotel restaurants!) The bottled water is opened at your table & even though this is a relatively "up-market" place by Karachi standards, we still opted to not have ice cubes or salads.
Karachi Club is said to be one of the most prestigious and definitely oldest Clubs in the city. It was established in 1901 and the heavy British Colonial influence in the architecture & furnishings is unmistakable. The club continues to expand & renovate and holds regular social, cultural and sports events.
Tennis Courts & Squash Courts.
Bridge / Card Room.
Table Tennis Hall.
Billiard & Snooker Room.
Barber Shop & Hairdresser.
You need to be a member to enter the Karachi Club, so if you know someone that can take you there for a few relaxing hours I definitely recommend it.
Note: Photography in and around the club is not allowed... but I managed to snap a few pics for you anyway ;-)
The Merewether Tower is an elegant and tall structure designed in the medieval England style of architecture. Named after General Sir William L. Merewether who served as 'Commissioner-in-Sindh' from 1868 to 1877, the tower stands on a platform 44 feet square and rises to a height of 102 feet. Merewether Time Tower was designed by James Stratchen, a prolific architect who has great building like Denso Hall, Jehangir Kothari Building and Empress Market to his credit.
It is situated on a very prime location. This area is rich in old architecture. Denso Hall, Bolton Market, Wazir Mantion, Sind Madressa-tul Islam, Habib Bank Plaza, State Bank Building, Stock Exchange Building all are on walking distance from here.
The Flagstaff House, which was built sometimes in 1890, was purchased by Mr Jinnah from Katrak family before partition, prior to which it was used by the General Commanding Officer of Sindh. However Mr Jinnah never resided in the Flagstaff House.
The Flagstaff house was designed by Moses Somake, and he borrowed heavily on Italianate architectural themes.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah (sister of MA Jinnah) moved into the Flagstaff House after the demise of her brother in 1948, and lived here until 1964. Then she moved to Mohatta Palace in Clifton, where she lived until her demise in 1967.
Trivia: Fatima Jinnah ran her unsuccessful election campaign against Ayub Khan from this house. Now it has become a popular venue for various music videos (e.g. Shehzad Roy’s Sali) , dramas, and commercials.
The House is now used as a public library and museum and houses personal belongings of Quaid-i-Azam MA Jinnah. Admission is free, photography not allowed but on personal request (if you are all alone inside the house - no other visitor), the guide may let you take some snaps.
St. Patrick's Church,was built in 1845. It was Sindh's first Catholic church. Today it is flanked by St Patrick's High School.
Present Cathedral was opened in April 1881. It is built in Gothic style; it measures 170 ft by 75 ft, and has the capacity to accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at the same time.
It has a magnificent marblestone "Christ the King" Monument, which was constructed in 1931.
It is situated on Shahrah-e-Iraq, formerly known as Clarke Street, located near the Empress Market in Karachi.
Note: Saint Patrick's Cathedral & FRERE HALL are two seperate buildings. The Cathedral is situated in SADDAR not in the FRERE HALL area. Some guys have misguided it as FRERE HALL. (See Frere Hall Tips)
One of the really pleasant surprises in Karachi was that post box. Royal mail style post boxes were outside main post office. I didn’t see those boxes anywhere else in the city. I think that those post boxes must be from British Empire before the independence. The state of those boxes are not great and I wouldn’t have courage to post my important letter in that box.
Pakistan National Shipping Corporation building is one of the most important buildings in Karachi.
It is nothing special but in a city of an underdeveloped country this building seems to have centre of attention. It is located next to sea which makes a beautiful view.
Independence monument .
This monument is dedicated for those people who lost their lives in the fight of Independence in 1947. Pakistan used to be a British colony before 1947. in the fight of independence thousands of people lost their lives and this monument pays tributes to those people.
This palace is situated in the area of Clifton, built in 1933 in a Mughal Ghothic style with imposing domes and cupolas. The palace was used as the residence of Quid-e-Azam's sister, Fatima Jinnah until her death in 1967. It is also known as Qasr-e-Fatima Jinnah.
The building of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is one of the oldest in Karachi. The building is old and built well before the independence of 1947. the whol building is made of stones like any other old building of British time in subcontinent. The building is absolutely awful from inside as it has not been maintained at all.
This is an old decommisioned Boeing 707, which belonged to the national carrier PIA. The old plane is parked next to the Planetarium. Initially this was made a restaurant but it did not fare well, and has now been converted into a museum showing Pakistan’s landscape (short film). But for us the highlight was when I asked the gate keeper to open the cockpit and my two kids jumped, sat on the captain's chair, and enjoyed flying the jet airplane.
Although the cockpit doors are kept locked, but on insistence and depending on how many people are there, they may open.
Tickets are Rs. 30/- for adults and half for kids.
Karachi is the capital of Sindh province. Sindh is the second largest province is Pakistan. It has its own High Court. The building of High Court is another example of good architecture by British Empire in sub continent. The building is built of stone and looks very elegant. High Court id the biggest court in province.
Governor House is another beautiful building in Karachi. Sindh province has its own governor who is the administrator of the province. I didn’t get the chance to look the building from inside as too much security around that building. I was stopped at the main gate and asked to turn back. Never mind, you could try to get in.
In the heart of Karachi there exists a planetarium, which very few of the local inhabitants knows about. It is situated next to the Expo center, on University Road and a visible landmark is a Boeing 707 parked right next to it.
However the show is archaic, needing some investments and up gradation. The planetarium was inaugurated by Pakistan’s late President General Zia-ul-Haq in 1984, and it seems like that they are still showing the same program that was developed at that time.
But still, this is available and it does have some few moments that will amaze you.
Tickets are Rs. 30/- for adults and half for kids.
University of Karachi
The most impressing thing, I found in Karachi was University of Karachi. I am not sure about the education standard and facilities but, place is really good. It is spread on a big place has plenty of buildings of different departments. You need some sort of identity card to get into University; luckily I had my driving licence so not much problem to get in
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