Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi
On our 2nd day in Karachi our friends organized for us to visit one of the city's most prominent attractions: Mohatta Palace Museum. This building truly embodies Karachi's proud culture & history and a lot of love & effort seems to be put towards its upkeep. The gardens around the Museum are impeccable and well-cared for; there is a respectful & observant stillness in the air.
Shivratan C. Mohatta, a successful businessman commissioned architect Ahmed H. Agha to design a Rajput-style palace. It was completed around 1935. Later on, it served as the last residence of Fatima Jinnah (sister of Muhammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan). Nowadays, it has been restored & converted into a Museum that showcases numerous exhibitions.
During our visit "Ceramic Traditions - Tale of the Tile" was on display, exploring the ceramic traditions of Pakistan & the surrounding region from the Indus Valley civilization (approx. 3,500BC) to the present day.
Now, I'm not a fan of looking at pretty tiles, no matter how old they are, but I don't regret visiting. We spent about 1 hour here. The architecture is truly impressive. More than the current exhibit, we enjoyed looking at the ceilings, the doors, their handles and the flooring to witness a glimpse of a bye-gone era of grandeur & glamour.
More then 400 historical objects from the museums & private collectors around Pakistan were put on display including architectural elements, tiles and also calligraphic panels. Plaques explained the history and techniques of how these tiles & ceramic art pieces were made.
Regardless of whether you're sure what kind of exhibition is currently on display, I would definitely recommend visiting Mohatta Palace.
It's another one of those quiet places to take a breath and relax from the buzz of the city.
> Before entering you will be asked to open your bags & walk through a metal detector for safety reasons.
> Photography inside is not allowed.
> Entrance Fee: Rs. 10.- (in Decemer 2006)
Mohatta Palace was build by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Hindu businessman in the 1920's, using pink Jodhpurs stones with local yellow stones. The palace is situated in Karachi’s most fashionable and old residential district, surrounded by posh houses and embassies.
Mohatta palace served as the offices of Ministry of Foreign affairs and later handed over to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. After her death, the palace was sealed and left to rot for decades. However in the late 1980’s the governor of Sindh converted this into a Museum.
On continuous running, the palace has displays of paintings, artifacts, private collections of Talpurs and others, etc, with JEWEL IN THE CROWN being the best exhibit so far, which ran for more than 1 year, showcasing history of Karachi under the Rajj (British Empire).
In the late 1920’s Shivratan Mohatta, an ambitious self-made businessman from Marwar commissioned the architect Ahmed Hussein Agha to design a Rajput palace. The palace was to be located in the prestigious locale of Clifton on the Arabian Sea. After Mohatta’s departure to India, The Government of Pakistan caused a controversy by taking over the building. They used it for the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then they gave it to Fatima Jinnah in lieu of her brother, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s residence in India. In the sixties, Mohatta palace was dubbed Qasre-e Fatima, becoming the hub of her presidential campaign against Field Marshal Ayub Khan. After she passed away, her sister Shireen Bai moved in to occupy the ground floor. After her demise, the palace was sealed and left to decay.
In 1995, at the request of the Government of Sindh, Benazir Bhutto’s government assigned Rs.70 million to the Culture Department of Sindh to purchase and restore the derelict palace and convert it into a museum. The Culture Department spent Rs.61 million to buy the property and the rest was set aside for renovation. An independent board of trustees was set up and a curator was appointed.
The building was sandblasted back to its original colour. Layers of soil and grime that had accumulated over the decades were removed to reveal the original aura of the predominant pink stone. The roof, doors and windows that had fallen to waste were carefully conserved, as were the stunning Frescoes on the ceilings. The museum was restored to its original glory and the eloquent 1920’s cross-cultural masterpiece of Ahmed Hussein Agha won a new lease on life.
The museum opened its doors to the public on September 15th 1999, with the exhibition “Treasures of the Talpurs: Collections from the imperial courts of Sindh.” Today the Mohatta Palace Museum is the pride of the entire nation, attracting visitors and connoisseurs from far and wide.
Once belonged to a famous Hindu businessman and then to Miss Fatima Jinnah, sister of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah. Few years back the Govt. of Pakistan decided to turn this historic place into a Museum. Recently, Mohatta Palace holding an exhibition called "Karachi - Under the British Raj". Must see the palace even when exhibition is over but would suggest anyone visiting Karachi must pay a visit during this exhibition.
Fatima Jinnah's last residence which has recently been converted to a beautiful museum. Presently the exhibit, Crown in the Jewel, which depicts Karachi during colonial period.
Built in the 1920s in the "Rajistan Moghul" style. The current restoration foresees the creation of a museum of Pakistani and regional decorative arts.