In 1870, Karachi was only sleepy fishing village;
now, amid the flurry of modern geometrical-shaped
luxury houses in exclusive areas, such as Defence
Housing Society. PECHS and KDA Scheme No. 1, and
the very contemporary shopping centers in these
localities, and other status symbols of the late
20th century, with which the city abounds, one
fails to notice number of exquisite Gothic and
Moorish works of architecture, built in Karachi,
during the days of British rule.
Amusing anecdote is linked with the arrival of
British in Karachi. Just after the failure of
Great War of Independence, in 1857, when the
British influence was beginning to spread to North
of the subcontinent, A British ship,
"Wellesley", with no more than 300
soldiers aboard under the command of Capt. Preedy,
was on vigil, a merely perfunctory one, assumes,
near the port of Karachi, by that time busy and
prosperous commercial town under the rule of
Talpurs. Friendly town, which had little desire to
disrupt it simple routine with undignified battle,
Karachi arranged that welcoming cannon blast be
fired from the fortress at Manora Island.
Mistaking it for an act of history, Preedy and his
300 soldiers took over the town, without so much
as a drop of blood being shed.
Capt. Richard Burton, destined to become the
famous Sir Richard, was put in Charge of Sind by
its conqueror, Sir Charles Napier, when the whole
of province came completely under the control of
British. It was Burton, who shifted the capital of
the province from Hyderabad to Karachi. But, the
development of the city to bring it on the level
with Calcutta or Bombay was hampered until 1937,
as Karachi was made an appendage of Bombay
Presidency and lost for many years its political
importance as metropolis. But, port trade throve
and in the course of time, the city was endowed
with its many fine, British style private houses,
public buildings and churches.
The most prominent of these is "Frere
Hall". Striking by reasons of its
Venetian-Gothic lines and built as memorial to
one-time Commissioner of Karachi, Sir Bartle Frere,
often referred to as "Architect of
Karachi", because of his great interest in
development of Karachi, the hall remains the
oldest public building in the city.
A drive around Queen's Road, Bath Island and
Clifton areas will reveal many colonial-style
residential houses, with their stone and brick
structures, red-tiled roofs and oblong
stained-glass windows. Another striking example of
Gothic architecture and one of the oldest
clock-towers on Pakistan, built in 1934 in memory
of former governor of Sind, is Mereweather Tower.
The main shopping center of the city was built by
British in Civil Lines district. The complex of
Bohri Bazaar, Saddar Bazaar and Empress Market was
developed about 1869. The area also encompasses
Governor's House and Sind and Gymkhana Clubs,
structures built in Gothic, Grecian and Roman
styles. To the same category belong St. Patrick's
Church, other Christian Churches, D.J. Science
College and Port Trust Buildings.
Formidable in their majesty are purely
Grecian-style, British-Indian structures: Karachi
Municipal Corporation, Chamber of Commerce, Bank
of India and Chief Court buildings, in red stone,
all of them built during 1930s.
And now, Karachi is bustling, bursting
international city, industrially and commercially
important city of Pakistan.