History I believe would have been much more interesting had we been taught more about historic architecture and the life that existed within it. Perhaps that life still wanders along the corridors of their architectural wonders, the remnants of which sometimes make the former inhabitants twist and turn with agony. However, Mohatta Palace, with its Indo Saracenic architecture is one such place that seems to have the privilege of having preserved an invaluable heritage with great poise. A step inside the now museum would take you back to the 19th century that you would not want to come out of.
Rumour has it that sometimes you can hear people partying at the palace at night with no one visible; however rumours can be shunned with rationality and logic until logic suggests that spirits exist, not to mention the haunted houses around. It’s a beautiful neighbourhood nonetheless! It makes you want to explore the nearby deserted houses as well.
Mohatta Palace is a combination of Mughal, Victorian, and European architecture that had been built with Jodhpur stone, hence, the yellowish pink hue. This used to be the abode of someone with great taste; an affluent Hindu Marwari entrepreneur from Rajasthan, India by the name of Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta got this magnificent palace built in 1927 as his summer home. The astute architect who took on this brilliant project was Agha Hussain Ahmed who had travelled from Jaipur for an assignment as chief surveyor for the Karachi municipality and Mohatta Palace was to emerge as the most astounding master piece of probably his entire career.
The palace spreads over an area of 18,599 square feet and the impeccably designed domes, balustrades, spandrels, brackets, and railings, form the exquisite façade. There are large rooms on the ground floor which were designed for entertainment with more private facilities on the first floor. The terrace faces the Arabian Sea which would have opened to a spectacular view back in the early 20th century.
Mohatta Palace was home to the Mohatta family for two decades until finally they decided to leave for India at the time of partition in 1947. It is when the Government of Pakistan acquired the building and had the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stationed at the premises. Later, in 1964, Fatima Jinnah moved to live here, following her demise, her sister, Shireen Jinnah started living at Mohatta Palace till she too also passed away in 1980 after which the place was sealed.
In the year 1995, the Government of Sindh decided to buy Mohatta Palace in order to convert it into a museum which till date serves education and entertainment at the same time. It was opened for public in 1999 and I remember our school took us for a visit the same year when the Talpurs’ treasures were displayed. The silver furniture, those real ruby, emerald, and sapphire studded daggers, and the coins of that era were some of the best things I have seen in a museum. Forget the Mughal or the Talpur era, I want to travel back to the 90s to my school days I dearly miss sometimes!
These days the museum has a cartography exhibition on display, titled as, ‘Drawing the Line: Rare Maps and Prints’. The exhibition showcases historic maps and prints of areas that add up to Pakistan’s land along with neighbouring territories of Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, India, and China. Below is a picture of the Mohatta Palace Museum Gallery Guide which I got for a donation of Rs. 300. Once you visit this exhibition and read the guide, you’ll know how sophisticated Islamic history was, considering the Muslim cartography and architecture.
|This picture includes a vintage Felca winding watch which is owned by my sister since 30 plus years|
And how could I not include the picture of this splendid painting of Mohatta Palace made by my art teacher, Mr. Hanif Shahzad. You wouldn’t want to take your eyes of this marvellous piece of art! I am in awe of how much talented a person can be.
|Picture snapped using my Samsung Galaxy Note 5|
As far as the palace is concerned, the only drawback in the view is the tall ugly buildings in the background but don’t worry, please seek help from Photoshop. Softwares like this come in handy sometimes.
The palace aka museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 am to 6 pm and the ticket is only wroth Rs. 30, it’s free however for students, children till a certain age, and senior citizens. Public transport is also easily available, as far as buses are concerned; those that have the palace fall in their route are Super Hassan Zai, Bus No 20, and N.
Here’s more from my trip to history.
Know your history, know your roots and get to acquaint yourself with the treasures of your homeland! Just observe what we are still left with …
All Pictures photographs were taken using my Nikon D3100 unless otherwise stated.