Mohatta Palace Museum – Old Heritage in Karachi


In the heart of the bustling city of Karachi, one finds some of the most detailed architecture, dating as far back as the period of the British Raj. With the British annexation of Sindh in 1843, many of the buildings in Karachi visibly adapted to a refined architectural phase, based on a blend of Victorian, European and Mughal elements. A classic example of this is the Mohatta Palace, located in the affluent Clifton area. Built in 1927 at the behest of the accomplished Marwari entrepreneur Shivratan Chandratan Mohatta, this majestic two-story palace covers 18,000 square feet, and now serves as a museum for creative exhibitions held all year round.

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Mohatta came from the Indian province of Rajasthan and commissioned a Muslim architect, Agha Hussain Ahmed, to build this palace as an everlasting token of love for his dying wife. Ahmed made use of the Indo-Saracenic Revival style to ensure that the palace became his best-known work. However, Mohatta was only able to reside in the palace till Partition. In the words of the Assistant Curator of the Museum, Khalid Soomro, “the Mohatta Palace then became the Foreign Services Office for the newly created country till 1964”. Later, Fatimah Jinnah decided to move into the palace, residing in it until her death in 1967. Her sister, Shireen Jinnah, then took over until her death in 1980. The palace then remained abandoned for nearly 15 years, after which the Government of Sindh decided to restore it.

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Mohatta Palace was a luxurious home built in the late 1920s, consisting of 18,500 sq.yards. The elegant palace is built on different levels and was a summer house for the Mohatta family for two decades before they left for India in 1947. There are three levels, basement, ground floor, first floor till you reach the roof. The basement that lies on the north side of the building is quite small and comprises a staircase going downwards towards a hot water pool chamber which has a connected changing room. They say it had a hot and cold water system attached, which would supply the water to the pool. Near the pool chamber are small ventilators, two on each side which may have been used as a source of sunlight and letting out steam.

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