Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Karachi - Mohatta Palace

Event date: 6th February 2010

Karachi is a place where a thousand memory still lingers in my head, a place that I will not exchange in any other place in the world which once been a home to me and my family. The company rented a house for me at a safe residential area in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and later a comfy apartment in Clifton area. Those places are safe to say as it was guarded from any form of terrorism. The 1st place that I stayed for few months with CLC and CKS with Daim, the driver and the housekeeper/cook was a 2 storey bungalow in Khayaban-e-Hilal, adjavent to beautiful park "Hilal Park". We shifted to Platinum Park, an apartment opposite Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Clifton area as we have many of Malaysian staffs joint us for the project. I will have to write in length about those memory in a later days.

For now, especially today, I thought a lot about my BFF a.k.a Best Friend Forever, Maznah who is now still in hospital undergone her 4th chemoteraphy. Her family and I went to visit the palace on 6th February 2010 with the intention to have our pictures taken in this lovely palace. The palace seated so near to Platinum Park, the apartment that I used to stay with my family. Sadly that I did not visit the beautiful palace during their stay and/or the family reunion in December 2007, 2008 and 2009. Don't be surprise, not even 1 time we went there though the museum palace was so near.

The Mohatta Palace is located in Karachi, Sindh Province in Pakistan. It was built by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, an ambitious self-made businessman from Marwar as his summer home in 1927. The architect of the palace was Agha Ahmed Hussain. However, Mohatta could enjoy this building for only about two decades before independence of Pakistan and he left Karachi for India. After Mohatta's departure to India, the Government of Pakistan acquired the building to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947. Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, moved into it in 1964. In the '60s Mohatta Palace was dubbed Qasre-e-Fatima, becoming the hub of her presidential campaign against President Ayub Khan. After her questionable sudden death, her sister Shireen Jinnah moved in to occupy the ground floor for many years. With her death in 1980, the palace was sealed.

In 1995 it was purchased by the Government of Sindh for its conversion into a Museum devoted to the arts of Pakistan. As a result of the interest taken by the Government of Sindh who took over the ownership of the property and appointed an independent board of trustees headed by the Governor, to formulate recommendations on how best to adapt and use the palace. The trust was established to manage the property and ensure that it would not be sold or utilised for commercial or any other purpose other than that stipulated in the trust deed. Funds for the acquisition of collections for the museum and the construction of an extension will be raised by the trustees through private and public grants, donations and other fund raising activities.The Museum formally opened in 1999. Behind the building can be found a small collection of "English" statues such as Queen Victoria, soldiers of the Raj.

The museum is open all day except on Monday, at a time of, Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 6 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 7 pm.

Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta built the Palace in the tradition of stone palaces in Rajasthan, using pink Jodhpur stone in combination with the local yellow stone from Gizri. The amalgam gave the palace a distinctive presence in an elegant neighbourhood, characterised by Mughal architecture or rather a Rajput which was located not far from the sea.

The palace has large stately rooms designed for entertainment on the ground floor and more private facilities on the first floor (converted to an exhibition wall at present), where there is a terrace provided with a shade from intense sunlight. The palace is solely made up of teak wood with a polished staircase, long corridors and doors opening within doors. The "barsati” (terrace) of the Mohatta Palace had a beautiful family temple dedicated to Hindu God, lord Shiva.What many do not know about the Mohatta Palace is the secret underground tunnel that leads from the grounds of the palace all the way to a subterranean Hindu temple less than a kilometer away. This tunnel was apparently built to provide a safe passage for the Hindu wife of Shivratan Chandratan Mohatta to go for her daily worship. The tunnel still exists today, though over time it has caved in, and the entrance is blocked from both ends.

The 6th February 2010 memory with Maznah's family in Mohatta Palace is now being kept in this journal. I was all alone at that time as my family had demobilised to Kuala Lumpur. I had to wait for approval given by my big boss for my transfer date and to arrange the furniture's and all my personal belonging collected during my 3 years stay in Karachi back home. I am indeed indebted to Maznah, Dilla, Ainnie and many more Malaysian friend who had lend me their company, support and assistance during that period of time.

This entry is dedicated to all of my friends back there. Thank you for your friendship.
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