Karachi is the largest and most populous city in Pakistan. It is the capital of Sindh Province and the main seaport and financial center of Pakistan. At one time this city was the capital of Pakistan until the city of Islamabad took over the role. It is a city with many different nationalities among its residents. There are many historic mosques to see and lots of interesting mountain trekking to participate in.
For holiday fun or a relaxing Sunday both tourists and families head for Sandspit. This is a natural breakwater. It is best to swim in recognised areas. The beach is great for taking long strolls. Some of the beaches stretching along the coast contain stinging jellyfish which emerge especially during the monsoon from July to September.
The busiest beach is Clifton Beach where people prefer to stroll rather than take a swim. The sand is mud-grey. It is a wonderful spot to people watch. You can take along a picnic or barbecue right on the beach. You can have the beach practically to yourself before late afternoon when it fills up. It is particularly festive on Sundays. You can have camel and horse rides and there are stands that sell cold drinks, chai (tea) and grilled corn. For a small fee you can enter the park and promenade.
Other attractions here include a nearby amusement park with fun rides. Tri-bikes have become popular and can be booked on hourly rates. For movie fans there is the Cineplex Cinema.
Later on you can head for Dolmen Mall which has become a popular shopping destination since you can find international brands here and international fast food.
Just a short ferry ride away Manora Island awaits you. This was the site of a fort where Karachi’s Talpu rulers surrendered to the British, who later erected a lighthouse in its place. The lighthouse still stands. There is a small beach overlooking the remains of a 19th century Hindu temple. Swimming is discouraged due to strong currents and pollution. However it is nice to stroll about the beach and enjoy the sea breezes. You’ll find food stalls here that sells food items like fresh fish in batter.
The Defence Housing Authority Mosque is Pakistan’s most eccentric looking mosques, It was built in the late 1960s. This is a low-slung mosque with one vast dome and has no supporting columns or vaults. At 72 diameters this tent-like dome claims to be the world’s largest. It was constructed of white marble and has thousands of mirror tiles in its thermally proofed interior, giving the impression of twinkling stars. Visitors are welcome here but prayer times should be avoided and Fridays. It is also known as the Defence Society Mosque.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum is a most impressive outdoor museum with more than 30 aircraft on display including an Indian Gnat that was captured by Pakistani forces in 1965. Guided tours are free and you’ll find that weekdays are much less crowded.
Karachi has many architecturally interesting British Raj buildings. One of the ones that stands out from the rest is the palatial Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building. Most of these buildings are used for government offices so are not always accessible to sightseeing. This particular building was built in 1935 to mark George V’s Silver Jubilee. The building has Oriental cupolas at its four corners and a lofty clock tower.
Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum is an oddly shaped mausoleum which stands as a monument to Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The mausoleum sits upon a stepped pyramid in a small park. It was built from 1958-68 and designed by a Turkish architect. The white marble structure supports a semicircular dome.
The National Museum of Pakistan displays items like a two-million year old Stone Age axe that was recovered from the Potwar Plateau and other artifacts from around Pakistan. There is an interesting Islamic section that outlines the early Arab settlements of Debal and Mansura. In the “Freedom Movement” gallery you can find a collection of photos and newspaper articles that tell the story of the independence movement.
Mohatta Palace was a residence of Jinnah’s sister Fatima. This is an impressive British Raj building that went through restoration in 1999.Exhibitions here detail the history of Pakistan’s distinctive artistic heritage. Afterwards you can take a relaxing stroll in the gardens.
Another fine example of British Raj architecture is the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Inside you’ll find some fascinating plaques that were erected to the memory of British soldier who died in various campaigns. Church services are held at 9AM every Sunday.
On a hill above Clifton Beach stands the Ziarat of Abdullah Shah Gazi, a green-domed shrine dedicated to a 9th century Sufi. On Thursday nights Qawwali (Islamic devotional singing) takes place here. Beneath the shrine is a freshwater spring that pilgrims say has mystical healing qualities.
Flag Staff House, an imposing British Raj mansion is also known as the Quaid-i-Azam House. It was once owned by Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The house was built more than 100 years ago and has extensive grounds. Today it is home to the Jinnah House Museum. Visitors can see Jinnah and his sister, Fatima’s private apartments with period furniture and accessories.
Jinnah was born and raised in Wazir Mansion. The home contains some relics related to the revered leader. Advise of your visit beforehand and it should be arranged through the PTDC office.
The Empress Market is a famous marketplace in the Saddar Town locality of Karachi. The market was constructed in the British Raj era and today is among the most popular places to do some shopping. At the market you can purchase a wide range of products like condiments, fruit, vegetables and meat as well as textiles and products for pets. The building was arranged around a courtyard with four galleries each. The galleries provide accommodation for 280 shops and stall keepers.
Merewether Clock Tower or Merewether Tower is a memorial for Sir William L. Merewether, who served as “Commissioner-in-Sindh” from 1867 to 1877. The tower stands on a 44 foot square base and rises to a height of 102 feet. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style that was popular in Victorian England. The structure was built of buff colored Gizri Stone and shows great attention paid to detailing with an emphasis on carving and decoration. It takes the form of an Eleanor Cross.
Eleanor Crosses were a series of 12 monuments erected in England by Kind Edward I between 1291 and 1294, in memory of his wife, Eleanor of Castile. Other impressive clock towers are found all over Pakistan.