Jehangir H. Kothari

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Seth Jehangir Hormasji Kothari
Jehangir Hormasji Kothari 1857-1937.jpg
Born (1857-11-09)9 November 1857
Karachi, British India
Died 1 November 1934(1934-11-01)
Trieste, Italy
Occupation Merchant, landlord, philanthropist & world traveller

Sir Seth Jehangir Hormasji Kothari[1] OBE (1857-1934) (Urdu: ﺳﯾﭨﻬ جهانگیر هورموسجی کوٹهاری ‎), was a merchant and landlord of the Parsi community, and one of the prominent philanthropists in Karachi in the days before the independence of Pakistan in 1947. He is best remember today for the Jehangir Kothari Parade.


Kothari's grandfather, Hormusji Sohrabji Kothari (d. 1876), accompanied General Sir Charles James Napier as a commissariat agent during the conquest of Sindh Province in 1842-3 [2] and subsequently emigrated to Karachi from Surat in the Indian state of Gujarat in 1846 where he was eccentrically philanthropic.[3]


Kothari was born on 9 November 1857,[2][4] in Karachi.[5] He was educated at home and in the Karachi High School [2]

Kothari was a member of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and represented them at the Chicago Exhibition in 1893 [6] on the second of his eleven known voyages around the globe.[7][8] He published his reminiscences of his first voyage of 1883/4 when he traveled to Europe, Great Britain, United States of America, Canada, Japan, China, Straits Settlements, and northern portions of India.[8] Some of his subsequent voyages took him to more isolated regions, including the Society Islands, Fiji, Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, upper Amazon, Argentina, Uruguay, Yukon, upper Manchuria, Borneo, Nova Zembla and Spitsbergen.[9]

Kothari was also a member of the Royal Society of Arts and North British Academy of Arts, Life Governor of the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys and Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, Honorary Special Magistrate in Karachi since 1892, member of the Cantonment Committee in Karachi since 1890 and Municipal Committees in Karachi since 1884, Lieutenant in the Sind Volunteer Rifle Corps since 1895,[2] Life Governor of the Great Ormond Street Hospital and member of the Bombay Legislative Council [10] in 1911, fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and vice-president of the Navy League.[5][11] He was a patron, trustee or president of many charitable and other institutions in Karachi.[2]

Kothari demolished his house on Clifton Hill in 1907, where he built a magnificent pavilion, parade and pier, which he bequeathed to the people of Karachi. Inspired by this generosity, Kavasji Hormusji Katrak built and gave to the people the grand bandstand which looms over the cliff.[12] He also established a school for the blind and sanatorium in Karachi around this time.[9]

Kothari was awarded the gold Kaisar-i-Hind Medal (first class) on the occasion of the Delhi Durbar to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. He enjoyed sailing and was a member of the Ripon Club [2] and Willingdon Sports Club [5] of Bombay, the Zoroastrian Club and Parsi Institute of Karachi,[2] founding member of the Lloyd’s Polo Club of Poona and member of the Circumnavigators Club.[5][13]

Kothari contributed to the Great War by investing 2,550,000 rupees or £175,000 in the Third War Loan raised in January 1917, and acting as honorary secretary and treasurer in India for the Imperial War Fund. He performed numerous other honorary duties for the British Government for which he maintained a large staff at his own expense.[9]

Kothari was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 7 June 1918,[14] and subsequently knighted in the 1921 Birthday Honours,[15] which was conferred at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 8 July 1922.[16]

Kothari and his wife Goolbai visited Bangalore during a trip around South India in 1923. She suddenly became ill and died, and was subsequently interred in the Parsi Aramgah or burial ground.[5][17]

Kothari built a memorial, the Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall, to his wife in the Bangalore Cantonment in 1931/2.[17]

Kothari commissioned the Jehangir Kothari Building or Mansion on the corner of Napier and Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road in Karachi during 1934. It was designed with balconies, pillars, spiral staircase and clock tower after the Gothic style with certain features indigenised in the old Karachi style by subsequent additions. Today it is an eclectic mix of shops and offices in a deteriorating condition.[18]

Kothari was an ardent believer in the imperial ideal of the British Empire, for whom he acted as an unofficial world ambassador,[7] and was a member of the British Empire Club.[5] He was convinced that "the British love of sport is the strongest tie for peace", and promoted unity and peace in India through sport, especially cricket.[9]

Kothari died on 1 November 1934 [19] in Trieste, Italy.[4] His estate was administered by Messrs. Barrow, Rogers & Nevill of 26 Budge Row, London in 1937.[19]


  1. ^ "Hormusj" appears to be a misrendering of "Hormasj", which is the spelling found in his will, book and Who's Who in India entry.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kothari, Jehangir Hormusji page 176 in Supplement to Who's Who in India - Containing Lives and Photographs of the Recipients of Honours on 12th December 1911, Together with an Illustrated Account of the Visit of Their Imperial Majesties the King-Emperor and Queen-Empress to India and the Coronation Durbar by Prag Narain Bhargava, Newul Kishore Press, Lucknow 1912.
  3. ^ "Chapter 9 - Charity Galore in Journal of Informal Religious Meetings, vol. 5(8), Oct/Nov 2004". 
  4. ^ a b There is said to be a tombstone in the main city cemetery of Trieste, Italy bearing the inscription "Sir Jehangir H. Kothari, Kt., O.B.E., K.I.H. Born 16 November 1855, Died 1st November 1934". This contradicts the date of birth but confirms the date of death.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Who Was Who – A Companion to Who's Who containing the Biographies of those who died during the Period 1929-1940, Adam and Charles, London 1941, pp 767b and 768a.
  6. ^ The Zoroastrian Diaspora by John R. Hinnells, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005
  7. ^ a b Sir Jehangir Kothari – Noted Indian Philanthropist, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 August 1932, page 8g
  8. ^ a b Impressions of a First Tour Round the World in 1883 and 1884 - Embracing Travels in Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Japan, China, the Straits Settlements, and Northern Portions of India by Jehangir H. Kothari, Simmons & Botten, London 1889.
  9. ^ a b c d Great Traveller – Sir Jehangir Kothari – Distinguished Imperialist, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 1930, page 13e
  10. ^ To Visit Brisbane – Sir J.H. Kothari, Brisbane Courier, 27 July 1932, page 12f
  11. ^ The Navy League of Great Britain, often referred to as the Navy League, was merged with The Marine Society and responsible for the Sea Cadet Corps and later the Girls' Nautical Training Corps in the United Kingdom.
  12. ^ "Karachi and Its Parks by Aedeshir Cowasjee, Dawn, March 04, 2007". 
  13. ^ The Circumnavigators Club was founded in New York NY in 1902.
  14. ^ London Gazette, Issue 30730, Supplement, 4 June 1918, page 6717a
  15. ^ London Gazette, Issue 32461, 20 September 1921, page 7382b
  16. ^ London Gazette, Issue 32730, 18 July 1922, page 5354a
  17. ^ a b "History from 'The Bangalore Parsis' - Establishing the Kothari Hall by Dasturji Nadirshah P. Unvalla". 
  18. ^ "Some Mentionable Mansions by Peerzada Salman in Dawn". 
  19. ^ a b London Gazette, Issue 34403, 1 June 1937, page 3548b