Empress Market

Coordinates: 24°51′45″N 67°1′46″E / 24.86250°N 67.02944°E / 24.86250; 67.02944
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Empress Market
ایمپریس مارکیٹ
Karachi's oldest market, Empress Market is located in Saddar Town of Karachi, Pakistan.
Karachi's oldest market, Empress Market is located in Saddar Town of Karachi, Pakistan.
TownSaddar Town

The Empress Market (Urdu: ایمپریس مارکیٹ, Sindhi: ايمپريس مارڪيٽ) is a marketplace situated in the Saddar Town locality of Karachi, Pakistan. The market traces its origins to the British Raj era, when it was first constructed.[1] Today, it is amongst the most popular and busy places for shopping in Karachi. Commodities sold in the Empress Market range from condiments, fruit, vegetables and meat to stationery material, textiles and pets. A recreational park called Jahangir Park also is located nearby.


The market in 1890
Central tower of the market
The market at night

The Empress Market was constructed between 1884 and 1889 and was named to commemorate Queen Victoria, Empress of India.[2] The market was constructed at a well-chosen site that was clearly visible from a great distance. The site of the market had historical significance as it was situated on the grounds where a number of native sepoys were executed after the failed 1857 uprising against British rule. Accounts mention that the sepoys had their heads blown off by cannonballs in an attempt to suppress any mutinous feelings among the locals.[3] The British fearing that the local population will build a monument to honor the executed sepoys instead built the Empress Market to commemorate Queen Victoria.[3]

The foundation stone of the Empress Market was laid by the-then Governor of Bombay, James Fergusson in 1884, who also laid the foundation of the Merewether Memorial Tower. It was designed by James Strachan (architect), the foundations were completed by the English firm of A.J. Attfield, and the building was constructed by the local firm of 'Mahoomed Niwan and Dulloo Khejoo'. The building was arranged around a courtyard, 130 ft by 100 ft, with four galleries each 46 ft wide. The galleries provided accommodation for 280 shops and stall keepers; at the time of its construction it was one of only seven markets in Karachi.[4]

Empress Market is a grand structure in the Indo-Gothic style having vaulted roofs, cusped arches, a 140-foot-high clock tower studded with leopard heads.[5]

In 2017, according to the reports in the news media, Karachi citizens' hopes for seeing a badly needed renovation and repair job on this British Raj building were fading away. The previous Governor of Sindh also had ordered the building's renovation when he was in office, but they never materialized.[2]

Originally, Empress Market had 280 shops and stalls inside the building. In the year 1954, the KMC increased the number to 405 shops and stalls and also built an additional 1,390 shops and cabins on outside the building.[6]

Illegal Sales[edit]

Empress market is one of the places in Karachi where exotic and endangered species like Macaw, Falcons and other birds are sold without any approved license. On 24 August 2015, up to 50 protected birds and a pair of monkey were brought to sell in Empress, when a raid by wildlife department caught the people who brought the animals. The confiscated birds consisted of 20 Chukar partridge, 18 wild doves, eight black partridges, four grey partridges and two flamingoes.[7]

Encroachment Removals[edit]

Following a Supreme Court order, a major operation was launched in November 2018 to remove more than 1,000 shops constructed illegally on land encroached around the market and destroyed around 4,000 livelihoods.[8] The resulting clean up restored the visual grandeur of the market although social commentators objected to the destruction of a large number of small businesses some of which had been in existence for more than 50 years.[9]

At present, some small stands and shops can be seen right outside the premises.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haroon, Hameed; Mariam Ali Baig (2004). Karachi Under the Raj, 1843–1947: Visions of empire. Dawn Group of Newspapers. p. 186. OCLC 62134025., Retrieved 6 April 2018
  2. ^ a b No hope of early renovation of Empress Market Daily Times (newspaper), Published 25 July 2017, Retrieved 6 April 2018
  3. ^ a b Shazia Hasan (26 September 2016). "Vigil held at Empress Market, where blood of soldiers was spilt in 1857". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Empress Market - Wikimapia". Wikimapia.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  5. ^ Kohari, Alizeh (24 April 2022). "END OF THE EMPRESS (Market)". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  6. ^ Arif, Arif Hasan (1 December 2019). "One year later". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  7. ^ Ilyas, Faiza (25 August 2015). "Over 50 protected animals confiscated in Empress Market raid". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  8. ^ "Over 1,000 shops in Karachi's Saddar razed". Dawn (newspaper).
  9. ^ Hasan, Arif. "Saddar massacre". Dawn (newspaper).

24°51′45″N 67°1′46″E / 24.86250°N 67.02944°E / 24.86250; 67.02944