Mohatta Palace

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Mohatta Palace
مہتا پیلس
MohattaPalace.jpg
Mohatta Palace is one of Karachi's most recognized landmarks
Mohatta Palace is located in Karachi
Mohatta Palace
Location within Karachi
General information
Architectural styleIndo-Saracenic architecture
Town or cityKarachi
CountryPakistan
Coordinates24°48′50″N 67°01′55″E / 24.814°N 67.032°E / 24.814; 67.032
Completed1927
ClientShivratan Chandraratan Mohatta
Technical details
Structural systemPink Jodhpur stone in combination with the local yellow stone from Gizri.
Size18,500 sq ft (1,720 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectAgha Ahmed Hussain

The Mohatta Palace (Urdu: مہتا پیلس‎) is a museum located in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. It was built in the posh seaside locale of Clifton by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Hindu Marwari businessman from modern day Rajasthan in India, in 1927, as his summer home.[1] The architect of the palace was Agha Ahmed Hussain.[2] However, Mohatta could enjoy this building for only about two decades before independence, after which he left Karachi for India. He 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 Indo-Saracenic architecture which was located not far from the sea.

Background[edit]

The Mohattas, belonged to the Maheshwari community,[3] originated with Motilal Mohata (spelled Mohatta in English) who migrated in 1842 from Bikaner to Hyderabad (Deccan) and became a clerk in a shop.[4] His four children migrated to Calcutta and became leading merchants of imported cloth. One of them, Govardhan Mohta, settled in Karachi in 1883. His older son, Ramgopal, became a scholar and author[5] (the Hindu Gymkhana, Karachi building was named after him[6]), and the younger son Shivrattan Dham Payio became an industrialist in Karachi (steel Mill, Sugar Mill etc.) with branches in north India.

Features[edit]

The palace has an area of 18,500 sq ft (1,720 m2) and its facade is trimmed with windows, stone brackets, spandrels, domes, balustrades with floral motifs and exquisite railings. There are nine domes, with a centre dome in the middle; while the windows in the front portion opening out into the garden are of blue colour and those in the rear area are arched windows with stained glass. The palace has large stately rooms designed for entertainment on the ground floor and more private facilities on the first floor, 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 the Hindu God, lord Shiva.

Mohatta Palace was a luxurious home built in the late 1920s, consisting of 18,500 sq ft. 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.

Upon stepping inside the building is a corridor which connects to each room situated on the ground floor. The ground floor contains large stately rooms designed for entertainment, two towards the right side of the entrance (north), two towards the left (south) and one at the back. The movement inside the building is through the great entrance into a spacious corridor that runs around a huge hall with ornate ceilings and a staircase on the South side.

There is a large square hall with seven openings leading into a corridor. The hall acts as a datum and around it the corridors are connected to the rooms where different activities are held. On the south between the two rooms is a solid teak wood, polished staircase connecting ground floor and first floor.

On each corner of the palace are octagonal towers, in which only two near the front entrance have spiral staircases which go up to the roof. At the far end, opposite the entrance is a room for entertainment which has few stairs on each side leading directly into the grounds at the back of the palace.

When viewed from outside, the ground floor has two very ornate windows on either side of the entrance consisting of three shutters in each. The same windows are on the north and south side as well, on either side of the stairs which lead from the rooms to the grounds. The octagonal towers have five windows each. In the same way there is a protruding ‘chhajja’ which goes all around the ground floor to provide shade.

The first floor has private facilities unlike the ground floor. Although this floor also has a large hall in the centre having ten doors which open into the corridor that frames it on two sides (north and south) and private rooms on the other sides (east and west). There are four large bedrooms with attached restrooms and dressing rooms. Each bedroom has two openings, more like ‘doors opening into doors’. The staircase on the south ends on this floor, leaving a passageway to the left which connects to the octagonal tower staircase that leads up to the roof. There is a similar staircase on the opposite end which leads up to the roof. Whereas the remaining two towers remain disconnected, just giving an outdoor view from the windows to each floor.

Similarly there are windows situated right above the ones on the ground floor giving a view of the vast grounds below. Also there are three openings into the large terrace on the first floor, which overlooks the Arabian Sea. Moreover, the roof top is perhaps the most interesting part of the building, giving an aerial view of the surrounding neighbourhood and the beautiful landscaping done in below.

The rooftop is connected by staircases coming all the way up from the ground floor, through the frontal north and south octagonal towers. The four octagonal towers are topped by chattris. In the middle of the towers, on both of the north and south side are dainty three portioned, rectangular chattris. Altogether there are nine domes, with a centre dome in the middle and smaller four domes around it. This is slightly elevated and is like a room overlooking the rooftop. It has stairs on the north and south side and the five domes are interconnected.

Exterior details[edit]

Mohatta Palace
Mohatta Palace
Palace before (left) and after (right) renovation.

Mohatta Palace is an elaborate building with intricate details which are present in almost every portion of this magnificent building. These are in the form of carvings. The delicate designs include bird’s wings in the large windows, situated in the top right and left corners of the arches.

There are also peacock motifs in the stonework and they are found around each of the nine domes. Also, there has been a lot of use of the scallop shape in upwards and downward positions around the lower areas, in the form of a strip going around the building and on top of the first and second-floor windows that protrude outwards. There are also many floral motifs around the surrounding wall, between each scallop, such as marigolds. Hibiscus flowers to are found lightly carved between rectangular shapes underneath all the windows, which are on the sides of the doorways.

Similarly, each window and doorway is framed by two large, intricately carved marigolds at the top right and left side of the arches.

Moreover, the balustrade terrace, rooftop and octagonal towers have dainty knobs and a rectangular box-like shape chiseled into each baluster.

Furthermore, there are decorative brackets underneath each window, projecting ‘chhajja’, entrance ways, domes, all around the building which makes it look more delicate to one's eye. Also, each of the columns around the building has motifs and flowers engraved horizontally between spaces. These go all around the building in a horizontal line.

Similarly, the five domes of the barsati have lines etched into them, giving them more form and texture, unlike the octagonal towers which are just plain except for the peacock carving which is present in all of the domes.

After Independence[edit]

After Mohatta's departure to India, the Government of Pakistan acquired the building to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947.[2] Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, moved into it in 1964.[2] In the '60s Mohatta Palace was dubbed Qasre-e-Fatima, becoming the hub of her presidential campaign against President Ayub Khan. After her untimely death, her sister Shireen Jinnah moved in to occupy the ground floor for many years. With her death in 1980, the palace was sealed.

Museum[edit]

In 1995 it was purchased by the Government of Sindh for its conversion into a museum devoted to the arts of Pakistan. The Government of Sindh took over 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.[7] A trust was established to manage the property and ensure that it would not be sold or utilized for commercial or any purpose other than that stipulated in the trust deed. Funds for the acquisition of collections for the museum and the construction of an extension are continuously raised by the trustees through private and public grants, donations, and other fundraising activities. Mohatta Palace Museum formally opened in 1999. Next to the main building can be found a small collection of "English" statues which once stood proudly at key public locations in Karachi but flamed public fury during political turmoil in 1960-61.[8] Some statues, notably the ones of Queen Victoria and soldiers of the Raj, were damaged during the turmoil.

Timings[edit]

  • Tuesday - Sunday 11.00 am to 6.00 pm
  • Friday Prayer break between 1.00 pm – 3.00 pm
  • Monday closed

Transport[edit]

The following public transport is available to the museum.

  • Bus: No 20
  • Minibus: N and W30
  • Coaches: Super Hasan Zai and Khan Coach.

Exhibitions[9][edit]

  • September 1999: Treasures of the Talpurs.
  • December 1999: Qalam - The Arts of Calligraphy
  • April 2000: Visions of Divinity - The Arts of Gandhara
  • September 2000: Threads in Time - Costumes and Textiles of Pakistan
  • November 2000: Miniature Paintings - A Revival
  • August 2002: Sadequain, The Holy Sinner
  • November 2003: Jamil Naqsh: A Retrospective
  • August 2006: The Tale of the Tile - The Ceramic Tradition of Pakistan
  • 20 March 2010 to 23 June 2010: The Birth of Pakistan hosted by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan
  • 2010 - 2011: The Rising Tide - New directions in the art from Pakistan 1990 - 2010.
  • 18 May 2011 to December 2011: "Rebel Angel: Asim Butt 1978-2010"[10]
  • February 2013 to 16 February 2014: Labyrinth of Reflections: The Art of Rashid Rana, 1992-2012
  • May 16, 2014 - Current: Drawing the Line: Rare Maps and Prints
  • July 10, 2015 - Current: A Flower from Every Meadow

Exhibitions in 2017 and 2018[11][edit]

  • May 8, 2018: Makli - Symphonies in Stone

Makli is one of the six World Heritage Sites located in Pakistan.[12] Particularly outstanding among its remains is an enormous cemetery which is spread over 10 km. In the cemetery there are close to half a million tombs and graves of kings, queens, governors, saints, scholars, and philosophers surrounded by exquisite brick or stone monuments, some of which are decorated with glazed tiles. An original concept of stone decoration with Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist influences was created at Makli and its remnants survive to this to be admired by local and international visitors.[13]

  • October 20, 2017: Imran Mir - Alchemist of Line

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1950 Imran Mir was an artist, sculptor, designer, and advertising trendsetter.[14] He studied in art schools in Karachi and Toronto and developed a new bold style of his own that initially dumbfounded art critics. But over time, Mir earned the admiration and awe of the art world. His friend and fellow artist Iqbal Geoffrey said about his work: “The pictographs that Imran instills or stirs are novel and enlightening – not parochial, parasitical nor forget-me-not mementos of the picturesque. Love, not logic, is his forte, i.e. metaphysical ménage-a-trios of palette, plate and platform. He trucks mobility, and his mode is poignant – pregnant with pragmatism. Never buttering literalism. Nor brandishing liberalism." Mir passed away in 2014 but his life's work continues to be celebrated.[15]

  • February 15, 2017- continuing: Paradise on Earth - Manuscripts, Miniature, and Mendicants of Kashmir

The title of this majestic exhibition is inspired by the famous quote by Mughal Emporer Jahangir when he visited the valley of Kashmir the first time. Translated in English from the original Persian, it means: ‘If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here’.[16] The displays on exhibit span 500 years, from the date of the first printed map of the South Asian subcontinent in the 1480s to the survey maps produced by British colonial official in the 1940s.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.dawn.com/news/784598/govt-takeover-of-mohatta-palace-after-partition-called-unfortunate
  2. ^ a b c http://www.mohattapalacemuseum.com/About%20the%20Museum.html
  3. ^ A small number of Maheshwaris remain in Sindh, mainly in Nagarparkar region
  4. ^ [Seth Motilal Mohata Ka gharana, Marwari Vyapari, Giriraj Shankar Sharma, in Marwari Vyapari, Bikaner, 1953 p. 115]
  5. ^ Eternal Social Science of Gita, Ramgopal Mohta, Mohatta Sales, Delhi 1963
  6. ^ KARACHI: Construction at Hindu Gymkhana, Dawn, Jun 23, 2005
  7. ^ "About the Museum". www.mohattapalacemuseum.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  8. ^ Zeb, Sanam (2016-02-28). "The treasures of Mohatta Palace". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  10. ^ Artwork of late renowned artist Asim Butt exhibited Daily Times 19 May 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2011
  11. ^ "Mohatta Palace Museum". www.mohattapalacemuseum.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  12. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Pakistan - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  13. ^ "Makli Hill". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  14. ^ "Bio". Imran Mir. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  15. ^ "Farewell to Imran Mir | artnow". www.artnowpakistan.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  16. ^ "A Paradise on Earth – These Quotes on Kashmir Justify Its Beauty | Tripshelf Blog". www.tripshelf.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  17. ^ "Drawing the Line: Rare Maps and Prints". www.mohattapalacemuseum.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°48.877′N 67°01.950′E / 24.814617°N 67.032500°E / 24.814617; 67.032500