If you want to experience a bit about the culture of old Karachi, consider heading to the Dawood Foundation Ghar located on M. A. Jinnah Road. This period house, built in 1930, was owned by a Hindu woman, Haribai Motiram, who sold it to Hanifabai Haji Gani (the founder of Hanifa Bai Hajiani Government Girls Secondary School) in 1948. The house was restored in August 2017 and turned into a public space.
Built on a 709 square-yard plot, the house is designed in a British colonial architectural style. It is a double storey building with six rooms and a rooftop. Painted in warm yellow colour, the house has ornamented columns, eaves and pitched windows. The doors are solid wood, with pigmented concrete tiles and mosaic pattern. As you enter the house, you see a veranda, covered with fruit trees of badam, imli and champa, and a two-foot projected balcony with curved baluster. From veranda, the door opens to the living room, which is now a museum for antiques artefacts and collectables including a Remington typewriter, vintage bookshelf, rotary dial telephone, an Anglo-Indian vanity dressing table (singhar), high-ceiling fans, chandeliers and chessboards, all this take you back to the pre partition era. The ground floor also has a documentary room where you can see movie clips of an old Karachi.
As you walk out from the living room, you will enter a courtyard where lies a beautiful Sehan Café – decorated with lanterns, marble-top tables and Irani bentwood chairs. Previously, it was an empty space used for vocational training for women in early 60s. The café offers chai and light snacks for the visitors, and on weekends serves traditional nashta; it is also an ideal place to enjoy with your friends or read a good book. The courtyard also features a kitchen and a bathroom, and it’s designed similar to the 1930s. Near the café, there is a staircase which displays photographs from the pre partition era. It leads to the first floor which has four rooms, known as Numaish rooms and are used for art exhibitions, workshops and seminars. Along with the museum and café, the most appealing spot of the building is its rooftop, which is embellished with hand-crafted tiles and offers a scenic view of the Quaid’s mausoleum.
Nearby TDF Ghar, you can find several amenities such as banks, car showrooms, educational institutes, hospitals and petrol pumps. A few eateries offering desi food also have a presence there for the residents and visitors. Plenty of shopping avenues are located within a 10-minute drive away and include stores that deal in homeware, fabric and furniture.
While this part of Karachi may not be the city’s trendiest, the presence of TDF Ghar makes it well-worth a visit.