Hindu Gymkhana
Karachi, Pakistan
Designed by the first-known Muslim architect Agha Ahmed Hussain, it was the first public building in Karachi to boldly adopt the Mughal-Revival style. The choice of architect and architectural language is even more interesting because it was commissioned during a period when Karachi did not seem to be affected by communal tension rippling in the subcontinent. The Hindu Gymkhana was a club for the Hindu upper classes who formed a strong commercial elite in Karachi in the years before Independence in 1947. The Hindu community and Seth Ramgopal Gourdhanandh Mohatta contributed money for its construction.

The plan and massing was based on the tomb of Itamad-ud-Daulah (1628) in Agra. The building is small in size and consists primarily of a hall and some smaller rooms used for administrative purposes. Stone for the two-foot thick walls was acquired in Bijapur. The roof line is defined by delicate massing of cupolas and balustrades directly influenced by Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri. The octagonal corner towers framing the projecting central jharoka or porch are capped with chattris (domed kiosks). Smaller chattris highlight the corners of the projecting porch that carry the drooping bangladar roof used in Emperor Akbar's period. The projecting chajjas are supported by ornamental brackets. The cupolas of the chattris are reinforced concrete and the walls are dressed in Gizri stone. Some of the carved elements are of Jodhpur stone.

The building's condition has deteriorated over the years and was going to be demolished in 1984. This was prevented by an intervention by the Heritage Foundation. Today, it's been converted to a Museum for modern arts and crafts and is scheduled to open to the public by the end of 2002.



Sources:

Ansari, Nuha. 1997. Karachi: Edge of Empire. Karachi: Ferozsons (Pvt) Ltd.,71.

Lari, Yasmeen, and Mihail S. Lari. 1996. The Dual City: Karachi During the Raj. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 328-9.
Location
Karachi, Pakistan
Associated Names
Events
1925
Variant Names
Hindu Gymkhana
Building Usages
community center
public/cultural