17 Sep 2014
Discover Karachi's hidden architectural heritage with The Karachi Walla
Farooq Soomro, through his blog as The Karachi Walla, has built a cult following with his tours of the city's hidden architectural gems. Stories, photos and tours give residents and those further afield a chance to explore the heritage of this vibrant Pakistan city.
Link to Farook Soomro video on The Guardian
Muggings and carjackings are perils of daily life, while many of the architectural gems of the city of Karachi in southern Pakistan are hidden in the roughest parts of town, far away from the suburban sprawl where most well-heeled city dwellers live.
However, one enthusiastic amateur is encouraging his fellow Karachiites to ignore the dangers and explore a city full of once handsome 19th-century buildings, many in a state of advanced decay. "Karachiites are completely unaware of the heritage they have," said Farooq Soomro, a young office worker who spends his spare time leading intrepid explorers on tours of the metropolis. "When visitors used to ask me what to visit, I realised I didn't know my own city."
And, for those who do not live there, The Karachi Walla provides an online doorway to explore some of the hidden jewels of Karachi's architectural heritage.
On the website, you can read about Karachi's secret Polish connection, Karachi's Goan Portuguese landmarks, visit book stalls, churchyards, cafes, temples, kite sellers, hospitals and city monuments.
Here is how Farooq Soomro introduces his city:
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in*. Karachi fits the bill for many.
Vibrant and Colourful. Karachi is the darling of poor and rich alike. Unpredictable and Violent. Karachi is the nightmare for poor and rich alike.
Home to the most diverse of populations. Muslims, Parsis, Jews, Christians, British, Shia, Sunni, Balochi, Sindhi, Pakhtun, Kashmiri and others. Many of them like Karachi. Many of them hate Karachi. Karachi, like a gracious mother, has embraced them all. It has given them freedom to be themselves. Some dream during the day. Some work during the night. Some quote Shah-jo-Risalo. Some sing Bulley Shah. Some read Jane Austen. Some recite Faiz Ahmed. Some find comfort in extreme interpretations. Some walk barefoot in its shrines. Some destroy sanctity of its shrines. Some try to make it proud. Some try to slaughter this goose to steal all its golden eggs. All at once.
The diversity makes Karachi beautiful. The diversity makes Karachi painful.
Long live Karachi.
Read more in this article in The Guardian
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