City Walk – Around Max Denso Hall

It’s always a pleasure to walk leisurely on M.A.Jinnah road. Its a luxury which you can afford only on a Sunday morning though. Walking around Max Denso Hall intersection in particular is an utter delight. Jehangir Kothari building, Max Denso Hall, Mandiwala building and Mercantile Cooperative Bank Building represent an era of Karachi which is slowly decaying. An era when constructing a building was an artistic undertaking and the proposal’s feasibility was not solely judged by soulless numbers. The buildings in spotlight still surve econmic interest but somehow it does not warrant care and respect from their owners. Complex ownership rights, non existent maintenance committees and general apathy towards heritage has led to the scars of time on these structures. Max Denso Hall had its fortune when it was handed over for renovation to Heritage Foundation. Although it still is not open for public but is in safe hands. Jahangir Kothari Building, Mandi Wala Building and Mercantile Cooperative Bank Building have not enjoyed such change of fortune.

Max Denso hall was built in the honor of Max Denso who chaired Karachi Chamber of Commerce from 1870-71. The Municipality allocated the site on Bunder road and provided additional funds. James Strachan was the architect and the project was completed in 1886. The building included a library and a reading room on the ground floor and a hall on first floor. Local Gizri Sandstone was used in its construction. The architecture is Venetian Gothic in character. The main road facing side has projected balconies with carved balusters. The clock on the top was a gift from Rao Sahib Ramdas Morarji.

Jehangir Kothari building is a hustling bustling bazaar of leather belts now. There are office on the first floor but despite its economic value, the place is clearly suffering from multiple ownership issue. The owners of different blocks within the building have rennovated it the way they want: different colors and different accessories. One thing common however is the collective apathy towards the wellbeing of this building.

The Mandiwala building or Hafiz Chambers was built in 1876. On the first floor are the offices for the manufacturers of variety of belts. On the ground floor are random shops which specialize in electronics and Caps.

Mercantile Cooperative Bank building’s case is no different. The first thing you notice on the facade is dirt. The place has clumps of dirt clotted on the curves to die for. Dirt, shattered windowpanes and electrical wirings give it a haunted look. The shops on the ground floor have made the changes to the facade and the flooring. Shops here sell everything from electronics to Jinnah Caps. There are quite a few stores selling Jinnah caps here.

Move to the left or right of the intersection, you are bound to get delighted. Stay tuned. There is more to come.

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Categories: City Walk

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3 Comments on “City Walk – Around Max Denso Hall”

  1. October 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Love it man. You really have explored unseen Karachi.

  2. Anonymous
    August 7, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    I have never seen Pakistan . I came across your reference by ” Guardian Times ” London published in “The Hindu” one of India’s leading newspaper. I am beginning to enjoy Karachi.If only “partition” had not taken place !!. Keep it up

    HV Rao
    Coimbatore, South India

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