City Landmarks – Jabees Funland

Have you ever wondered why Seaview has such great energy even on dullest of days? It is perhaps the only multi-class space left in the city. Clifton used to be a multi-space in general with Abdullah Shah Ghazi Shrine, Seaview, Mahadev temple, Funland and other parks providing recreational space for families belonging to all walks of life. Over the weekend and on other holidays, these spaces thrived with people visiting from all over Karachi and beyond but it never stopped from residents of Clifton and newly developed Defence from visiting them as well. This would change drastically in subsequent years.

In our quest to make Karachi world class, malls, skyscrapers, bridges, upscale parks and underpasses were prioritized, often at the expense of vibrant public and cultural spaces. Jabees Funland is case in point.

Founded in 1965 by Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Jabees Funland boasted many rides, a bowling alley, an air conditioned children playing area and an aquarium – popularly known as Machli Ghar – in its heydays. The rides included roller coasters, spinning wheel, dodgem cars and a mini train amongst others. There would be hardly any family who had lived in Karachi in 70s or 80s and had not visited Funland. People from all social strata visited it with their families and shared same facilities without any problem. One of the biggest attraction was an aquarium which attracted millions of visitors each year. It contained of several sea and freshwater exhibitions and was a frequent stop for school visits for children. Jabees Funland and Aquarium was a steady source of income for Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and it also ensured flow of funds for many handicraft and food stalls spread across the street connecting the funland with beach. Bowling alley had a different entrance as it had a different clientele, mostly young adults visiting it with friends keen to avoid crowded entrance of funland.

During the construction of Bagh-Ibn Qasim in 2005-2007, majority of the area was taken away from funland resulting in fewer rides while aquarium and bowling alley were destroyed for good. A vibrant public space was replaced with a dead park decorated with conocarpus. A colossal tragedy. It perhaps was beginning of the end of a multi-society Clifton. With the construction of Bahria Tower, the traffic has reduced further. Today, many a children living in close proximity might have never visited funland. They would never know what it meant to ride Hulli Gulli.

Visiting Jabees Funland now evokes a sense of loss. While one may be accused of romanticizing old Karachi and engaged in defining what qualifies for heritage, there is hardly any doubt that policing often determines the future of heritage and cultural spaces. Look at the photos and visit while you can.

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Categories: City Landmarks

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One Comment on “City Landmarks – Jabees Funland”

  1. Zafar
    June 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm #

    I grew up in Karachi.

    I went to Clifton by seaside hundreds of times.

    I specially went there on full moon nights as an adult.

    I appreciate what u R / Karachiwala doing . .
    . . .
    Zafar Ibrahim

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