City Landmarks – Goan Union Hall

Karachi Goan Union Hall building has such a pleasing look that it uplifts the mood of entire neighborhood. Just like Goans of Karachi have rocked the social and cultural scene of Karachi since migrating here from Goa.

Goans of Karachi originate from Goa, a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961 in Indian subcontinent. Being an enterprising community they migrated to booming cities within British India at the turn of 18th century. It was the time when Karachi emerged as an upcoming hub of trade and commerce and witnessed infrastructure development and population growth. Goans integrated into the economic and social scene of Karachi with ease. They not only excelled in Community Services, Education and Sports but also contributed immensely to the social scene of Karachi with their love for music and theater.

Karachi Goan Association hall, Goan Gymkhana and Goan Union Hall, at different time periods were built to cater to the burgeoning Goan population but it were not just community exclusive places where one could witness Goan rich traditions but Goan bands performed at most of the upscale hotels and cafes and their theater troupes performed at various theater halls across the city. Goan athletes made it to several national teams and represented Pakistan at international events. The tiny community contributed much more than their size.

Goan Union Hall is situated near what we know as Lucky Star Chowrangi now. The building is on the intersection of Bhicaji Street and Dr Syedna Mohammaed Burhanuddin Road. The modest architecture is not imposing and its aesthetics are sensitive to the location. Designed in a triangle shape it looks misplaced in present day Karachi. It should serve as a case study for architecture students in Karachi. And the buildings behind them too but for different reasons.

It is a private club which was inaugurated in 1931 and was designed by Messrs. Mistry and Bhedwar. There are shops on the ground floor selling surgical equipment. Bhicaji street has a huge surgical equipment market and the shops below the hall are part of them. There is a staircase leading to a huge hall on first floor which basically is the entire building for you. The hall can be a set of indie movies from 60’s. The hall does not rely on air-conditioning. It has a high ceiling with a gallery round the hall. There is a snooker table on one end and and a television set and dinning space at the other. There and lots of windows which ensure wind circulation. On a breezy monsoon day it feels better than a 5-star club or hotel in Karachi.

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Categories: City Landmarks

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