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City Markets – Soldier Bazaar, Garden East

Do you have a Sunday ritual? Mine has been to do groceries from Empress Market for sometime now. After the anti-encroachment drive left Empress Market and adjoining areas bare and devoid of regular charm, I tried to explore new markets, from Lea market to Sunday bazaar in Gulshan. On one such Sunday, I visited Soldier Bazaar for the first time.

A lot of denizens of Karachi might not have been to Soldier Bazaar but must have heard about it (remember Desi version of Monopoly?) or identified the area by its name. Just like lea market, Soldier Bazaar became an iconic bazaar despite it being relatively new on Karachi’s landscape. The Garden East is a fascinating area. You can stand here and imagine how capital city Karachi would have looked like back in 50s. We talk about colonial architecture but come here and see how Modern day Karachi was unfolding here. Modern, Pleasing and well thought of. From houses to government institution, Garden East is full of architectural gems which needs to be preserved for future generations to see and get inspired.

You might be disappointed if you expect it to be another Lea or Empress Market but it has its own charms. The area itself is quaint and has lots of trees. The building was built in 1954 but the location was in use already as a market for British soldiers, inheriting its peculiar name from there. There were hawkers near the entrance but there was little hassling. The shopkeepers seem more interested in chatting than business or perhaps I was there at a wrong hour.

Like other historic markets in Karachi, Soldier Bazaar has been designed as a big hyper-mart with different wings for poultry and vegetables with necessary amenities. Just like every other historic market, Soldier Bazaar is in bad shape. The cracks are visible. Broken doors, shattered windows and glasses, stained tiles and littered alleys. We step out into the central courtyard and found what could have been a beautiful community space. This perhaps was meant as a resting place for shoppers with a tree planted in the middle and space accessible from all wings. We found some elders playing a game of ludo that day.

Soldier Bazaar was painted in a pretty shade of yellow, which usually denotes optimism. That shade of yellow has stains on it now.

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Categories: City Markets

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One Comment on “City Markets – Soldier Bazaar, Garden East”

  1. Dr vipulkumar
    July 11, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    Send me details of Karachi’s famous market.

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