City Landmarks – Lyari Quarters Dispensary

Edulji Dinshaw Dispensary on Sharah-e-Liaquat right before Empress Market is an important and relatively known landmark. It was donated by Edulji Dinshaw, a businessman from Karachi who also funded several hospitals, dispensaries and educational institutions. It still remains one of the most beautiful and inspiring buildings in present day Saddar. Almost looking like an anomaly in an era where design aesthetics are hardly a consideration! It was not the only dispensary that Mr. Dinshaw donated. There were three.

At about the same time when dispensary in Saddar was constructed (1882), Mr. Dinshaw also funded another dispensary in Lyari. It was called Lyari quarters. It still exists today.

A friend of mine helps me locate it. I am terrible with the directions in general. Despite driving I lose track of my whereabouts after crossing Aath chowk – the famous chowk in Lyari which connects eight different streets. Few turns here, few road blocks there, We find ourselves in front of a black gate beyond which I can see a stone structure. Unlike the dispensary in Saddar, this one has a walkway in front and a compound for the staff at the back, much like Gulbai Maternity home near Jehangir Park.

It’s quite apparent that the building has undergone several renovations. There is a slab on first floor which says that it was constructed in 1955. People at the dispensary explain that it commemorates foundation of first floor in 1955. The original foundation stone is nowhere to be found. A recent disastrous renovation has destroyed the ambiance. The stones in the facade are painted. The tiles inside the compound are a mismatch with the vintage feel of the building. However the building is in a neat condition inside. Almost as if it is not being used. There is a staircase at the back which again must have been added in 1955. The staircase has such stunning design elements. Most of which have been deemed unnecessary in present day architecture sadly.

The dispensary has been in much better shape than its contemporary in Saddar. It has survived and it still serves the purpose for which it was built. But is it celebrated the way it should have been? Is Mr. Dinshaw remembered for his generosity and the contribution to the denizens of Karachi?

Time to find out what happened to the third dispensary that Mr. Dinshaw built.

Categories: City Landmarks

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