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Built in 1883, Boulton Market was named after Colonel C. F. Boulton, the then Municipal Commissioner of Karachi. It was one of the first vegetable and fruit markets to have been established in Karachi, and measured 100 feet in length and 80 feet in width initially; the size was increased in 1886, to accommodate stalls for fresh meat and fish. It also had three yards, three spacious halls, as well as several fountains.
The Market lives on… A few decades ago, the building was demolished and another building was constructed in its place. However, Boulton Market lives on, as the site where it was constructed continues to be called Boulton Market.
Wholesale heaven… Boulton Market is the hub of Karachi’s wholesale shopping. Retailers from across the city flock there to do their bulk buying at discounted rates. From fashion accessories to crockery, electronics and spices to confectionaries and oils, the shops and stalls are packed to the rafters with interesting things to buy that compel even the most hurried shoppers to pause and linger.
Markets within the market… Several smaller specialist markets (dedicated to one kind of product) are located within Boulton Market, making it easy to navigate the area. So if you need to buy paper and stationery, head straight to the small ‘Paper Market’. If you are looking for some impressive bottles to use as home accents, then visit a lane dedicated to empty bottles (not to be confused with the better known Botal Gali, which is nearby). Plastic market, Medicine Market, Book Street and Khajoor Market are other popular sub-markets.
Street food at its best… The food is limited to desi street fare sold on open food carts; biryani, dal chawal, bun kebabs, chana chaat, haleem and samosas are popular. Top them off with a glass of fresh nimbo pani or coconut water. And when you are done, don’t forget to swing by Dilpasand Bakery which is only a short distance away for some takeaway gulab jamun, halwa or rabri.
In a nutshell… Boulton Market, with its crowded lanes, overflowing shops, awesome variety of products and competitive prices is one of Karachi’s most popular markets. Needless to say, the city would not be the same without Boulton Market. It is definitely worth a visit, especially these days when the weather is pleasant. But remember, beware of pickpockets and dress to blend in the crowd.
– Uzma Nawaz
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First published in the Real Estate Review Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 17, 2013.