Agyari, biryani, capital city, chicken yakhni, clock tower, Dr Daud Pota Road, Edulji Dinshaw, Edulji Dinshaw Dispensary, faravahar, Fire Temple, free medical facilities, fresh fruit, haleem, heart of Karachi, Italianate style, Karachi, Karachiites, Lahore Resolution, Mamun M Adil, minority rights, Nauroz, Pakistan, Pakistan Day, Parsi Dar-e-Meher, Parsi New Year, Parsi philanthropist, Peshawari Ice Cream, Preedy Street, Press Market, Saddar, Saleem sahib, Tit Bit Book Stall, winged figure, Zoroastrianism
With Nauroz (the Parsi New Year) and Pakistan Day celebrated next week on March 21 and 23 respectively, it is the ideal time to explore Dr Daud Pota Road and Preedy Street: two streets of Saddar, the heart of Karachi – the capital city of the new born state of Pakistan.
The dazzling Fire Temple… The Parsi Dar-e-Meher or Agyari (Fire Temple) is located on Dr Daud Pota Road and was constructed in 1948.
Today, the building stands out amidst its dilapidated surroundings, shining bright in the spring sunshine, adorned with engravings of the faravahar (a winged figure that represents Zoroastrianism). Although the temple is the venue where Parsis from across the city congregate to pray daily, it is most frequented on Nauroz.
A bookish detour… On the same road as the Fire Temple is the famed Tit Bit Book Stall, frequented by generations of Karachiites. The owner, Saleem sahib, will proudly tell you that it was established in 1944, as he fishes out the publication of your choice from the quaint bookshop’s dusty corners.
In memory of a great Parsi philanthropist… A few streets along, on Preedy Street is the Edulji Dinshaw Dispensary, which was opened on March 21, 1882 on Nauroze; it was one of the first buildings in Karachi to be designed in the Italianate style, and is crowned with a clock tower. The Dispensary was built with the objective of providing the people of Karachi free medical facilities; its construction costs were Rs 5,000 and were borne by Edulji Dinshaw, a Parsi philanthropist and landowner. The dispensary continues to provide medical services – for five rupees per consultation.
Odds and ends… Right behind the Dispensary is the ‘Press Market’ – where one can find an assortment of odds and ends including “do number ke jootey”, shawls and used electronic appliances – and of course, a myriad of foodie options, including biryani, chicken yakhni, fresh fruit, haleem and juices, as well as ice-cream and falooda at the oldest branch of Peshawari Ice Cream.
In a nutshell… These two streets of Saddar exemplify an excerpt from the Lahore Resolution (which was officially adapted on Pakistan Day) that advocates the rights of minorities, as it is there where the skyline can boast of steeples and minarets, and where mosques, churches and temples continue to stand proud, in proximity to each other.
– Mamun M Adil
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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on MArch 17, 2013.