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DJ Science College was built in the Italian Renaissance style and completed in 1893 (Photos: Tahir Jamal/White Star)

DJ Science College was built in the Italian Renaissance style and completed in 1893 (Photos: Tahir Jamal/White Star)

With Holi, the Hindu festival of spring, being celebrated on March 27, it is appropriate to pay homage to the DJ Science College, which is named after Diwan Deyawan Jethmal, a prominent Hindu philanthropist of his time.

From arts to science… The DJ Science College was established as the Sind Arts College. Its campus was initially located on MA Jinnah Road, and was opened on January 17, 1887 by Lord Reay, the Governor of Bombay. The college had been funded by a several prominent Hindus including Jethmal, and after he passed away, it was renamed after him.

Today, it is called the DJ Government Science College and is housed in a magnificent building located on Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road.

A magnificent building… The building’s foundation stone was laid by Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy of India, on November 19, 1887 and completed on October 15, 1893. Designed by James Strachan, the municipal engineer, this yellow sandstone building is built in the Italian Renaissance style, with a portico, a stone tower which rises to a height of 121 feet, topped by a dome, and crowned with a lantern; the tower is flanked by two equally impressive but smaller domes. At the time of construction, the building’s mosaic tiles were imported from Belgium, and the cast iron handrail used for the staircase was brought in from Glasgow, Scotland.

Past to present… Since its inception, the College has educated generations of Pakistanis. Notable alumni include Ardeshir Cowasjee, Dr Adeeb ul Hassan Rizvi, and Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the College. While restoration work has been in progress for several years, the building is no longer as breathtaking as it used to be; professors complain about the lack of facilities, but despite it all, the College continues to function, educating a three to four thousand strong student body.

Pakistan Chowk features a host of eateries (Photos: Tahir Jamal/White Star)

Pakistan Chowk features a host of eateries (Photos: Tahir Jamal/White Star)

Beyond the college… Near the College is the famed Pakistan Chowk, that bastion of wedding card printers. A host of eateries (including those selling crunchy chaat, plump kachoris and gol guppas, and staples biryani and bun kababs) are located in the narrow lanes near the Chowk. A variety of small shops selling everything from shoes to stationery are located there as well.

In a nutshell… Despite the fact that the DJ Science College building is in need of renovation, it remains of the most impressive and eye-catching colonial buildings in Karachi.

– Mamun M Adil

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 24, 2013.

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