Karachi Destination Guide
Though not frequently on the holiday itinerary for most Westerners, Karachi is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Pakistan. With 20 million residents, it has one of the largest city populations in the world. Primarily an economic hub for the country, Karachi is also considered the heart of Pakistan. Security is a factor to consider when travelling to this part of the world. Though it will be a culturally rich and educational experience, it is essential that travellers remain cautious and vigilant.
Considered a diamond in the rough, among the hustle and bustle of Karachi is one of the most popular, serene and sacred sites in the city. The mausoleum Mazar-E-Quaid is an impressive monument and tribute to the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader).
It is considered a mecca for all Pakistanis but also attracts many tourists. A large park surrounds the prominent structure, built with white marble and curved arches. Ceremonies are held here on Pakistan Day, Independence Day and the birth and death anniversaries of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister, whose tomb is also in the mausoleum.
Foreign dignitaries visiting Karachi often come to Mazar-E-Quaid to pay their respects. Tourists enjoy seeing the changing of the guard and visiting the adjacent museum.
Eat and Drink
Karachi cuisine (also known as Muhajir cusine) is largely the consequence of the city’s extensive Muhajir (Indian Muslim) population who migrated after Pakistan’s independence. This has resulted in a beautifully aromatic and spicy fusion of Indo-Arabic dishes, which are stronger in heat and flavour than other Pakistani dishes.
Common dishes on a Karachi dining table include vegetable and meat curry, dal, rice, kofta, kebab and naan bread. Lassi is a popular yoghurt drink in Pakistan that can be sweet or salty and enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Burns Road is renowned as the best place to savour the gastronomic delights Karachi has to offer.
Where to Stay
West Karachi is the ideal location to stay in as it is near the airport, the main shopping district and other facilities. One of the most popular accommodation choices is the Ramada Plaza Karachi Airport Hotel. If you were after an opulent stay a little further out, the exclusive South Karachi area has the Avari Towers Karachi in Saddar, which is considered a first-class option.
In the centre of Karachi’s main shopping strip, Tariq Road, Dolmen Mall Clifton is considered the biggest, best and most popular shopping centre in the city. The six-level complex is secure and has more than 300 shops, many with designer and international brands, a supermarket and a food court with international food chains, as well as activities and entertainment for children. Expect to pay for quality here – it is well worth it!
Karachi like a Local
Politically turbulent times have discouraged many locals from exploring much of their own city. However, there are other buildings associated with the Great Leader that are as important as the Mazar-E-Quaid but are given little recognition and receive few visitors.
It is worth exploring these places, such as the Wazir Mansion in Saddar, where Mohammad Ali Jinnah lived as a child, and the Flagstaff House, where he also once lived. A visit to these historical landmarks enables a greater understanding of the connection between the Great Leader and the Pakistani people.