Why doesn’t anyone visit the Frere Hall anymore?

It had been years since I had last seen the interior of Frere Hall. A few days ago I decided to go visit the old place and see if it had changed substantially. With a friend in tow I went there only to find the security guard there shocked beyond belief to have a visitor in the middle of the afternoon. He repeatedly asked us if we had some specific purpose.

http://karachi.metblogs.com/archives/images/2007/01/KarachiFrereHall1-thumb.jpg

He seemed like a nice fellow so we asked him why he was so surprised and inquisitive. He lamented ruefully telling us how nobody visited this place and how dilapidated it had become because of severe neglect. He also told us that after the bomb blast near Marriot recently the local government has banned parking inside so if anyone wants to visit he/she has to go out of his/her way to park at Marriot across the road or at the ABN Amro parking lot a few hundred yards away. Needless to say, it saddened me to see such a beautiful work of art, of such great historical value, becoming a victim of the modern age. Do visit someday. If nothing else you’ll be awe-struck by the beautiful art work on the ceiling by Sadequain.

View image

16 Comments so far

  1. KA (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

    I’ll go check it out this time around, looks nice…I had no idea about this place…thx…


  2. shaDy (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

    i must’ve gone there about a year ago, last winter, and the guard:

    a) didn’t let me park my car anywhere in sight.
    b) told me that i couldn’t take any pictures.
    c) acted like a dhakan (biscuit jar lid) when i asked him wtf i couldn’t do either… i just wanted some far away snapshots of the building because the sun + sky was perfect…

    so i left, deeply saddened by the state of our city.

    that area has some amazing buildings in general, like Hotel Bristol and a few other very old structures.

    nobody gives a f**k about any of them though, so i’m sure they’ll cease to exist soon and will be replaced by shiny new apartment complexes, probably with names like “Shaheen Complex A” or some other crap.

    it may also be worth ranting about the state of your average karachi house. where the hell has our architecture gone to? it’s like every aunty with a couple of extra lakhs decides to buy some land and erect these disgustingly ugly cookie cutter houses in hideously pastel colours with no asthetic appeal or pakistani culture imbued in them. it’s all cheap painted golden gate knobs and ugly clashing colours.

    we’ve become a city of ugliness and not many people seem to notice much or care enough to want to make a difference, so i’m not suprised that a building as beautiful and majestic as frere hall goes completely unnoticed.


  3. GI Joe (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 11:09 pm

    Its all because of those bloody Americans and their ‘security’.


  4. ash (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 3:47 am

    over the last three years i have tried in vain to visit frere hall and mohatta palace at least 5 times a piece but somehow they are always ‘closed” for some reason or the other. Must just be my luck, I also couldn’t get into to the louvre last time i visited thanks to “renovations” i must be on some sort of cultural hit list.


  5. wasiq (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 5:50 am

    @SHADY….WE had Bona vista mutliDelux in mind but shaheen complex A will also do….lol

    @Bayl….how long will it take for you to settle down here at KMB….it is quite irritating to see your title change every day….welcome to KMB


  6. mansoor (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 11:10 am

    hopefully, in a couple of years, frere hall would again be visitable, what with the american ‘complex’ moving from there..

    good review bayl!


  7. Moiz Kazmi (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

    i went thr almost 6 yrs back…whn i was in 9th or 8th grade !! the place was amazing….the entrance was a bit haunting…but the interior was amazing !!!!! i even asked my mother…can this place be our house ?? :$ :D


  8. sadia (unregistered) on January 7th, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

    I used to go to Frere Hall a lot before when my dad was a member of the photography club (i forget its name)… they used to have exhibitions there I think. I remember because once my dad’s photgraphs were displayed in the gallery.

    Its a beautiful building really. And its even sadder that they don’t have the book bazar there anymore… I used to love going there.


  9. redsnapper (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

    I recently shifted to one of the apartment blocks near Frere Hall. Needless to say, the prospect of early morning/evening walk in the lawns with the splendour of the building in the backdrop was very exciting.

    Ok, here’s the turn-off. Not only can you NOT take pictures, you’re not even allowed to stay in the park. The police walla was very polite and “graciously offered” to allow me to walk one full round before leaving and never to return !!

    Not sure if all of you know but the last mural that the great Sadequain painted was on the roof at Frere Hall. It was converted into Gallerie Sadequain later in his memory. Sadequain’s classic pieces of art were later taken down to make space for art exhibitions but the mural was there. The half-complete work is a reminder of the greatest artist of this region (not to mention, one of the greatest of 20th century) but its hidden away behind a closed door.

    A year or so ago, the Americans had shown interest in Baba island off Keamari boat basin to have their residence and consulate. The fishermen communities were asked to empty the island but that has thankfully stopped.

    However, blocking this entire block around Frere Hall is a shame and no solution is in sight.

    Also, I believe the old British Council building on Bleak House Road is no more. I will have to check again on this and I hope I am wrong.

    Cheers !!


  10. Raheel (unregistered) on January 14th, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

    are we allowed to photograph there?


  11. wasiq (unregistered) on January 15th, 2007 @ 3:19 am

    @Reddnipper……thanks for the good tidings……the bitch is doing a roaring business without that old piece of s***

    http://www.pakistanlink.com/Headlines/June06/17/12.htm

    http://epaper.dawn.com/artMailDisp.aspx?article=14_01_2007_118_010&typ=0


  12. wasiq (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 12:27 am
  13. wasiq (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 12:35 am

    Hi there….this link to the same page is giving me an unedited version….is it just my browser or does anyone else can also see it….please let me know before they re-edit the latest page…hurry.


  14. wasiq (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 3:29 am

    official statement: suppose there is no electric loadshedding this summer then i will have nothing much to do all day and i could be easily compelled to join the winning team of KMB then what….the idiots from all over the world would be blasting my delicately laid out posts…or spamming with unrelated comments…which i may or may not enjoy but then i would have no power to edit moderate or delete just because….no no i don’t want that…i want more power for the authors…and less interference from blog owners…also i want the author to have the final comment (vote of thanks ya khul kay galian) before it is closed.

    all those in favor say…Aye!
    all against go high….take a hike!


  15. bayl (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

    Wasiq, do you honestly have nothing better to do?


  16. wasiq (unregistered) on January 18th, 2007 @ 4:23 am

    Bayl…..thanks for this post it was really very nice and helpful.



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