Muslims in India had a great contribution in literature and art, there are also some architecture wonders made by pre-partition Muslims in India. The very term Anglo Moghul is a school of architectural design which mixed the Muslim and English Gothic architecture.
Here is an article published in daily Dawn written by Peerzada Salman. Article is about the KCCI building which is a well kept remarkable piece of architecture that is still well used with few ugly additions like air-conditioned registration office etc.
The one name from the pre partition Muslims that springs to mind, and makes you feel good, is that of Ahmed Hussain Agha. Mr Agha designed masterpieces we know as the Mohatta Palace, the Hindu Gymkhana and the Karachi Chamber of Commerce building.
If you look at Mr Agha?s creative endeavours you?d notice, as experts suggest, a Mughalrevivalist trend. The architect was different in the sense that in the latter half of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century such geniuses as James Stratchan and Moses Somake were employing other blueprints (IndoGothic, Renaissance, etc) to impart a distinctive touch to Karachi?s cityscape, but Mr Agha opted for a different approach to construction, also enriching the city?s uniqueness.
There must?ve been a reason for using the Mughal expression. It is said that Ahmed Hussain Agha was fond of the style of the English architect and engineer Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, who in 1867 became chief engineer of the Jaipur state. Incidentally, Mr Agha?s first job was in the same city. Sir Samuel was the designer of breathtaking structures such as the Albert Hall Museum, the Rambagh Palace (Jaipur) and the King George Medical College (Lucknow).
In 1860, when Karachi began to burgeon into a commercially important town, the seeds of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce were sown with heavy European influence. It took quite some time before the Indian Merchants Association came into being, a trade body of local businessmen. And on July 8, 1934 the foundation stone of the Indian Merchants Association building was laid by none other than M.K. Gandhi, and Ahmed Hussain Agha was entrusted with the job to design it.
Gandhi visited Karachi on a few occasions. His visit in 1934 was particularly noteworthy, because during the trip not only did he inaugurate an important work of stonemasonry but also spoke to the Karachi press.
Today the Indian Merchants Association is known as the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The structure, over a period of time, has undergone many a change. Though the front elevation or the fa?ade is in original shape (needs a bit of a cleaning up), its interior, for the most part, is not what it used to be in the olden days.
Shafique Baig, who works for the PR department at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, says, ?There are very few things that haven?t changed. One is the staircase; the wood used in it is unharmed, so too the banister. Some of the rooms on the ground and first floors are the same. And yes, there?s an arch where the shops are set up; in the past people would sit in its shade and indulge in casual chitchat.The rest of the inside of the building has been changed, modified with the passage of time.
?Actually it was in 1958 during Ayub Khan?s rule that things began to alter. When Gen Zia was at the helm, we wanted certain things to improve, but the then government said we should make a hospital first, which we tried to construct in the north Karachi area.? ?We do undertake repair work from time to time. For example, a couple of years back one of the cupolas on the roof got damaged; we repaired it as soon as it was possible for us,? says Mr Baig.
Architect Yasmeen Lari says, ?The Karachi Chamber of Commerce building is an Anglo-Mughal piece of architecture, a style that came in vogue in the 1920s in Karachi. Although the fad had flourished in other parts of the subcontinent, Karachi received it late. Some of the buildings made in the similar style ? the Mohatta Palace, the Hindu Gymkhana, the Karachi Municipality building ? are extraordinary.
?It?s unfortunate that later interventions have marred the Chamber?s originality and certain inappropriate additions are not compatible with its real character. We hope that the chamber will act and try and make the structure in conformity with what it looked like at the time of its inception.? ?The good thing is that Mahatma Gandhi?s name is still there on the commemorative plaque. You can?t deface history or wipe out the contri butions of important people to the making of such historic edifices. The other day I was at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Someone told me that quite a few great political figures had been to the hospital to undergo treatment, but there?s not much to suggest that historic fact,? says Ms Lari.
If you get to the rooftop of any of the buildings on Aiwani-Tijarat Road, you?ll get a panoramic view of the Saddar region, if not the whole of the city. The constructions on all four sides look like a zigzagging worm on an electrocardiogram of a patient with an irregular heartbeat. From one corner, the beautiful Sindh Madressahtul Islam in the foreground is dwarfed by skykissing concrete giants in the background. It?s a picture Ahmed Hussain Agha wouldn?t have liked