Saddar, Karachi: History, Location and Features

saddar karachi

Saddar is one of Karachi’s oldest neighbourhoods that comprises bustling markets, century-old buildings and narrow, crowded streets. From electronic goods to antiques to groceries, shoppers can find everything at reasonable rates. 

The area’s significance can be traced back to the British colonial era, where Saddar was considered as the central business district of Karachi. After Pakistan’s independence, the area continued to serve as the hotspot for all local and foreign visitors. brings you a detailed account of Saddar’s history, location and unique features below. 


Saddar Then – A Thriving Community


night view of saddar marketi karachi


The number of structures in Saddar that were built in the Gothic Revival style is evidence of its historical significance. It has been a central area of Karachi since the British Empire, where all of the city’s major businesses, markets, churches, and educational institutions were situated.

Even after the partition, the buzzing town of Saddar, which is home to some of the most stunning designs of colonial-era architecture in the entire region, remained an important district till the late 1960s.

Almost all significant federal offices were located here. However, these went on to be replaced by those of the provincial administration when Islamabad was declared as the new capital in place of Karachi.


Saddar Now – A Historical Landmark

Over time, the worn-out red-brick structures have started to decay and crumble, while the outdated wooden homes have been replaced by contemporary-style apartments and shopping centres.

However, Saddar has still managed to retain its old charm and distinctiveness. It not only honours history but has also made space for modern architecture, creating a unique blend of the old and the new.

It was recently estimated that Saddar and its nearby areas have a total population of approximately 1 million, possibly even more.


Location of Saddar, Karachi

The town’s two most significant neighbourhoods, Kharadar and Mithadar, date back to pre-colonial times.

The names of these areas literally translate to “Salty Gate” and “Sweet Gate”, referring to the two main gates of Karachi’s Walled City. As indicated by their titles, one of the gates led to the Arabian Sea and the other to the Lyari River.

The affluent neighbourhoods of Clifton Cantonment and Jamshed Town are located to the east of Saddar, Karachi. Lyari Town is to its west, and Kimari, a beach town, is to its south. Additionally, the nearby Karachi City and Karachi Cantonment railway stations are both easily accessible as well.


Distinguishable Features of Saddar, Karachi

Since Saddar held prime importance for decades, many significant areas were developed nearby, which are there to this day.  Following are some of the important areas near Saddar. 


National Museum Pakistan


Front view of National museum of Pakistan in the day


The National Museum of Pakistan in the iconic Frere Hall opened its doors to the public in 1951. But, in 1969, the Pakistani government moved the museum to a different building at Burns Garden in Saddar.

Visitors can view many historical artefacts on display in the museum that date from prehistoric times all the way up to the independence of Pakistan.

The entry ticket just costs PKR 20. Student groups can visit the National Museum of Pakistan for free, while children under 10 only have to pay PKR 10 to enter. This museum is one of the top museums in Karachi.


Habib Bank Plaza


Picture of the majestic HBL Plaza in Karachi


For a long period of time, Habib Bank Plaza on I.I. Chundrigar Road was not just the tallest building in Pakistan but, in fact, in the whole of South Asia.  

This 22-storey architectural masterpiece, which houses the Habib Bank Limited headquarters, is still one of Karachi’s tallest skyscrapers.

Around 101 metres high, Habib Bank Plaza is one of the most well-known buildings in the ever-expanding City of Lights. This plaza’s construction began in 1963 and was completed nine years later, in 1972. It sits in the middle of Pakistan’s major financial district, also known as ‘Pakistan’s Wall Street’.


Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Monument to Christ the King, the beautiful St. Patrick Cathedral in Saddar Karachi


One of the most beautiful cathedrals in Pakistan is St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  With its red-brick structure, enormous stained glass windows, and magnificent Monument to Christ the King, the building serves as a beautiful attraction to the city. Additionally, it can accommodate approximately 2,000 worshippers at once.

Possibly one of the oldest churches in Sindh, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Saddar dates back to 1881. On those premises, a church was first constructed in 1845. 

The 170 feet-long cathedral, on the other hand, was built close to it as the local Catholic population grew. However, the church was destroyed during a storm in 1885.


Empress Market


Empress Market Karachi view in the Day


One of the most well-known places in Karachi, Empress Market in Saddar was named after the Empress of India, Queen Victoria. Its construction began in 1884 and was completed in 1889.

Today, hundreds of years later, Empress Market is still one of the most-visited markets in the city, which sells everything from fruits and meat to textile and crockery. Despite being located in a highly congested area, Empress Market remains extremely crowded throughout the week.


Merewether Clock Tower


Meredith tower in karachi


The Merewether Clock Tower, located on I.I. Chundrigar Road, was constructed in 1892. Sir Evan James, the Commissioner of Sindh at the time, ordered its construction as a tribute to his predecessor, Sir William L. Merewether. The tower is around 102 feet tall, and it contains four clocks on each side and a huge bell at the top. The intricate design was inspired from the Gothic Revival-style architecture.


Sindh High Court


Side view of Sindh High Court located in Saddar Karachi


The Sindh High Court building, the highest court in the province, was constructed in 1929. The original plan of the historic complex in Saddar Karachi’s centre had five judges and a single main building. But, as time went on, new structures were erected, and the complex today houses the offices of the following:

  • Attorney General
  • Deputy Attorney General
  • Advocate General Sindh
  • Secretary Ministry of Justice
  • Parliamentary Affairs
  • Registry of the Federal Sharia Court
  • Sindh Bar Council


Karachi Port Trust Building


Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Building , Karachi


Karachi Port Trust Building is one of the most important monuments in the city. The yellow-stone building is situated in the Kharadar neighbourhood of Saddar. It was built in 1915 by the architect G. Witted, who is also known for designing Mumbai’s Gateway of India.

The Karachi Port Trust now has its headquarters there.

The KPT building’s architecture appears to have been influenced by Gothic, British and Hindu, an amalgamation of all three of these styles. However, the huge dome at the top of the building is similar to the style of early Roman buildings. The building is entirely made of teak wood, a highly expensive building material.


Frere Hall


View of Frere Hall Karachi with a backdrop of cloudy blue sky


The well-known Frere Hall in Saddar, one of Karachi’s most recognisable colonial-era structures, is a representation of the city’s regal past. 

Originally, Frere Hall was intended to serve as Karachi’s town hall. However, it is currently a gallery as well as a library. Throughout the year, a number of festivities are organised in the enormous gardens surrounding the historic structure.

The magnificent Venetian-Gothic building, which was built between 1863 and 1865, was named after a British politician by the name of Sir Henry Bartle Frere. Frere Hall is a popular tourist destination in Karachi due to its exquisite interior.


Other Notable Landmarks Near Saddar, Karachi

Saddar’s proximity to key areas of the city also adds to its significance. Following are some of the most important areas nearby:

  • KMC Building
  • Old Radio Pakistan’s Building
  • Regional Passport Office
  • Pakistan Stock Exchange
  • Election Commission
  • Karachi Press Club
  • Wazir Mansion
  • The Provincial Assembly of Sindh
  • Arts Council of Pakistan
  • Sindh Club
  • Khaliqdina Hall & Library


Restaurants in Saddar Karachi

One of the most important food streets in Karachi, is Burns Road in Saddar. It is home to some of the city’s oldest eateries, which is why it is a great place for those who enjoy authentic Indian food.

Other popular restaurants in Saddar include Chaudhary Farzand Ali Kulfi, Sabir Nihari, Zahid Nihari, Peshawari Ice Cream, Baloch Ice Cream, Hijaz Dairy, Dilpasand Bakery, and Fresco Sweets, to name a few.

You can even find outlets of several major national and international fast food brands in Saddar.


Markets in Saddar, Karachi

There are a large number of markets in Saddar that are famous for items like clothing, antiques etc. Following is a list of the markets located near Saddar:

  • Bohri Bazaar
  • Zainab Market
  • Jodia Bazar
  • Saddar Electronic Market
  • Cooperative Market
  • Gul Plaza


Bohri Bazaar

Founded years before Pakistan’s independence, Bohri Bazaar is one of the oldest and biggest bazaars in Karachi. Some of the businesses in the enormous Bohri Bazaar are almost a century old. This market offers everything, from clothing and kitchenware to hardware and wooden items.


Zainab Market

Saddar is also home to Zainab Market, one of Karachi’s most renowned retail districts. Zainab Market is the hub of a variety of retail malls and offers a great range of export-quality leather items, denim, handicrafts, and antiques.


Jodia Bazar

Jodia Bazar is one of the country’s oldest wholesale markets, dating back to the pre-partition era.


Saddar Electronic Market

From phones and computers to TVs and vacuum cleaners, Saddar Electronic Market offers a range of electronics. Regal Chowk and Abdullah Haroon Road in Saddar are home to the city’s busiest electronic markets.


Cooperative Market

The Cooperative Market in Saddar is conceivably the greatest place in Karachi to purchase wooden and copper handicrafts, as well as unique vintage items.


Gul Plaza

For unique and affordable home décor goods, Gul Plaza in Saddar is a famous location to pay a visit to.


Top Schools in Saddar, Karachi

Some of Karachi’s most well-established schools are located in Saddar.

  • St. Joseph’s Convent School
  • St. Patrick’s High School
  • The Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary School
  • Bai Virbaiji Soparivala Parsi High School
  • Karachi Grammar School

These institutions offer both matriculation and O/A-level education as well as provide excellent educational standards.

Saddar is also home to some of the most prestigious government, semi-private, and private colleges and universities in Karachi, including Government College of Commerce and Economics, Sindh Muslim Law College, D. J. Sindh Government Science College, and St. Joseph’s College for Women.


Why You Should Invest in Saddar, Karachi


Empress Market , Karachi in Saddar


Saddar Town, the centre of the city’s economy, is a highly coveted location for investors in Karachi.

There are many well-developed apartment complexes if you are looking to buy a flat here. In Saddar, a 2-bed apartment typically costs between PKR 25 lakh and PKR 1.6 crore, whereas the cost of a 3-bedroom apartment ranges from PKR 30 lakh to PKR 1.9 crore.

Of course, the real estate project in question, infrastructure, amenities, specific location, and proximity to surrounding commercial areas all have a significant impact on these prices.

The surrounding areas of Saddar and Jodia Bazar tend to be the most popular places to buy commercial properties, if you’re looking for shops for sale in Saddar Karachi.

Saddar’s distinctive features make it an excellent residential and commercial area. For more informative blogs, visit Graana Blog.

About Hareem Qamar

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