Pakistan Maritime Museum — Karachi
Columnist Col (Retd) EAS BOKHARI visits a naval museum.
was in Karachi last month in connection with a Media Workshop arranged by
the Pakistan Navy and had the opportunity of visiting the Pakistan
Maritime Archives. I was much impressed by its layout and the contents. It
was indeed interesting to see the historical exhibits and other items.
museum is housed in an elegant building and is based on modern concepts of
presentation and interaction. It was a treat to be there and if you happen
to be in Karachi next time do go there. It is an education. In some cases
here realtime operations can be experienced by the visitors which is very
enjoyable and yet instructive.
example it is possible for a visitor to board a ‘real’ mine sweeper
and see its exclusive equipment and operational devices used for
destroying and demining underwater mines. It is all full of thrills for
the uninitiated. Visitors could also operate the gun mountings of naval
guns, board a submarine and peep through its periscope and even climb the
replica of a lighthouse.
is “an abundance of maritime and naval heritage which has been
incorporated through attractive dioramas, relief sculptures, mural and
miniature paintings, touch screen computers, taxidermy and vintage
equipment”. There are six main galleries of the museum, which are:
centre piece of the Maritime History Gallery is the metallic armour which
was found off the coast of Ormara during recent dredging operations. It
dates back to the 8th Century when Muhammed Bin Qasim’s forces passed
through this desolate region. This gallery also exhibits Mohenjodaro’s
riverine trade, Ancient Trade routes, mural paintings of Bin Qasim’s
Attack on Deybal, early Muslim Navigational instruments, maps and
Naval Gallery is a fine projection of the Pakistan Navy’s operational
achievements during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. A large stone finished
relief mural depicts the return of triumphant fleet after a relentless and
devastating bombardment of the Indian coast at Dwarka. It is a journey
through the naval past besides multitude of vintage naval equipment. Two
computers with CD-ROMs facilities have been provided for access to
worldwide naval information here.
and Harbours Gallery is a comprehensive representation of Pakistan’s
harbours through expressive exhibits and paintings. The Karachi harbour
has been depicted in a large diorama giving the viewers an opportunity to
relish a bird’s eye view of the channels, its surrounding habitat, and
the rare mangroves. Extremely articulate sculptures representing the
Traders of the East, a Ropery and the unique vintage lantern are the other
main exhibits here. Yet another noteworthy display is the painting of the
Manora’s Fort Qasim.
Marine Life Gallery has been set up in the second floor and is fairly
large one. It provides the visitors a clear perception of the variations
of coral and marine life from the sea surface to the continental shelf
down to the deep sea. It is most exotic and educative experience for the
paintings are the work of a number of masters of national and
international fame. Just to name a few virtuosos like Zahoor-Ul-Akhlaque,
Masood Kohari, Shahid Sajjad, Noor Jahan Bilgrami, Khalil Chishti, Ruby,
Masood Akhter, Ather Jamal and Shoab have all rendered lasting expressions
which are housed here. The themes are topical such as regional maritime
heritage, tributes to Naval Shuhadas, Pakistan Navy’s Deeds of Glory,
eloquent naval episodes and evolution of Pakistan Navy. “National
College of Arts and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture have also
been associated to give the museum an authentic, aesthetic and modern
could see the uniforms of the Naval Chiefs kept in the almirahs and in
some cases they needed a little more effort for preservation and upkeep.
With the climate of Karachi being what it is, a concerted effort is needed
in the preservation of papers and uniforms.
had been to New Delhi a decade back and there I had an opportunity of
looking into the Indian National Archives and was much impressed to see a
foolproof method of preservation. Special sprays were used and some of the
oldest documents/other items looked new and original. There I saw the
first copy of the Indian Constitution, the bugle that was blown over the
Red Fort on the Indian Independence Day and even a manuscript of Abul
Kalam Azad’s ‘Ghubar-i-Khatir.’ All these were in immaculate
is yet another breath taking mammoth Balaenoptera whale skeleton which has
been suspended from the ceiling in vicinity of the Marine Life Gallery.
The whale had been washed up on the shores of Karachi more than a decade
ago and was retrieved by local fishermen. The whale is about 45 feet in
length and is occasionally found in tropical waters.
make the place more visitor friendly the Museum has a souvenir shop well
stocked with miniature marine artifacts which are sold at nominal prices,
and a Museum Cafe. And on the whole I thought that the PN has done well on
this count, and it is a real education to be there even for a short while.