The Empress Market Karachi, located in the heart of Saddar area of karachi city, is a historical building that was neat and clean once as no local people were allowed to enter the market. Victoria Bughi (carriage) run on the streets surrounding the Empress Market, which used to carry high ups of British rulers at night. This whole area used to be quite clear.
Before independence, 90% of the population in saddar area of karachi city and its associated areas was non-Muslims. That’s why you will also see the Parsi community’s sacred place ‘Dar Mehir’, churches of Catholic Christians and schools, parks and dispensaries built by the Persians around the Empress market.
Only few people would know that the aim of the construction of the Empress market was not to provide people with the convenience of buying and selling. Historians say the construction of the building also relates to the war of Independence of 1857. The fact is that in 1857, the 21st Regiment troops of Karachi-based British army led a plan under the leadership of freedom fighter Ramdin Panday, according to which the Regiment troops had to revolt against the British rulers and kill them in order to declare freedom. However, some of the messengers belonging to the 21st Regiment informed the British government about the plan, after which the British army arrested Ramdin Panday and his colleagues.
On the middle of the 13 and 14 September 1857, the British army hanged Panday’s 11 colleagues in the square where the Empress Market would be built, while Panday was also executed in the same place after being tied to a canon along with four of his accomplices. Later, the pieces of their bodies were thrown into a pit. After the incident, local people used to come here in the night’s historical and laid floral wreaths. The British government started getting worried of the situation and feared the place could turn into martyrs’ memorial. The Empress Market was built just to ensure that the people visiting the place do not pay homage to the martyred soldiers.
In 1839, the Empress Market was called Camp Bazaar. Engineer Mr. James Strachen made the map of the market. On 10 November 1884, the building was founded by Governor Bombay Sir James Ferguson. Jodhpuri Red Stone has been used in the construction of this building. The approximate amount to build this building is said to be more than 1.5 million rupees. The then Commissioner in Sindh inaugurated the building on March 21, 1889, and as the Silver Jubilee of Queen Victoria was being celebrated that year, the building was named Empress Market.
The tower of the Empress Market Karachi is 140 feet high. There are 4 galleries in the market, its internal passage is 130 feet long and 100 feet wide. The tower had a large clock mounted, that was used by locals to determine the time.
All the extensions around the Empress Market have been terminated. The Sindh Government has made a park at that place now. Famous Jahangir Park on the backside of the Empress Market was also turned into a beautiful attraction after renovation. However, there are still many historical places near the market which have either been replaced by residential plazas or their names have been changed.