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HONEYMOON LODGE

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

Muhammadi Tekri or Tekri (hill), a famous historical site, where Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah was born, which is generally known as Honeymoon Lodge. It is situated on the eastern outskirts of the city of Karachi at plot no. F.T.N. 3/1. It is an old fashioned, but spacious house, perilously perched on the top of the hillock at Korangi Road in the Defence Housing Society area, Karachi. This building was built soon after the British occupation of Sind in 1840. It was made available to the high government officials for their residence, known as Honeymoon Hall in 1841.

This property was purchased by the British Government in 1859 on account and expense of the Kolahpur State, as a residence for Cheema Saheb, the ex-ruler of the Kolahpur, a city and district of Maharashtra state, India, which was occupied by the British in 1792. Later, the vendor of this property was Mr. Edwin Bray, a contractor, who in 1860 obtained a lease of the site, and named it, Bray Cliff Honeymoon Lodge. The purchaser on this account was a certain Mr. Noonan, who afterwards sold it ultimately to Imam Hasan Ali Shah.

Varas Basaria Fadhu (1848-1918) is reported to have built a residence of Imam Hasan Ali Shah in Honeymoon Lodge soon after its registration on January 5, 1876. No water supply existed in the location, therefore, it was procured in the town. Ismail, the maternal grandfather of Bana Bhula Ali used to bring two skin bags of water on donkey. Later on, the Ismaili women from Garden area daily brought water with Ladak Damani (d. 1944).

When Imam Aga Ali Shah inherited its ownership, he used it as his residence. Later on, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah was born to Lady Aly Shah here on Friday, November 2, 1877 at 5.30 p.m. in the right corner room facing the east side. When the family of the Imam shifted from Karachi to Bombay in 1882, this place was turned into the royal guest house for their occasional visits to Karachi between 1895 and 1951.

Honeymoon Lodge is spread over a contour area of 18.5 acres on a hilltop at a height of 111' from the road level. There is an unmetalled road leading to the summit of the hill. There is also another small hilltop at the height of 94'. On the summit of this hill there was an octagonal wooden umbrella, a flight of stairs leading to the top, where one can get a panoramic view of the city. The principal hilltop covers an area of 788.62 square yards, the servant quarters and the chowkidar quarters, including the main building covers an area of 1066.85 square yards. The main building is so oriented that it faces the south west direction, allowing the sea breeze to cool the interior without any artificial mechanical cooling system. There are over 2500 tress already planted, covering the hilly terrain create a relaxing atmosphere. Strips of lawns have also been developed at the entrance on the hilltop near the main building. Accessible records have it that this building has undergone structural changes over a period of years. The first changes were effected in 1905 when the entire edifice was demolished except one room, which was kept intact, where Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah was born. This time the building was rebuilt in a colonial style with a gabled roof.

In 1920, Wazir Rahim Basaria (1885-1927) renovated it with his own expenses of Rs. 50,000/- Its new furniture was prepared in Calcutta by Bana Bula and Suleman Mukhi Ghulam Hussain Parpiya of Calcutta. The Imam took its visit on April 10, 1920 and gave it a new name as Highland. Whenever Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah visited Karachi, the site was to be renovated simply for the purpose of Imam's lodging during next 30 years (1920- 1950).

In 1951, the Imam entrusted Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodboy (1905-1956) to convert the Honeymoon Lodge into the Convalescent Home. This time, the building underwent further physical changes. The gabled roof was replaced by a R.C.C. slab, retaining the load bearing stone walls. On its rear side, rooms were added including two kitchens, bathrooms and extension of the veranda. A porch was added on the front side. These changes were done to facilitate the conversion of this place from a residence to a Convalescent Home. Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad operated its supervision on behalf of the Aga Khan Health Board.

The Imam is reported to have told to Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad to give it a new name of "Mahdi Convalescent Home" in loving memory of the meritorious services of Mukhi Mahdi, the son of Hasan Ali Laljibhai Devraj of Bombay.

The Imam gave an audience to the donors at the bungalow of Wazir Ibrahim Manji on January 26, 1952 and blessed, emphasizing to complete the project before the occasion of Platinum Jubilee. The project of Mahdi Convalescent Home at length completed and inaugurated on September 14, 1953 by Muhammad Ali Bogra, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. In his welcome address, Wazir Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy said, "This Convalescent Home is an additional gift of the Aga Khan, which provides the recovery and energy to the patients of old diseases or who have undergone major operations, an important location far from the dense population of the city."

According to the old records of its ownership deed with the District Commissioner (inquiry register no. 375), the official name of Honeymoon Lodge from Honeymoon Hall was changed in 1951, covering an area of 86495 square yards. Prince Sadruddin inherited the property under Register Gift Deed No. 66 on July 21, 1951. It was subsequently purchased by the Present Imam from him on June 26, 1968 under Registered Sale Deed No. 655.

The Present Imam summoned a grand darbar in Gymkhana, Karachi on December 13, 1964 and celebrated his 28th birth anniversary with the followers. On that occasion, Wazir Amir Ali Fancy (1914-1978), the President of the Federal Council for Pakistan, humbly requested the Imam that the jamats of Pakistan wished to build a house for their Imam at Honeymoon Lodge. The Imam was delighted and accepted the offer. When the Imam made his farman on that occasion, he said, "I was most deeply happy to know that the jamat of Pakistan has made it possible for me to have a house on the site where my grandfather was born. I am deeply attached with the site and I look forward very much indeed to live in there and to spending many happy, deeply happy days, of my life in a new house there. I would like my jamats to know that this is a matter of my heart. It has nothing to do with the fact that I will have a house, it has to do with the fact that my love and affection for jamats is also reflected with the love which I had for my father and grandfather."

The Imam made a visit of the Mahdi Convalescent Home on November 11, 1967 with his architects and Wazir Dr. Habib Patel, the Chairman of the Aga Khan Central Health Board for Pakistan. The Imam made an inspection and climbed upto the roof of the main premises and observed its vicinity. After making a discussion with the architects, the Imam told to Dr. Habib Patel to vacate it within two months and if possible by one month. The Imam also directed to the Chairman to take a bungalow on hire. The patients were shifted in a bungalow at Mohammad Ali Housing Society, near Karsaz, Drigh Road Bridge, Karachi. The evacuation took place at the end of May, 1970. It means that the Mahdi Convalescent Home was closed down and it remained in a dilapidated condition. Interface cracks are noticed partly due to a bomb blast during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, resulting also dislocation and detachment of window frames from the masonry.

During the historical Birth Centenary of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah on November 2, 1977, the site was illuminated, decorated and opened for the Ismaili visitors.

Soon after the Imam's visit in 1994 to Pakistan, the site was purged with filth, animal's bones, etc. at the feet of the hills. Cracks were cemented and repaired. Rooms were plastered and colored. Gardens were grown with new plantation.

On October 27, 2000, the Imam visited the site during his visit in Pakistan.

Since it has been extensively rebuilt and renovated it has almost lost its original character. It is very important to modernize the city, but care should be taken that such a transformation does not destroy the city's heritage.

HORSE RACING [ see SIBAK AL-KHAYL ]


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