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Bristol Hotel, Karachi

If you are a first time visitor to the Bristol, what will instantly strike you is the palatial size of the edifice. It is no longer a hotel. Has not been used so for the last 15 or 20 years. There is a chance that while paying a visit to its dining room you might trip over a cable wire or stumble into an HMI light, because television crews find this place fitting to shoot their soap operas and period dramas. And the activity is confined to the ground and first floors; the second and third storeys are not in use. The reason for the spaciousness of the structure is, or could be, that it was originally constructed in 1907 (some say 1910) as a mansion for a well to do Parsi by the name of Dossabhai Byramji Minwalla. It was the first three storey structure of the vicinity.

An account suggests it was built as part of the quartet of railway hotels to provide accommodation to those arriving in Karachi by train. The other three accommodations were the North Western, Carlton and Killarney hotels.

According to an old man, Shahbaz, who works at the hotel and is not always keen on getting the building photographed, Quaid i Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had graced the building on at least one occasion. He even dined here. Back then the facility was known for its sumptuous cuisine, which is difficult to dispute.

At present Bristol Hotel is not in a shape that should call for urgent measures, but it definitely needs to be looked after in a skilled manner.

In 1937, Leon Trotsky was accused of hatching a plot against Stalin at the Bristol in Copenhagen. But then they found out that at the time when they thought the conspiracy was being made, the hotel was there only as a fond memory, because in the second decade of the 20th century it had been razed to the ground, and was rebuilt in 1936.

[Source: Karachi Legacies of Empires by Peerzada Salman]



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