One thing that differs a local resident from a foreigner is the desire to explore. And this usually implies to everyone. When I go to a new city, I just want to explore, but Karachi is my home and it’s my comfort. Yes, I do want to check out every new mall and restaurant but there is no urgency, as I can go whenever I want. (But this hardly happens, unless you have friends and family visiting from abroad)
The same happened with Super Savari Express. One year back my eldest sis sent me a link of Super Savari Express. “Look they now have a tour bus for Karachi too, we must try it out.” She told me excitedly.
My first impression “Yeah it looks really nice and exciting, Ok we’ll plan something.”
Later, I forgot all about it and everything was back to routine. Living in Karachi makes you pretty consumed with the daily routine. One hardly finds time to actually plan a “City Tour”. And as they mock about us “Hum to weekend par nani ke ghar jatay hain“ So it is the case with my family 🙂
Then it was this year in January, that my other sister’s family was coming to Karachi from Australia. My 17-year-old niece was very much into this Super Savari Express. I thought, “Why not, let’s do it then!”
So I got the contact info from their facebook page and learned that they have different tour packages. Except, the Sunday tour all other tours are private tours and you have to pay for the entire bus.
Then there is the most common city tour and there is also a food tour which is usually at night.
We opted for the most convenient Sunday City tour package. Ticket cost per adult is Rs.2500, and children under 3 travel for free.
You can purchase tickets from Hoagies restaurant in Khayabane Shahbaz DHA or from their main head office in Saddar. All payments have to be done before the tour.
Every Sunday morning this tour starts at 8 am and ends at 1:00 pm.
We were a group of 6 adults and two kids, one 7 and the other 3 years old.
1.Keep water bottles.
2.Some light snacks ( Very important) Although breakfast is included in the package it’s not served right away. It can take an hour or so till you reach the breakfast destination and since the tour starts early it’s important you keep something for munching especially with kids.
3.Wear very comfortable clothes and especially very comfortable shoes. There is a good amount of walking on the tour.
4.Always remember to put on sunblock and wear your sunnies.
5.For women, its recommended to carry a dupatta or scarf since this extra piece of clothing at times proves to be very helpful in certain areas of Karachi.
6.Hand sanitizers and Wipes.
7.Keep some cash in case you fall for some unique spices in Empress market.
We reached Super Savari Express main head office around 7:55 just to be right on time. When I first climbed up the stairs, I was quite fascinated by the antique, very Saddarish look of the building. Modern architecture doesn’t really have a soul and its only in Saddar one can experience what the magnitude of Karachi’s architecture was once.
Walking towards the waiting room/office I thought Gosh! maybe we are the only ones. But when we walked into this cute little office with the typical display of truck art everywhere I saw many excited tourists already waiting in line. Most of them were foreigners and NRPs (Nonresident Pakistanis) and pure local Karachiites like me, my hubby and kids were very few.
But as I believe in going with the flow, I thought to myself OK today I will be a stranger to Karachi and I will allow Super Savari Express to introduce Karachi to me.
Although the tour was supposed to begin at 8:00 am sharp we didn’t leave the office until 8:45.
Super Savari Express Bus
The stellar part of Savari Express was the tour bus, the actual, original, traditional, desi bus. Decorated with truck art and with seats barely big enough for a comfortable seating.
To be honest I love these buses! Throughout my college and university days, I traveled in these buses. I enjoyed standing near the door and chit chatting with all my girlfriends and consuming the air pollution and petrol smell all at once. Ahh, the good old days!
But this time the experience was, even more, fun because now I got to sit on this bus with my two little boys who also found the bus the best part of the tour. My 3-year-old yelled with excitement when he saw the bus.
Since this time there was no separate section for ladies and gents section, we sat at the back.
And yes the driver and conductor were also very typically dressed in shalwar kameez and Sindhi topi which I found to be very cute.
Karachi Freemasons Lodge
The engine started, Bollywood music in full volume and off we went, our first stop was Karachi’s, Freemasons Lodge. Not many people have heard of it and neither did I know that something like this existed here.
So just a little info about Freemasonry, basically a secret society, where like-minded people form an organization and hold secret meetings to come up with actions.
It was constructed in 1914 under the British Rule and to the locals, this building was known as Jadoo Ghar.
Now, this Freemasons lodge in Karachi is pretty historic and the building gives a damn classic British look. The huge pillars, the central wooden staircase which divides into two at the top, all these attributes add some creepiness and excitement on its own.
Since I am a curious bug, I searched everywhere and walked up the stairs just to find out that now this building belongs to the Sindh Wildlife department, which I question if are using this profound building to its full potential?
Now moving on to what Super Savari Express had in store for us.
I know that many of us actually love living in Karachi and for many, Karachi is totally killing them, but there is something about the clear Sunday mornings in the city. When there is not much traffic on the road, the streets look relatively clear and one can notice the shades of green around. Amidst all the hustle and bustle lies a city so tired with all the wear and tear but is always smiling and wakes up every morning, fresh and energized for a new beginning. Karachi holds thousands and thousands of stories, told and untold, lost and forgotten ones and the ones which are weaved in our soul.
Super Savari express has done an amazing job by retelling the tales of Karachi with actual visualization and interaction. Hats off to them for this!
Now moving on from Freemasons lodge our next destination was Kabootar Chowk.
Oh yes, over here our guides also lulled into some Bollywood fantasy by giving us a chance to live the Bollywood moment with many pigeons flying around.
Every Super Savari Express bus has its own tour guide who guide us in English, which is a good thing since most of the people are actual tourists visiting from foreign nations and since most of the Pakistanis understand English as well.
Kabootar chowk is the big round about across Sindh High court. Earlier it was called Gandhi Chowk because it had a big statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
But after partition, the statue was removed from there and then handed over to the Indian embassy.
Walk in Saddar
After that, we were taken to Saddar, and then the bus came to a halt, and we were made to walk around the streets.
Trust me that the only way you can walk around Saddar street peacefully is only on Sunday mornings. And if you walk deeper into the streets of Saddar you will be surprised to see there is so much history and many interesting stories hidden in the crevices of these antique British-era buildings.
And every old building in Saddar has a story attached to it, which gave Karachi something profound in terms of business, economy, social structure and culture.
Be it the first Kachi Memon mosque, or the only Parsi Temple in Pakistan or the first bazaar, or the first insurance company building. Saddar is home to them.
Becuase even if we do happen to visit Saddar its usually for shopping and we walk with our eyes looking straight or sideways rarely do we lift up our heads and look at the massive construction, and the dates inscribed at the top of these massive old rocks solid constructed buildings.
A tour with Super Savari Express definitely gives you a chance to ponder over buildings that have history and not just retail business in Saddar.
After a good amount of walk, everyone’s tummy was rumbling and what could be better than an offer of Pakistan’s universal nashta which is anda paratha.
We were taken to one of the oldest cafes in Karachi which is known as Cafe Jahangir. Started by a Parsi businessman, for providing free food to the poor and all the money earned from this business would be given to charity.
The paratha was pretty good. Fresh hot and crunchy served with the regular pyaaz wala omelet. Doodh Patti chai, delicious and totally kicking!
We continued our tour, after the yummy desi nastha.
St. Patricks Cathedral
Christians in Karachi
The Christian population in Karachi is 2.42% and they constitute the largest religious minority in Karachi. The two major Christian ethnic groups are the Goan ( from Goa) Catholics and Punjabi Christians.
Hidden in the overcrowded area of Saddar and covered with high walls, one can only spot the dome of the cathedral. But if you ever did get a chance to visit St.Patricks cathedral from inside, you will be dazed! I really don’t have any information whether outsiders are allowed to visit the cathedral on random basis. We were privileged to take a tour inside the cathedral, thanks to Super Savari Express tour.
What makes St.Patricks cathedral such an awe-inspiring sight is the Gothic Revival architecture.
The Monument of Christ the King is also situated inside the cathedral. It’s a splendid construction of white marble. Once you go inside the monument there is something suspensive, and it has a story related to it as well. Me and my kids were anticipating it a lot and it was worth the tension. 🙂
The church from inside is huge, with a very high ceiling, with a seating capacity for around 1500 worshippers. There are beautiful paintings and exquisite glass work on the walls.
If you have never seen a typical church from inside, St. Patricks cathedral is the place to go.
This was the first time I went to Empress market.
Empress market was one of the earliest gateways of business. Early Sunday mornings are not very busy in Empress market, the way it gets later during the day. Empress market also has the biggest meat market in Karachi.
After Empress market, our next and final destination was Mohatta Palace.
Since Army Public school students had a pre-booked visit to Jinnah House, we couldn’t tour it that day. Otherwise, it is included in the package.
So as far as Mohatta Palace is concerned I have been there many times. Though each time there is a new exhibit. And this time there were three displays, Textile, World Maps and some Paintings.
The World Map display was the best and quite an eye opener.
Super Savari Express Tour had to end at 1 pm, but reached back to the head office around 2 pm. Reason? Karachi Eat Festival near Frere Hall, which added a lot of traffic.
Since Sundays are usually free the delay wasn’t an issue. And we were really glad that we had finally done Super Savari Express and it was totally worth it.
Many people would easily judge Super Savari Express thing as a very ordinary tour. But if you try to understand their USP, you learn they are actually paying a wonderful tribute to the city of Karachi. And the local residents of Karachi must definitely experience it once and actually enjoy their city’s heritage.