Pakistan Maritime Museum, a fascinating journey through Pakistan's rich maritime history, its naval achievements, and its contributions to regional security and stability. As members of the Pakistan Navy League, we recently had the privilege of visiting this magnificent museum, located on Habib Ibrahim Rehmatulla Road near Bahria.Auditorium, Karsaz Karachi
On 13th May 2023, the Pakistan Navy League organized a visit to the Pakistan Maritime Museum for its members and their spouses. The museum, located on Habib Ibrahim Rehmatulla Road near Bahria auditorium Karsaz, is a state-of-the-art building that aims to promote awareness among the general public about naval history, artifacts, and equipment, most of which are strongly linked to the country's heritage.
The visitors departed from the duck park of Navy Housing Scheme at 10:30 AM and reached the museum at about 11:15 AM. Upon arrival, the Director General of the museum warmly received them and gave a brief overview of the museum's history. He mentioned that the idea of a naval museum was first considered in 1978, but the construction actually began in 1993. It took four years to complete, and the Pakistan Maritime Museum opened its doors to the public in 1997. He appreciated the efforts of Commodore Najmi in initially completing this Naval Project and still seek his advice whenever required.
After the introduction, the visitors were divided into four groups, and each group was assigned an officer to guide them through the museum. The first gallery that the visitors explored was the Maritime History Gallery, which highlights the important historical events related to seafaring exploits. Exhibits here are dated from the 3rd century up to the mid-1800s. Artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization, paintings depicting the conquest of Muhammad Bin Qasim, as well as ancient maps of the sub-continent were on display here. The most fascinating artifact of the Maritime History Gallery is the metallic armor, which was found off the coast of Ormara during recent dredging. It dates back to the 8th century when Mohammed Bin Qasim's forces passed through this region.
Next was the Naval Gallery, which was a showcase of the Pakistan Navy's achievements during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. The gallery contains a mix of paintings, murals, and exhibits. A large stone-finished relief mural depicts the return of the triumphant fleet after the devastating bombardment of the Indian coast at Dwarka. The gallery had a multitude of vintage naval equipment on display. Miniature models of naval ships, aircraft, and submarines were also on display here. A small space in this gallery was dedicated to expeditions that have led to the establishment of the Pakistani research station on Antarctica.
Moving away, there was the Chief of Naval Staff Corner, which was dedicated to the digital display of present CNS and former chief of Naval Staffs to display their formal and operational activities. Eleven digital corners were dedicated to ex-naval chiefs, and LED TVs showed their pictorial engagements.
“The Quaid and The Navy Corner” was the next exhibit, where one could witness the crockery used by Quaid-e-Azam and a picture of Quidat decorating Chief Ajaib at PNS Dilawar in 1948, along with letters of his correspondence with President Ayub Khan. Other memorabilia depicting Quaid’s long association with the navy is also on display here.
The fourth gallery was the Karachi Harbor Gallery, which focuses entirely on charts, graphs, and maps related to Karachi harbor. One wall shows the changes made to the harbor over time, while a painting of Manora on another wall shows what Manora Fort and its lighthouse were like back in their glory day. Immaculate sculptures representing the Traders of the East, a Ropery and the unique vintage lantern are its main exhibits. A large mural painting of Manora's Fort Qasim was also a sensational display.
Moving on to the Marine Life Gallery, learned about the diverse range of marine life found in Pakistani waters, from the sea surface to the continental shelf and beyond. The wall was decorated with a ceramic mural that depicts an abstract representation of underwater sea life, while the aquariums and pedestal showcases offer a chance to see live and preserved specimens up close. The highlight of this gallery is undoubtedly the mammoth Balaenoptera whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. This whale washed up on the shores of Karachi more than a decade ago and was treated and preserved for display at the museum. Measuring about 45 feet in length, this magnificent creature is occasionally found in tropical waters.
The museum also features a gallery dedicated to scientific learnings and discoveries. Working models of various appliances based on simple scientific principles are on display here, making it an ideal place for students to learn about the principles of science in an engaging and interactive way. Additionally, the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works corner is another popular exhibit, showcasing the development of the shipyard and oldest heavy mechanical facility of Pakistan.
We were absolutely awestruck by the exquisite works of art on display. The museum showcases the works of some of Pakistan's most renowned sculptors and artists, including Zahoor-ul-Akhlaque, Masood Kohari, and Shahid Sajad. Other prominent artists such as Noor Jahan Bilgrami, Khalil Chisti, Ruby, Masood Akhtar, Ather Jamal, and Shoaib have also contributed to the museum's impressive collection. The art pieces on display capture the rich history of Pakistan's maritime heritage, pay tribute to naval Shuhuda and showcase the Pakistan Navy's deeds of glory and development over the years. It was fascinating to see how reputed institutions like the National College of Arts and the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture have collaborated to create a modern and authentic museum experience. Overall, the art collection at the Pakistan Maritime Museum was truly mesmerizing and added a unique and enriching dimension to our visit.
One of the museum's most valuable resources is located in the basement, where a large library is available for students and researchers. This is also where the Office of the Naval Archive Center is located, housing a treasure trove of historical records, documents, and artifacts related to Pakistan's naval history and operations. The archive center has collected a wide variety of materials related to Pakistan naval history, including ship logs, maps, photographs, official correspondence, and personal papers of naval officers. These materials date back to the British era and provide valuable insights into the operations, tactics, and strategies of navies throughout history. The archive center also contains a wealth of interview data from Pakistan's inception, making it an essential resource for researchers and historians seeking to preserve the country's naval heritage.
Beyond the galleries located indoors, the museum's grounds offer an open-air museum experience. Visitors can explore a large lake that is home to a number of anchored exhibits, including the Ex-PNS Mujahid minesweeper ship, Ex-PNS Hangor historic submarine, and Ex-PNS barge. Other exhibits set up on the well-manicured lawns include a replica of the Manora lighthouse, an Atlantic aircraft, vintage guns, and torpedoes, as well as the saluting gun and coffin carriers of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan.
After a tour of the museum, the members were treated to a sumptuous lunch at the beautiful dining hall of the Golf Club. The food was delicious, and the ambience was delightful, making it a perfect end to an enjoyable day.
Navy League members visit to the Pakistan Maritime Museum was an unforgettable experience. The museum showcases the rich maritime history of Pakistan, and the well-curated galleries and exhibits make it an informative and enjoyable visit. The museum's collection of historic naval artifacts and interactive displays, make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in maritime history and the sea.