Quaid-E-Azam House Museum

Time’s Chisel

  • 01 Apr - 07 Apr, 2017
  • Mariam Khan
  • Spotlight


It was another day in the City by the Sea, in the reign of the British Raj. On a sunny day in the subcontinent, a man who was known for his steadfastness, elegance and grandeur, most of all an attribute he was known for, a man true to his word, walked by a structure of limestone, created by a British architect, Moses Somake.

The visitor to the Flagstaff House was Quaid-e-Azam, who stepped in the lush green gardens of the place – a symmetrical structure, shadowed by Banyan trees, semi-circular balconies and a deck – a deck that four years down the line would have a green and white flag pulled up to its flag pole. The Quaid ended up buying this spot for Rs. 115,000 from its Parsi owner, Sohrab.

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Present day

"The far-sightedness of the man we refer to as the Father of the Nation was such that he knew the leader of the newly founded state would need a residence for its leader,” Rasheed ul Wahab, the guide tells this scribe. “It was in 1947 that Jinnah moved all his belongings from his Delhi/Bombay residences and moved to this house,” he shares, educating all those who visit this spot about the man, the Quaid was.

Formerly known as the Flagstaff House, it was the residence of General Douglas David Gracey who went on to become the second Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan. “Now known as the Quaid-e-Azam House Museum, the covered area of this house is 10,241 square yards and was built in 1868,” Rasheed sheds light on the history of the house. What was unique about this structure that the Quaid opted for it to be his residence? “Quaid liked such kind of houses; all those who have seen his residences in Ziarat, Lahore, Delhi, Bombay and London, can spot similarities in the style of the structure,” Rasheed talks about the man’s architectural choice.

Meandering through the gardens of the house, Rasheed points at the kitchen, stable and annexe. As this very ardent buff of the Quaid outlines the building’s history, he takes out a bundle of keys, ready to unlock time’s treasure that lays inside a wooden arched white door. As the key fits the lock, a clank is followed by a rustic click. And as the door is unlocked, an air blows. One that reminds the visitor of the grandiosity which lies amidst simplicity. Reminding all those who visit about the individual who resided in this structure for a year and how unpretentious the layout of the space was – talking more of the residents of the house.

The drawing room is what we start off with. Rasheed points at a model of the Viking. “This is the model of the plane in which the Quaid came to Pakistan in 1947. The real one being kept in the PAF Museum. The decoration pieces were gifted by China and Japan,” Rasheed states, marking out repeatedly that all the pieces of furniture have been placed just like the Quaid left them. “These tiles are the same ones that were used at the time of the construction of this house,” Rasheed points out the “invention of the 1700s”.

The room which falls next is one where one can spot a map from afar. “This was gifted by Rafique Motiwala, a businessman from Bombay; the telephone was gifted by the USA; law books from the 1800s can also be seen in this room.”

Here, Rasheed mentions the work ethics of the Quaid. “He used to work 18 hours every day, ever since he became a lawyer,” and right then a student of Grade 9 steps in with her father whom the guide starts quizzing. “Who penned the name, Pakistan?” On hearing “Rehmat Ali”, he corrected the girl, mentioning the epithet of the nationalist.

As we walk into the dining room, Rasheed highlights “This dining table is where he used to eat, conduct meetings, and is made from walnut. The table is in three pieces. The design that you see is one that you normally see on carpets.”

A pencil sketch of Fatima Jinnah can be seen hanging on one of the walls which was given to her by Sara Akhlaq, daughter of A.K. Fazlul Haq. The Quaid’s sister was a dentist, the guide shares, adding that after Quaid’s wife passed away, she looked after her brother all along up until he passed away.

Bearing a lonesome sight, the house of the Founder of the Nation is hardly visited by the denizens of the city’s public as Rasheed points out. “Out of those who show up, 75% are from the forces, 15% are foreigners and 10% are those who belong to Punjab, mainly Lahore. People go to places of entertainment, here you get education so you don’t spot many visitors,” he laments.

With photos of the siblings adorning the walls, Rasheed reminds us that “the Quaid liked being photographed”.

As we step onto the red carpet that leads to the upper floor of the house, one can look into the simplicity that lays bare in the shape of the two Jinnahs’ rooms. A pair of slippers is kept next to the Lady of the house’s bed who spent 16 years of her life in this very house.

Another “personal drawing room” is what comes next, followed by a breakfast table where the two had their first meal of the day.

When in the Quaid’s room, the bright play of sun’s light on his bed is what brings to mind the leader’s elegant aura. But what one gets to see is that nothing extra is laid in the territory of his room or his dressing room where his two-toned leather shoes can be spotted alongside shoe trees to keep them in shape. “That was his intercom and on the bedside is a photo of Ruttie Jinnah,” Rasheed points out the small photo frame – the only photo of Ruttie seen in the house.

Be it the residence’s flawless symmetry or the time it has locked in its foothold, Quaid-e-Azam’s house speaks starkly of the leader he was, and with each step into the house what blares is his motto – ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ – and we are reminded how as citizens of the country we need to follow the footsteps of the man known for his unfaltering nature and for whom truth ruled over everything.