In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Karachi, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of this city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the events there during the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

KURRACHEE, or KARACHEE, the principal seaport town on the coast of Scinde, is situated on the side of a large and commodious creek or inlet, forming a good haven, perfectly safe in all winds, and capable of sheltering vessels of 200 and 300 tons burthen. Ot is situated on the latitude (fort at entrance) 24 47˚ 3" North and longitude 66 56 15" East (R.)/ The town stands on a low, sandy shore, and is large and populous; irregularly built, streets so extremely narrow that two people can scarcely walk abreast; houses chiefly of mud and sandstone, the latter being obtainable in great abundance from the rocks on the coast.

A considerable trade is carried on with Cutch, Bombay, and the principal ports on the Malabar coast. The native exports consist of camels, saltpetre, rice, and other grain; salt, ghee, hides, tallow, oil, oilseeds, fish, tanning-bark, alkalies, indigo, cotton, cotton cloth, longees, and carpets. The transit exports from the adjoining countries are assafoetida, opium, and various other drugs; madder and other dyes, alum, wool, silk, Cashmere shawls, dried fruits, lapis lazuli, gems of various kinds, the precious metals, and horses. The imports are metals, hardware, ivory, glass, chinaware, fine cotton and silks, fruits and groceries; shields of the hides of the rhinoceros and other animals, and dried fruits.

The East India Company have proposed to establish a general fail- here as a mart for the interchange of goods with Beloochistan, Afghanistan, &c. The low sandy shore on which the town is built extends to some distance into the interior, and is destitute of all vegetation, there being scarcely a vestige of a shrub or date-tree to be seen. Corn is procured from Hyderabad; and rice, which is the principal food, is brought from Catch and the Malabar coast. The water is brackish and ill-tasted.

The population of the town and suburbs, of which one- half are Hindoos, is increasing rapidly; in 1850 it was 25,000. The district of Kurrachee is one of the three divisions into which Scinde was partitioned when the country was subjected to British authority. The other districts are Hyderabad and Shikarpoor. [II, 125-26]

Related material — Victorian and later material on this site


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 24 November 2018