Ali Shah, chief executive of Sabcon, opens his widely loved family home to us, shares his heritage, and shows the artefacts that add so much character to this magical space
Historical places are part of our heritage and the Barood Khana Haveli is no exception. The dark wood and the maze-like ceilings, indeed each stone of the building, add character to the space and create art.
When you enter through the massive solid wooden gates, you are almost transported back into Pakistan’s past. Our Mughal origins bellow from each wall ornament, with the frescoed walls revealing depictions of battles fought and won. The intricate woodwork on the doors and ceilings are all rare art, to be treasured.
In this day of urban living, where everything is replaceable, each rusty and chipped artefact is an extremely valuable part of the haveli. Sitting in a room devoid of modern-day amenities, its simplicity echoes volumes. These havelis were designed by pragmatic minds. The room is airy and the ceilings high, so even during the stifling summer months, there is a cool breeze.
When asked where most of the pieces were acquired from, Shah explained:“My great-great grandfather did up this room 200 years ago, but over the years the family has added to it. Yousaf uncle, in particular (Yousaf Salahuddin), has added the most character to this room.” Shah himself hand-carried six glass lamps from Iran; only two survived the rough journey, and every night the room is ensconced in a warm rose-coloured hue, the lamps emulating a perpetual setting of the sun.
“I use this room at least two or three times a month. Whenever new guests come to the haveli I bring them to this room first, because it’s the most intricate and has the most objets d’art. You can essentially learn our entire family’s history just from this one room.” Shah remarked proudly.
The love and care with which each heirloom has been preserved is quite remarkable. No wonder so many people still crave to use the Barood Khana Haveli for their special events.