Karachi’s First Liqour Tavern

Karachi’s first liquor tavern MOKHI AND MATARA – A folk tale

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

The story of a tavern in Karachi dates back to around 400 years.

Perhaps this is the oldest recorded tavern of the city. Natar, a maid of Moomal, came to a village called Konkar (modern day Gadap) and settled here. She established a brewery and tavern which became popular locally as well as in far flung areas attracting customers. Her beautiful daughter, Mokhi, served as a barmaid. The delicacy of wine and the charms of Mokhi rapidly gained fame which brought revellers from all over. Among the admirers were eight Matara (which in Sindhi mean strong) warriors: two each from the Samma, Soomra, Channa and Chauhan clans. Having enjoyed multiple drinks form pots of old wine and seduced by the attractive barmaid, these brave visitors left tranquil but decided to return. On one of their returning trips, Mokhi had run out of old wine. Perturbed, she discovered an old wine jar which was years old long abandoned in the depot. The wine appeared very colourful and had a fragrance. The Mataras were delighted with the wine and commented “Never did we taste such a wine”. Heavily intoxicated, they left the tavern dancing in tranquility. Once they had gone, Mokhi discovered a long dead snake in the pot of wine that she had served them. She thought the Mataras would have perished but to her surprise they returned some time later. She happily served them the best old wine from her stock. Consuming glass after glass, they demanded the wine that they were served on the last visit. Reluctantly, Mokhi had to tell them the truth that the wine they drank on last visit was poisoned with cobra venom. The very thought of venom and its effect shocked them and they all fell dead on the spot and were buried there. The graves are still there in the old graveyard on the hillock, to be found at the foothill of Narathar in Gadap tehsil of Karachi! Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, narrated this folk tale in Sur Yaman Kalyan.

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(Photo courtesy: Friday Times, Umer Soomro, and Khurram Saeed Khan)

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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