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Diwan Bahadur Sir Seth Harchandrai Vishandas (Sindhi: سیٺ ھرچند رائي وشنداس‎) PC KCIE CSI KIH QC MA LL.B. (1 May 1862 – 16 February 1928), was a British Indian attorney, politician and former mayor of Karachi, in modern-day Pakistan.[1] He is considered a great Sindhi and the father of modern Karachi.[2] His social, educational, and political services rendered to the people of Sindh are so great that he is now recognised as one of the makers of modern Karachi. He was one of the first six Sindhi young men who graduated from Elphinstone College, Bombay, before 1887.

Sir Seth Harchandrai Vishandas
Harchandrai Vishandas

(1862-05-01)1 May 1862
Died16 February 1928(1928-02-16) (aged 65)
NationalityBritish Indian
  • Lawyer
  • Politician
  • Independence fighter
  • Mayor of Karachi[1]
Known forFather of Modern Karachi

Seth Harchandrai Vishandas after completing law in the year 1885, accepted for a short period, a junior position in Shikarpur court, but he resigned soon and start a law practice in Karachi. Harchandrai was the elected Honorary Secretary of Karachi Bar Association for full 38 years just after its establishment in 1890. He was the elected president of Karachi Municipality for 1911–1921, and before that he was elected as member of Municipality in 1888. As mayor of Karachi, he oversaw a major beautification project which involved development of new roads, parks, residential and recreational areas.[1] He was subsequently appointed to the Viceroy's Executive Council and was ex officio a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom until his death in 1928.


Early lifeEdit

Seth Harchandrai Vishandas was born in May 1862, in a village Manjhu in tehsil Kotri, Sindh.[3] He relates to a Bharvani family,[4] known for its public-spirited members. He achieved his primary education in a school at Manjhu, which was founded by his father, Seth Vishandas Nihalchand,.[5] After completing his primary, he was sent to Kotri for middle education in missionary school of Kotri and used to live there in a spacious bungalow with great comfort. After that he got admitted in NJV High School in Karachi. He matriculated in 1878 and went to live with his maternal grandfather.

After matriculating, he went to Bombay for higher education and joined Elphinstone College, Bombay. Seth Harchandrai Vishandas received his law degree from Elphinstone College in 1882, which he later patronised as his Alma mater.

Professional backgroundEdit

Legal fieldEdit

Harchandrai was a lawyer and Queen's (later King's) Counsel, under Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V.[6] He joined a subordinate job in Shikarpur court. Persuaded by his father he resigned and started his own law practice in Karachi in 1886. He was elected honorary secretary of the Karachi Bar Association.

Mayorship of KarachiEdit

Harchandrai was elected mayor of the Karachi Municipal Committee in 1911 until 1921.[1] Under his mayorship, civic improvements led to the installation of gas lamps along the city's streets and the introduction of footpaths.[7] He was also responsible for development works which led to shifting the course of the Lyari River, which opened up land for development.[7]

Social services and politicsEdit

Seth Harchandrai in left with Mahatma Gandhi

Harchandrai was the first Sindhi to join the Indian National Congress[8] and served the cause of national independence with dedication. He was a strong Congress man. In fact the 28th session of Congress in 1913 was held in Karachi largely due efforts of him, his father, Seth Vishandas and Ghulam Mohamed Bhurgari. He and his father served as chairman and Secretary of reception committee in that session.[9] and he later presided over many Congress conferences in Sindh.[10][11] Harchandrai was a believer of Hindu-Muslim unity and was a Sufistic. The Theosophical Society made him a member. Seth Harchandrai plays a role as a freedom fighter of India.[12]


Harchandrai Vishandas died on 16 February 1928 in Delhi.[13] When the white Simon Commission disputed to India to review the working of 1919 reforms, the Congress party to press for its boycott. Harchandrai's vote was required for that purpose. He left Karachi against the advice of doctor and friends just to record his vote against the Simon Commission but died, on his way from the railway station to the Assembly Hall.

In the front of Karachi Municipal Corporation Building, on the 6th death anniversary of Seth Haarchandrai Vishanda on 16 February 1934, the statue of Harchandrai was unveiled and removed just after the partition of India in 1947.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Nadeem F. Paracha. "Visual Karachi: From Paris of Asia, to City of Lights, to Hell on Earth". Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Calling Karachi". The Times of India. 26 July 2001. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  3. ^ Khadim Hussain Soomro. Seth Harchandrai Vishandas. Sain Publishers, 2001 Original from the University of Michigan. pp. 19–99–126.
  4. ^ Institute of Historical Studies (Calcutta, India). The Quarterly review of historical studies, Volumes 19–20. Institute of Historical Studies 1980. p. 91.
  5. ^ Durga Das Pvt. Ltd. Eminent Indians who was who, 1900–1980, also annual diary of events. Durga Das Pvt. Ltd., 1985 original from University of Virginia. p. 43.
  6. ^ Sir Stanley Reed. The Times of India directory and year book including who's who, Volume 14. Bennett, Coleman., 1927. pp. 81&362.
  7. ^ a b Balouch, Akhtar (16 September 2015). "Harchand Rai Vishan Das: Karachi's beheaded benefactor". Dawn. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  8. ^ A. Moin Zaidi, Shaheda Gufran Zaidi, Indian Institute of Applied Political Research. The Encyclopaedia of Indian National Congress: 1906–1910, The Surat imbroglio. S.Chand, 1978 Original from the University of California. pp. 171–555.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ They Too Fought for India's Freedom: The Role of Minorities edited by Asgharali Engineer. 2006. p. 218.
  10. ^ N. R Phatak, Bha. Ga Kuṇṭe, Bombay (India : State). Committee for a History of the Freedom Movement in India, Maharashtra (India). Gazetteers Dept. Source material for a history of the freedom movement in India, Volume 3, Issue 1. Government of Maharashtra 1965 Original from the University of California. pp. 42–43–48.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Khadim Hussain Soomro. The path not taken: G.M. Sayed. Sain Publishers, 2004 original from the University of Michigan. p. 30.
  12. ^ Asgharali Engineer, Institute of Islamic Studies (Bombay, India). The Role of minorities in freedom struggle. Ajanta Publications, 1986 original from the University of Michigan. p. 179. ISBN 978-81-202-0164-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Khadim Hussain Soomro. Seth Harchandrai Vishandas. Sain Publishers, 2001 original from the University of Michigan. pp. 90–112.
  14. ^ Khadim Hussain Soomro. Seth Harchandrai Vishandas. Sain Publishers, 2001. p. 97.