Multan is a
city in south central Punjab province. It is built just east of the Chenab
River. About 966 km from Karachi and more or less right in the center of the
country lie the ancient city of Multan. Multan, the 'City of Pirs and Shrines'
is a prosperous city of bazaars, mosques, shrines and superbly designed tombs.
A circular road
around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen gates. Some of the
imposing structures of these gates are still preserved. In the bazaars of the
Old City one still comes across tiny shops where craftsmen can be seen busy
turning out master-pieces in copper, brass, silver as well as textiles in the
The old city
has narrow colorful bazaars full of local handicrafts and narrow winding lanes.
There are many places of historical, cultural and recreational interest in the
Multan is a
commercial and industrial center, it is connected by road a rail with Lahore and
Karachi and by air with Karachi, Quetta, and Faisalabad. Industries include
fertilizer, soap, and glass factories; foundries; cotton, woolen and silk
textile mills; flour, sugar and oil mills; and a large thermal-power station. It
is famous for its handicrafts (ceramics and camel-skin work) and cottage
industries. There are hospitals, public gardens, and several colleges affiliated
with the University of the Punjab. The University of Multan was established in
1975. Large, irregular suburbs have grown outside the old walled town, and two
satellite towns have been set up. The numerous shrines within the old city offer
impressive examples of workmanship and architecture.
Tabriz shrine is built almost entirely of sky-blue engraved glazed bricks. That
of Shah Rukn-e Alam (Tughlaq period) has one of the biggest domes in Asia. The
shrine of Sheikh Yusuf Gardez is masterpiece of the Multani style. Other shrines
include the Pahladpuri Temple and the Idgah Mosque (1735).
Shujabad district are the best in the world. Multani khussa (shoes); embroidered
clothes for ladies; embroidered cholas for men; earthenware pottery, painted
potter, camel skin ware (e.g. lamps); carpets wooden products, especial
Detailed History Of Multan
The earliest history of
Multan fades away in the mists of mystery and mythology. Most of the
historians, however agree that Multan beyond any doubt, is the same Maii-us-than
which was conquered by Alexander who faced here tremendous resistance. He
was fatally wounded while fighting to capture the citadel. For the first
time his sacred shield, which he had taken from the temple of Illion,
Athena, and which he used always to be carried before him in all his
battles, rolled in dust while he fell unconscious on the ground with blood
gushing out from his wounds. But that was the scene which inspired the
Macedonians and seeing their king in that state they launched a lightening
attack and captured the citadel without any further harm to Alexander.
Alexander, however, never recovered fully well after this battle and died,
on his way back, at Babylon.
History is silent for more
than six centuries that is until 454 A.D. when White Huns, the barbarous
nomads, stormed Multan under the banner of their leader Torman. After a
fierce fight they conquered but did not stay for long and Hindu rule
continued once again for about two hundred years.
Subsequent history of
Multan is well established and more than sufficient light has been thrown
on the cross section by world famous travellers, writers and
historians who visited Multan including the Chinese historian Hiuen Tsang
in 641 A. D. The Chinese traveller found the circuit of the city about 30 li
which is equal to five miles. He described, "the soil rich and fertile
and mentioned about eight Deva temples. He also mentioned that people do
not believe in Buddha rule. The city is thickly populated-the grand
temple dedicated to the Sun is very magnificent and profusely
decorated-The image of Sun Deva also known as "Mitra" is cast in
yellow gold and ornamented with rare gems. Its divine insight
mysteriously manifested and its spiritual powers made plain to all and
Multan was first visited by the Muslim arms during the reign of the Khalifa
Abu Bekr, in 44 Hijri (664 A.D.), when Mohalib, the Arab General, afterwards
an eminent commander in Persia and Arabia, penetrated to the ancient capital
of the Maili. He returned with many prisoners of war. The expedition,
however, seems to have been directed towards exploration of the country as
no attempt was apparently made to retain the conquest.
Mohammad Bin Qasim, the
great Muslim general invaded this subcontinent in 712 A. D., and conquered
Sind and Multan. The city was conquered after a fierce and long battle which
lasted for seven days. Many distinguished officers of the Muslim army
sacrificed their lives in the battle, but the Hindu army was defeated.
The author of 'Jawahar-al-Bahoor' ( the famous Arabic History) writes in his
book "that Multan at that time was known as the House of Gold. There was a
great Mandir which was also called as the Sun Mandir. It was so big that six
thousand resident worshippers were housed therein. Thousands of people from
every corner of the country used to visit this place to perfom their Haj
(Pilgrimage). They used to circle round it and get their beards and heads
shaved off as a mark of respect.
In the periods, of Caliph
Mansoor, and Mostasim Bilia, Multan was attacked by Arabs several times.
Ibn Khurdaba described in
his book, "The book of Roads and Kingdoms", "Multan being two months journey
from Zarani the capital of Sijistan, by the name of Farj because
Mohammad, Son of Qasim, Lieutenant of At-Hajjaj, found vast quantities
of gold in the city, which was forwarded to the Caliph's treasury so it was
called by the Arabs the House of Gold".
Al-Masudi of Baghdad who visited the valley of the Indus in 303 A.H. (915
A.D.) mentioned about Multan in his book, "The Meadows of Gold", that
"Multan is seventy five Sindhian Farsangs from Mansura. It is one of
the strongest frontier places of the Musulmans and in its neighbourhood
there are a hundred and twenty thousand towns and villages", Al-Masudi also
mentioned about the idol and explained as to how people living in the
distant parts of country travel to Multan to perform pilgrimage and in
fulfilment of their woes and religious obligations, they make offerings of
money, precious stones, perfumes of every kind and aloe wood before it.
Both tstakhari of Istakhar, or Persepolis, who wrote about the middle of
the tenth century 340 A.H. (951 A.D.) and Ibn Haukal of Baghdad who based
his work on that of Istakhari, give glowing accounts of Multan which
they described as a large, fortif ied and impregnable city, about half
the size of Mansura, the ancient Muslim capital of Sind. They also
mentioned about the idol of Multan as being held in great veneration by
Hindus who flocked to it from all parts of India.
Sultan Sabuktageen, the Afghan King conquered Multan, but after four years,
that is, in 980 A.D. it was conquered by a Sardar of the Karamti Tribe
who ruled it for some time.
Mahmood Ghaznavi attacked
Multan for the first time - conquered it and demolished many Hindu temples.
He demolished the famous 'Sun Mandir' also. Mahmood Ghaznavi attacked Multan
for the second time during 1010 A.D. and conquered it but did not stay for
Sultan Shahab-ud-din, who
is also known as Mohammad Gbory, finally defeated Pirthvi Raj and conquered
India. After consolidating his position in Dehli, the capital of India, led
an army attack, against Multan and conquered it. As such, Multan, which had
remained almost independent under the Arab rulers became a dependency of the
house of Ghaznavi. Sultan Mohammad Ghory appointed Aii Karmani as his
Governor of Multan and Uch.
In 1218 A.D. Changez Khan
invaded Western Turkistan and for the next three centuries history of Multan
is practically the history of incursions from Western and Central Asia to
which the invasion of Changez gave rise. During this period Multan was
nominally subject to the Delhi Empire. There were, however, two periods when
Multan was practically a separate Kingdom independent of Delhi. At times the
province was held by powerful governors who, though, unable to secure
independence, were powerful factors in the dynastic changes of the time.
The Administration of Multan suffered due to preoccupation of Delhi Empire
in repelling the repeated raids of Mughals from Khurasan and Central Asia.
In 1 284 A.D. the Mughals under Taimur Khan, defeated and killed prince
Muhammad, known as the Martyr Prince who then ruled Multan. In 1305 A.D. an
invasion under Aibak Khan was repelled by the redoubtable warrior Ghazi Beg
Tughlak, who is said to have 29 times defeated the invading hordes. In 1 327
A.D. a force under Turmsharin Khan over-ran the distt. and retreated on
payment of bribe.
After the establishment of
the Delhi Sultanate, Multan became its western frontier. In the beginning it
was governed by Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha, then captured by jaial-al-Din
Manakabarni and finally annexed by Shams-AI-Din Altamash. When Balban
strengthened his frontier guard he posted his eldest son Sultan Muhammad
Khan-i-Shahid here and made him responsible for the defence. It was under
his patronage that Amir Khusrau and Hasan Dehiavi lived in Multan and
composed their poems. Multan, however, continuously suffered from Mongol
order to meet these Mongol pressures Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq was appointed as
a warden of the Frontier Marches. From Multan he rose to be the Sultan of
Delhi - Multan remained under the Tughlaqs until it was conquered by Amir
Taimur in 1 397 A.D.
During this long period the prosperity of Muitan grew unabated. It was
during this period that the city was adorned by important monuments that
established a particular school of Muitani Architecture. The Tombs of Baha-AI-Din
Zakariya, Shah Rukn-AI-Din, Rukn-e-Alam and Shamas Sabzwari have given to
Multan a unique place in the indo-Muslim Architecture. The presence of these
tombs of the saints mentioned above have also added a religious tone to the
In 1 397 A.D., came the invasion of Taimur whose troops occupied Uch and
Multan, sacked Tiamba, raided the Khokhars of Ravi and passed across Beas to
Pakpattan and Delhi.
For about forty years
after the departure of Taimur there was no government in India in reality.
Khizer Khan Syed governed the Kingdom in the name of Taimur but without any
sovereign title or royal honours. During the troubled reign of his grand son
Syed Mohammad, an insurrection broke out in Multan among the Afghans called
Langas. Finally one of the Langa chiefs proclaimed himself as the king of
Multan under the title of Sultan Kutab-ud-din Langa.
During the eighty years that Multan was held by Langa Dynasty, it became the
principal caravan route between India and Kandhar. Commerce and agriculture
flourished. All the lands along the banks of the Chenab and the Ghagra as
well as some on the Indus were cultivated and prosperity flourished once
In 1526 A.D. Shah Hussain
Arghun, at that time the ruler of Sind, seized Muitan on behalf of Baber,
the Mughal emperor. He bestowed it on his son Mirza Askari. The Mirza,
assisted by Langar Khan, one of the powerful amirs of Sultan Mahmud Langa,
held possession of Multan during the rest of the Baber's reign. After the
death of Baber, Humayun found himself compelled to surrender Multan, in fact
whole of Punjab, to his eldest brother, Kamran Mirza. The prince established
his court at Lahore and deputed one of his arnirs to take care of Multan.
During the confusion that followed the flight of Humayun to Persia the
Kingdom of Multan was captured by Baluchies under their chieftain Fatteh
Khan who surrendered it to Hebat Khan, one of the commanders of Sher Shah
Suri. Pleased with his services, Sher Shah Suri bestowed the Kigndom of
Multan on Hebat Khan.
When Humayun recaptured
the Indian throne in 1555 A. D. Multan was also amalgamated in the Mughal
Empire, Abul Fazal mentions in "Ain-c- Akbari" that: "Multan was one of the
largest provinces of the empire, extending to the frontiers of Persia
including within its limits the modern countries of Baluchistan, Sindh,
Shikarpore and Thatta, besides a portion of Doabas now attached to Lahore. A
royal mint for silver and copper coins was established at Multan alongwith
the mints at Delhi, Agra and a few other places". Under the Mughal
Emperors, Multan enjoyed a long period of peace and was known as Dar-ul-Aman
(city of peace). For more than two hundred years that is from 1548 to 1748
there was no warfare in this part of the Punjab. As a result of these
peaceful conditions, cultivation increased, particularly in the riverain
areas and commerce flourished. Multan thus became an emporium for trade. The
city became the headquarter of a province which covered the whole of the
South Western Punjab and, at times, included Sind also.
At the decline of the
Mughal Empire Multan had, at first escaped devastation which was experienced
by other parts of the subcontinent. The main reason was the change in the
route of the invaders from Afghanistan to India as it lay through Lahore. So
the armies of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali left Multan unscathed. After
having been a part of the Dehii empire, Multan in 1752, became a province
owing allegiance to the Afghan kings of Kabul. During this period the
country was ruled by Governors of Pathan extraction and under the rule of
the Saddozais of Kabul. The Saddozais governed Multan for more than sixty
six years but general conditions remained turbulent.
After consolidating their position at Lahore, the Sikhs marched to the
south-west for over two hundred and fifty miles. They crossed the indus and
penetrating into the Deras' under their Commanders Sardar Hari Singh Bhangi
and his sons, jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh along with Hira Singh, the Sikhs
destoryed everything, plundered many villages and killed the people
mercilessly, set the houses of the Muslims on fire and demolished many
mosques. Ultimately, under the command of jhanda Sing and Ganda Sing, they
appeared before Multan on March 9 1764 A.D. (21 Ramazan 11 78 A. H.) looted
its suburbs but after collecting millions of rupees they returned.
By the beginning of 1818
Ranjit Singh succeeded to raise a big army consisting of 25,000 soldiers
equipped with necessary provisions which he placed under Diwan Misr Chand,
his most trusted General. The over all charge of the campaign wasentrusted
tohiselderson Khark Singh and the contingent set out for Multan
with great pomp and show. The famous Zamzama Gun was also transported to
Multan. Nawab Muzaffar Khan Saddozai who was the Governor of Multan for the
past thirty nine years fought courageously but failed to save Multan from
the clutches of Sikhs. The death of Muzaffar Khan was in fact the death of
the Muslim rule in Multan. After capturing the Fort the Sikh soldiers were
let loose to arson and debauchery and Latif recorded as under :
"The city and Fort were now given up to be plundered by the sikh troops.
Great were the ravages committed by the sikhs on this occasion. About 400 to
500 houses in the Fort were razed to the ground and their owners deprived of
all they had. The precious stones, jewellery, Shawls and other valuables
belonging to the
Nawab were confiscated to the state and kept carefully packed by Diwan Ram
Diyal for inspection of the Maharaja. In the town many houses were set on
fire and nothing was left with the inhabitants that was worth having.
Hundreds were killed in city sack, and indeed there was hardly a soul who
escaped both loss and violence"
The Sikh rule continued in the Punjab and Multan unchecked but thinking
themselves very powerful, the sikhs crossed the Sutlej and entered into the
British Territory. They looted some of' the villages also. This happened on
December 8, 1845 A.D. The outcome of this adventure was a fierce battle and
a disastrous and
ignominious defeat of the Sikh Army. Thereafter a treaty was signed between
the British and the Sikhs. Under the new treaty a Council nf Regency was
established at Lahore which empowered the British to intervene into many
administrative matters. Keeping in view the provisions of the treaty the
British Resident introduced several measures in order to regulate the ad
'Ministration throughout the Sikh territories. These measures were to be
implemented by Diwan Mul Raj also, who was the Sikh Governor of Multan. The
changes were, however, detrimental to the over all interests of the Diwan as
they affected his tight control over the traders and businessmen. The other
decision of the Resident which brought a blow to Diwan Mui Raj was the
introduction of appeals against the decisions of the district officers. such
appeals were to be heard by the Lahore Darbar. These measures infuriated the
Diwan, as he considered it as an infringement of his rights.
So keeping in view the insulting attitude of the British Diwan Mul Raj first
resigned, then changed his mind and agreed to continue for some time. Later
his resignation was accepted on March 24, 1848 and Sardar Khan Singh was
appointed as the new Diwan of Multan while two British officers, Mr. P. A.
Vans Agnew and Lt. W. A. Anderson were appointed to take care of the
administration. When these officers reached Multan they were received by
Diwan Mul Raj but his advisers forced him to change his mind. In the
meanwhile commotion and agitation spread into the city. As such the helpless
Diwan became a tool in the hands of the Sikh Army which rebel.led and the
two British off icers were mu rdered. The rebelling soldiers gathered around
Mul Raj and declared him as their leader.
This open rebellion infuriated the British Government at Lahore and they
decided that Multan should be captured and amalgamated into the British
Territory. So the British Government collected forces right from Bannu to
Bombay on top priority basis in order to capture Multan and by the end of
the year Multan was surrounded from all sides. On December 21) 1848 the
Bombay Division commanded by Brigadier Dundas also reached Multan. On
December 27, one British column launched an attack on the suburbs and the
residence of Mul Raj, the "Aam Khas", was bombarded while three other
columns were ordered to make diversion to distract the enemy. The irregular
forces commenced the diversion at noon and by 4 p.m. the whole line of the
suburbs including the tomb of Sawan Mal, the blue Mosque of Shams Sabzwari
and the cantonments of the 'Aam Khas' were in possession of the British. The
Bombay Native Rifles actually
entered one of the city gates. Meanwhile, a shell from a mortar blew up the
magazine located within the fort. containing 5,000 maunds of powder. The
explosion destroyed the great Mosque and the lofty dome of Baha-ud-Din
On January 2, 1849, breaches in the Khuni Burj and the Dehii Gate were
reported, and storming parties advanced and crossed the intervening ditch,
but the city wall was found intact with a height of 30 feet, totally
impregnable. A most bloody struggle ensued and the English became masters of
the town. Again, to
quote Latif: "Terrible had been the carnage during the siege and frightful
the effect of the British Ordnance. The battered town of Multan presented
the appearance of a vessel wrecked and broken by a tremendous storm which
had driven it to an
inhospitable shore. The streets were strewn with slain Sikhs, whose long
locks, matted with gore, and beards, blown about by the wind, gave the dead
a demoniacal appearance. Not a house or wall had escaped the effects of the
English shells. All had been scorched and blackened by the bombardment. Mul
Raj retired to the citadel with more than 3,000 picked men, the rest all
dispersed and fled. In vain did the Diwan make an endeavour to rally them.
They were dispirited, and nothing was left for the garrison but to sally or.
surrender. Mul Raj was now reduced to the last extremity. A constant storm
of shell had reduced the
interior of the fortress to a wreck. Ail the flour having been blown up in
the explosion of the grand mosque, every soldier of the garrison was obliged
to grind the wheat for his own food. Mul Raj's chief advisers urgently
pressed him to surrender, and he promised either to do this or take poison.
He was finally arrested by the British and that was the end of the Sikh rule
over Multan as well as the end of loot and plunder which was the main
characteristic of the Sikh rule.
As stated above the residents of Multan suffered extensively during this
battle. It was another addition to the history of the power game and
bloodshed witnessed by the streets of Multan but life returned to normal
with the passage of time.
Multan, however, lost its
very important position as soon as the British stronghold over the
sub-continent grew stronger and stronger. Although peace prevailed in the
region but no real progress was made. When independence was achieved in 1947
Multan was a forgotten region. There was no industry; no higher and
professional educational Institutions, no high standard hospitals; so much
so that there was not even a single recreation park in the whole of the
city. It looked more like a town though its population was nearly one lakh.
The site of the Old Fort was in ruins. Thorny bushes and ditches were in
plenty whispering the awful tale of its ruination, Majority of the roads
were unmetalled and the sewerage system too defective to explain. The
history of the district since independence is mainly connected with the
expansion of facilities except a few minor changes such as one of its
districts, that is, D.G. Khan has been declared as the Divisional
Headquarter and some of its Tehsils such as Vehari as the new District etc.