History About Multan

Multan the land of the Saints 

Multan is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, and the capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province and is steeped in history. It has a population of over 3.8 million (according to the 1998 census), making it the sixth-largest city in Pakistan. It is built just east of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic center of the country and about 966 km from Karachi. Multan is known as the ‘City of Pirs and Shrines’, and is a prosperous city of bazaars, mosques, and superbly designed tombs. The Multan International Airport connects flights to major cities in Pakistan and to cities in the Persian Gulf. The city’s industries include metalworking, flour, sugar, oil milling, textiles manufacturing, fertilizer, soap, and glass. Multan is also known for its handicrafts, especially pottery and enamel work.

One of the subcontinent’s oldest cities, Multan derives its name from an idol in the temple of the sun god, a shrine of the pre-Muslim period. The city was conquered (c.326 BC) by Alexander the Great, visited (AD 641) by the Chinese Buddhist scholar Hsüan-Tsang, taken (8th cent.) by the Arabs, and captured by Muslim Turkish conqueror Mahmud of Ghazna in 1005 and by Timur in 1398. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Multan enjoyed peace under the rule of Mughal emperors. In 1818, the city was seized by Ranjit Singh, leader of the Sikhs. The British held it from 1848 until Pakistan achieved independence in 1947. Landmarks include an old fort containing the 14th-century tombs of two Muslim saints.

200 BC

The earliest history of Multan fades away in the mists of mystery and mythology. Most historians, however, agree that Multan beyond any doubt is the same Maii-us-than that 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 the dust while he fell unconscious on the ground with blood gushing out from his wounds. But that was the scene that inspired the Macedonians and seeing their king in that state they launched a lightning 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 to Babylon.

400 – 600 AD

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.

600 – 700 AD

The subsequent history of Multan is well established and more than sufficient light has been thrown on the cross-section by world-famous travelers, writers, and historians who visited Multan including the Chinese historian Hiuen Tsang in 641 A. D. The Chinese traveler found the circuit of the city about 30 li which is equal to five miles. He described the soil as rich & fertile and mentioned about eight Deva temples. He also said that people do not believe in Buddha’s rule. The city is thickly populated, and 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 so on”.

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, afterward an eminent commander in Persia and Arabia, penetrated 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.

700 – 800 AD

Mohammad Bin Qasim, the great Muslim general invaded this subcontinent in 712 A. D. and conquered Sindh and Multan. The city was conquered after a fierce and long battle that 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 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 perform their Haj (Pilgrimage). They used to circle around it and get their beards and heads shaved off as a mark of respect.

800 – 900 AD

In the periods, of Caliph Mansoor, and Mostasim Bilia, Multan was attacked by Arabs several times.

900 – 1000 AD

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 neighborhood, there are a hundred and twenty thousand towns and villages”, Al-Masudi also mentioned the idol and explained how people living in the distant parts of the country travel to Multan to perform pilgrimage and in fulfillment 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, fortified and impregnable city, about half the size of Mansura, the ancient Muslim capital of Sindh. They also mentioned 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 in 980 A.D., it was conquered by a Sardar of the Karamti Tribe who ruled it for some time.

1000 – 1100 AD

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 long.

1100 – 1200 AD

Sultan Shahab-ud-din, who is also known as Mohammad Gbory, finally defeated Prithvi 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 dependent on the house of Ghaznavi. Sultan Mohammad Ghory appointed Aii Karmani as his Governor of Multan and Uch.

1200 -1300 AD

In 1218 A.D. Changez Khan invaded Western Turkistan and for the next three centuries, the 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 the preoccupation of the Delhi Empire in repelling the repeated raids of Mughals from Khurasan and Central Asia. In 1284 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 1327 A.D. a force under Turmsharin Khan over-ran the district and retreated on payment of a bribe.

1300 – 1400 AD

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 Jalal-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 defense. It was under his patronage that Amir Khusrau and Hasan Dehiavi lived in Multan and composed their poems. Multan, however, continuously suffered from Mongol invasions. In 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 Indo-Muslim Architecture. The presence of these tombs of the saints mentioned above has also added a religious tone to the city. In 1397 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.

1400 – 1500 AD

In India, Khizer Khan Syed governed the Kingdom in the name of Taimur but without any sovereign title or royal honors. During the troubled reign of his grandson 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 Kandahar. 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 again.

1500 – 1600 AD

In 1526 A.D. Shah Hussain Arghun, 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, the whole of Punjab, to his eldest brother, Kamran Mirza.

The prince established his court at Lahore and deputed one of his Arnie 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 Kingdom of Multan on Hebat Khan.

1600 – 1700 AD

When Humayun recaptured the Indian throne in 1555 A.D. Multan was also amalgamated into 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 along with 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 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 headquarters of a province that covered the whole of South Western Punjab and at times included Sindh.

1700 – 1800 AD

At the decline of the Mughal, Empire Multan had, at first escaped the devastation that 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 being 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 southwest for over two hundred and fifty miles. They crossed the Indus and penetrated into the Deras’ under their Commanders Sardar Hari Singh Bhangi and his sons, jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh along with Hira Singh, the Sikhs destroyed 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.) and looted its suburbs but after collecting millions of rupees they returned.

1800 – 1900 AD

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 overall charge of the campaign was entrusted to tehsildars 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 were deprived of all they had. The precious stones, jewelry, Shawls, and other valuables belonging to the Nawab were confiscated by the state and kept carefully packed by Diwan Ram Diyal for inspection by the Maharaja. In the town, many houses were set on fire and nothing was left with the inhabitants that were 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 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 of Regency was established at Lahore which empowered the British to intervene in 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 overall interests of 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 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, 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. Meanwhile, commotion and agitation spread into the city. As such the helpless Diwan became a tool in the hands of the Sikh Army which rebelled and the two British officers were murdered. The rebelling soldiers gathered around Mul Raj and declared him their leader.

This open rebellion infuriated the British Government at Lahore and they decided that Multan should be captured and amalgamated into British Territory. So the British Government collected forces right from Bannu to Bombay on a 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 a 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 Zakariya’s Tomb.

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 that 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 endeavor to rally them. They were dispirited, and nothing was left for the garrison but to Sally. surrender. Mul Raj was now reduced to the last extremity. A constant storm of shells had reduced the interior of the fortress to a wreck.

All 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.

1900 – 2023 AD

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 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, and 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 was too defective to explain. The history of the district since independence is mainly connected with the expansion of facilities except for a few minor changes.

Today, Multan is a bustling metropolitan city with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving economy. It is known for its historic landmarks, such as the Multan Fort, the Mausoleum of Shah Rukn-e-Alam, and the Multan Museum, as well as its traditional crafts, such as pottery, textiles, and jewelry.

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