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.

Detailed History Of Multan

Isolated remains of Homo Erectus in has been found indicating that Pakistan might have been inhabited since at least the Middle Pleistocene era. The precise date of these remains is unclear, and archaeologists put it anywhere between 200,000 to 500,000 BCE. The fossils are the earliest human remains found in South Asia. Modern humans arrived from Africa after their evolution about 70,000 to 31,000 years ago and settled in South Asia.

The original inhabitants of ancient Multan region, and rest of ancient Pakistan, were the aborigine tribes speaking languages related to Munda languages. Pakistan was the site of the earliest known farming settlements between South Asia and the Iranian plateau, the earliest of which was Mehrgarh in Balochistan dated at 6500 BCE. Multan was sparsely populated by various Elamo-Dravidian and Indo-Iranian tribes for centuries following the decline of the nearby Harappa and Mohenjo Daro of Indus Valley Civilization to the east. The Indo-Aryan tribes invaded from Eurasian Steppe and settled in northern Punjab and Kashmir.

200 BCE 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 the Great 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 the great. Alexander, however, never recovered fully well after this battle and died, on his way back, at Babylon.

400-600 CE History is silent for more than six centuries that is until 454 CE 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 CE 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 CE The Chinese traveler 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 so on".

Multan was first visited by the Muslim arms during the reign of the Khalifa Abu Bekr, in 44 Hijri (664 CE), 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.

700-800 CE Mohammad Bin Qasim, the great Muslim general invaded modern Pakistan in 712 CE, and conquered Sindh 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 and Multan became part of the Muslim caliphate.

800-900 CE In the periods, of Caliph Mansoor, and Mostasim Bilia, Multan and the surrounding areas developed as commerce and trade was carried out with the rest of Muslim world.

900-1000 CE 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 CE) 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". Both tstakhari of Istakhar, or Persepolis, who wrote about the middle of the tenth century 340 A.H. (951 CE) 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 about the idol of Multan as being held in great veneration by Hindus who flocked to it from all parts of South Asia. Sultan Sabuktagin, the Afghan King conquered Multan, but after four years, that is, in 980 CE it was conquered by a Sardar of the Karamti tribe who ruled it for some time.

1000-1100 CE Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi conquered Multan for the first time in 1007 CE - and consolidated the Muslim rule in Punjab. The Multan rebelled and Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi reconquered Multan for the second time during 1010 CE.

1100-1200 CE Sultan Shahab-ud-din, who is also known as Sultan Mohammad Ghauri, finally defeated Pirthvi Raj and conquered South Asia. After consolidating his position in Delhi, 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 Ghauri appointed Ali Karmani as his Governor of Multan and Uch.

1200-1300 CE In 1218 CE barbaric Mongol Changez Khan, also spelled Genghis 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 Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and many settled in Multan.

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 CE the Mughals under Taimur Khan, defeated and killed prince Muhammad, known as the Martyr Prince who then ruled Multan. In 1305 CE 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 CE a force under Turmsharin Khan over-ran the district and retreated on payment of bribe.

1300-1400 CE 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 CE

During this long period the prosperity of Multan grew unabated. It was during this period that the city was adorned by important monuments that established a particular school of Multani 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 Muslim Architecture. The presence of these tombs of the saints mentioned above have also added a religious tone to the city.

In 1397 CE, 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.
1400-1500CE For about forty years after the departure of Taimur there was no government in South Asia in reality. 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 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 South Asia 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 CE In 1526 CE Shah Hussain Arghun, at that time the ruler of Sindh, seized Multan on behalf of Babar, 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 Mughal emperor Babar, 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 Amirs to take care of Multan. During the confusion that followed the flight of Humayun to Persia the Kingdom of Multan was captured by Balochis under their chieftain Fattah 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 CE When Humayun recaptured his throne in 1555 CE Multan was also amalgamated in the Mughal Empire, Abul Fazal mentions in "Ain-e-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 Balochistan, 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 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 Sindh also.

1700-1800 CE At the decline of the Mughal Empire Multan had, at first escaped devastation which was experienced by other parts of the South Asia. The main reason was the change in the route of the invaders from Afghanistan to South Asia as it lay through Lahore. So the armies of Nadir Shah Durrani and Ahmed Shah Abdali left Multan unscathed. After having been a part of the Delhi empire, Multan in 1752, became a province owing allegiance to the Afghan kings of Kabul. During this period the country was ruled by Pakhtun Governors 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 barbaric Sikhs destroyed everything, plundered many villages and killed the people mercilessly, set the houses of the Muslims on fire, raped Muslim women and demolished most of the mosques and tombs of Muslim saints. Ultimately, under the command of Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh, they appeared before Multan on March 9 1764 CE (21 Ramadan 11 78 A. H.) looted its suburbs but after collecting millions of rupees they returned.

1800-1900 CE 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 was entrusted to his elder son 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, rapes and debauchery and Latif recorded as under : "The city and Fort were now given up to be plundered by the uncivilized 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, jewelry, 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 the Muslim houses were set on fire and nothing was left with the inhabitants that was worth having. Thousands were killed as city was mercilessly sacked and indeed there was hardly a soul who escaped both loss and violence".

The oppressive Sikh rule continued in the Punjab and Multan unchecked. The Sikhs army in Multan was over confident and after looting all the villages and towns under their control and now looked for new places to loot. The Sikh army crossed the Sutlej River and invaded the British colonial territory. They looted and pillaged Muslim villages on December 8th, 1845 CE and they also killed thousands of people, comitted rapes and kidnappings. Thr British were outraged and the British army invaded the Sikh kingdom and defeated the Sikhs. Thereafter a treaty was signed between the British and the Sikhs. Under this new treaty a Council of Regency was established at Lahore which empowered the British to intervene into many administrative matters.

The rogue Sikh Army in Multan which was the cause of British-Sikh war then rebelled unhappy over the restrictions in the treaty. The Sikh army murdered two British officers that were in Multan to oversee the implementation of the treaty. This open rebellion infuriated the British colonial government at Lahore and they decided that Multan should be captured and amalgamated into the British territory. The British army invaded in December 1848 and bombarded Multan. A shell from a mortar blew up the magazine located within the fort, containing gun powder, the explosion destroyed the great Blue Mosque and the lofty dome of Hadrat Baha-ud-Din Zakariya's tomb. On January 2, 1849, the British army finally captured Multan from the oppressive Sikh rule. 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. Not a house or wall had escaped the effects of the English shells. All had been scorched and blackened by the bombardment. Finally Multan was liberated from barbaric Sikhs as well as the end of the constant rapes, loot and plunder which was the main characteristic of the Sikh rule". The persecuted Muslims of Multan hailed the British as the liberators from the oppressive Sikh rule.

1900-1947 CE Multan, however, lost its very important position as soon as the British stronghold over the South Asia grew stronger. Although peace prevailed in the region but no real progress was made in developing the infrastructure of Multan. The people of Multan were deprived and lived in poverty as the economic situation remained bleak. The Muslim population of Multan enthusiastically supported the Muslim League and the establishment of the Islamic state of Pakistan.


Modern Pakistan gained it's independence from the British on 14th August 1947. The Hindu and Sikhs fanatics massacred over one million Muslims refugees fleeing from India.

At the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947, Multan city was in a very bad state. It was lacking industry, hospitals, and even places of higher education. Since independence, there has been economic development and the city's population has increased dramatically. But the old city continues to be in a dilapidated state, and many Muslim monuments wear the effects of the barbaric Sikh rule and British bombardments. Hospitals, schools, communications, industry, commerce, infrastructure, dry port and an international airport has been built in Multan. Multan has now become one of the major cities in Pakistan.

Demography and Society

Multan district is spread over an area of 3,721 square Kilometers with a population of approximately 4.1 million. The majority population speaks Seraiki, Punjabi, Balochi and Urdu. Over 99% of the population is Muslim and belong to Sunni Hanafi school of jurisprudence.


The Multan district has following four tehsils.

Multan Cantonment
Multan Sadar
Jalalpur Pirwala

Major towns are Makhdoom Rashid, Qadirpur Ran and Basti Maluk.


Since independence many schools, colleges and universities have been built in Multan. Bahauddin Zikria University, Al-Khair University, Preston University and Nishtar Medical College.





Page last updated: Sunday, February 12, 2006 11:42:38 -0500