Multan is probably the oldest surviving city in South West Asia. The history of Multan is the history of the sub-continent. Every invader from Alexander, through the Mughals, right up to the British have fought for control of the city. Multan is located about one hundred kilometers from Punjnad, where the five mighty rivers of the Punjab meet. Here in Multan, are more tombs of saints and Sufis gathered at one place than anywhere else in the world.
There is a much-quoted old saying about the four gifts of Multan heat, dust, beggars and burial grounds. May be it is true: many of the local place names of include words for heat, dust and sunshine and, it emerges, local people even have surnames which relate to heat and dust. Prefixes like “Dhup” “Khak”, “Suraj” and “Gil” speak plainly: hot and dusty.
There are many tales of the undoubted antiquity of Multan. People claim that Multan is as old as Mohenjo Daro: that when Adam was thrown out of the Garden of Eden, Multan was where Satan landed, some say that the Rigveda was written there. Captured in 712 in the advance of Islam, it was an important city, reaching its height as a center of learning and politics in the 13th century.
There was a Mughal fort at Multan with ditches filled with water from the Ravi, which at that time flowed nearby. The fort was destroyed during the Second Sikh War, and the British flattened it. They were avenging the deaths of two British officers, murdered locally. The mound which used to be the location is still called “The Fort”.
Multan was once famous for a sun temple and a fabulous golden statue of the sun god which occupied the centre of the citadel, but it was destroyed in the 10th century, and the replacement was again destroyed by Aurangzeb who erected a mosque on the site. This was blown up when the Sikhs used it as a powder magazine. There really isn’t anything recognizable remaining to view. Multan is also the City of the Sufi Saints because there are many tombs of the Sufis.
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