Growing cultural colours of Multan with magnificient history

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APP06-12 MULTAN: May 12 – Countless pigeons fly near mausoleum of Hazrat Shah Rukn-e-Alam at Qasim fort in the city. Multan is home to a colourful culture, a dynamic youth talent pool and carries the marks of civilizational evolution over the last five to six thousand years of its continuous habitation. The city still stands and flourishing after having survived the wrath of invaders from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.(Match the picture with the APP feature slugged “Multan survived invasions but still stands defiant with glowing cultural colours By Iftikhar Ahmad’ already been released). APP photo by Safdar Abbas

By Iftikhar Ahmad

MULTAN, May 12 (APP): Multan is home to a colourful culture, a dynamic youth talent pool and carries the marks of
civilizational evolution over the last five to six thousand years of its continuous habitation.
History pages reveal the city now known as the city of
saints, cotton and delicious mangoes, had, at times, enjoyed the
status of kingdom, province and remained an important route for
cross-country business and trade activity.
Life always thrived on the banks of rivers, and, Multan was no
exception with Ravi as its main stay, which, over time, changed
its course leaving Chenab to take over.
Noted historian, a senior journalist and an expert on
Multan, Hanif Chaudhry, disclosed that Multan remained located on
a sea shore around 20,000 years ago. He cited reference from a
book of a western researcher, Mr. Stanley, on Oceanography.
Hanif Chaudhry says survival of Multan for so many centuries
lies in the fact that its relation with rivers remained in tact
during this long journey of history. Cotton cultivation and
weaving fabric from the lint was an ancient practice though
people also used to rear cattle and grew food crops.
The people from other countries also brought with them their culture and art
and their hold left indelible mark on the culture of this area.
This land supported art, poetry, singing and craftsmanship which
encompasses bows Kaman for archers, baked clay vessels with floral
and geometrical designs and camel skin lamps of Multan
decorated with ‘Naqqashi’ are famous all over the world.
The earliest history of Multan faded away in mists of
mystery and mythology, however, most of the historians agree that
Multan, beyond any doubt, was conquered by Alexander in 200-BC after facing mighty resistance.
He was fatally wounded, never recovered, and died on his way back
at Babylon, says a brief compilation of Multan history by
officials of Punjab archaeology department.
A Chinese historian Hiuen Tsang who visited Multan in 641 AD
described the circuit of the thickly populated city about five
miles where soil was rich and fertile and eight Deva temples
stood tall with grand temple dedicated to the Sun looked
magnificent.
Muhammad Bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in 712 AD
defeating Hindu army.
‘Jawahar-al-Bahoor’, a famous Arabic History, says, Multan
then was known as the “House of Gold”. Ibn-e-Khurdaba, in his
book “The Book of Roads and Kingdoms” said that Arabs called
Multan as the House of Gold while Al-Masudi of Baghdad described
it as Meadows of Gold.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi attacked Multan twice, the second time in 1010 AD. Sultan
Shahabuddin conquered it in 1100-1200 AD and appointed Ali
Karmani as Governor of Multan and Uch.
Mongols had also attacked Multan including Changez Khan in
1218 AD.
There were, however, two periods when Multan was practically
a separate Kingdom independent of Delhi, sometime in 1400-1500 AD
under Langah dynasty and then by Haibat Khan, a commander of Sher
Shah Suri. Suri had bestowed the kingdom of Multan on Haibat
Khan.
During the 80 years of Langah dynasty, Multan became the
principle caravan route between Qandahar to Delhi and agriculture
flourished once again.
After emperor Babar’s death, Humayun recaptured the Indian throne in 1555 AD. A Royal mint for silver and copper coins was established at Multan along with the mint of Delhi, Agra and few other places.
It is stated that renowned poets Amir Khusro and Hassan
Dehelvi composed their poems in Multan when its defence
responsibility was assigned by Balban to his eldest son Muhammad
Khan-i-Shahid.
During reign of Ghyasuddin Tughlaq, Multan witnessed
prosperity and the city was adorned with monuments including
mausoleum of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya Multani, Hazrat Shah Rukn-
e-Alam and Hazrat Shah Shams Sabzwari.
Under the Mughal emperors, Multan enjoyed peace for two
centuries from 1548 to 1748 during which cultivation increased
and commerce flourished.
Multan had escaped immediate threat after the fall of Mughal
empire owing to the change of route of invaders from Afghanistan
to India.
Multan finally was part of Pakistan in 1947 with a
population of nearly 100,000. After 70 years since independence, Multan is now a division
and an important most city of South Punjab with a variety of
industries operational including textiles. City population is
over 1.8 million. Its agriculture flourishing and trade and
business sound resonant. It has now three universities, many
colleges, a tertiary health care facility besides many other
hospitals, a series of colleges and schools, two railway
stations, an international airport, glowing shopping malls, an
operational industrial estate and much more.
Multan is again poised to be a part of a cross-country route
after Multan-Sukkur motorway was declared a part of China
Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion-dollar project
aimed at connecting Pakistan with the Central Asian Republics and
other countries and being dubbed as a game changer. Multan would,
many hope, move to prosperity like rest of Pakistan once the CPEC
becomes operational.