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History of Multan

Multan was ruled by various Hindu and Buddhist empires for over 1000 years. It was the capital of ancient Trigarta Kingdom at the time of Mahabharta and ruled by Katoch Clan Kshatriya Rajputs.It is believed to have been visited by Alexander the Great. It is said that when Alexander was fighting for the city, a poisoned arrow struck him, making him ill and eventually leading to his death. The exact place where Alexander was hit by the arrow can be seen in the old city premises. It is believed to be the same city as "Maii-us-than", where Alexander's forces stormed the citadel after seeing their king injured and unconscious on the field of battle. Multan was part of the Mauryan and the Gupta empires that ruled much of northern India. In the mid-5th century, the city was attacked by a group of nomads led by Toramana. These nomads were successful in taking the city, but did not stay, and the long-standing Hindu rule over the city was re-established. The noted Chinese traveller Huen Tsang visited Multan in 641.


During the Pre-Islamic period, Multan was known as the city of gold for its large and wealthy temples. The Sun temple, Suraj Mandir, was considered one of the largest and wealthiest temples in the entire sub-continent. Numerous historians have written about this extremely large Hindu temple that housed over 6,000 people within it. Other famous sites included the Suraj Kund ("pool of the Sun") and Temple of Prahladapuri. Story of Prahlada from whom the temple took its name is interesting.
Prahlada was the son of King Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu held sway over this country and condemned the gods and forbade the paying of homage in their name. Prahlada was recognized as being a very devoted follower of Vishnu, much to his father's disappointment. As Prahlada grows in age, his father Hiranyakashipu becomes upset at his devotion to Vishnu, who he sees as his mortal enemy. Eventually his anger leads him to attempt to kill the boy Prahlada in many ways, but each time Prahlada is protected by Vishnu's mystical power. Finally in disgust Hiranyakashipu points to a particular pillar and asks if his Vishnu is in it? Prahlada answers "He is". Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashes the pillar with his mace, it burst in two and out sprang the god Vishnu in the form of a man-lion form called Narasimha Avatar who laid the King across his knees and ripped his stomach open with his claws. A temple devoted to Narasimha Avatar of Vishnu is built. The temple of Prahladpuri Temple is situated close to the shrine of Bahawal Huk. Currently its roof and surrounding building have been damaged but the pillar is no more. The Idol was shifted from temple to a new place near old fruit market. Now it has been relocated at Haridwar, where it was brought in 1947 by Narayan Das Baba.
Early Muslim era

In the 7th century, Multan had its first experience with Muslim armies. Armies led by Al Muhallab ibn Abi Suffrah launched numerous raids from Persia into India in 664 for inclusion of the area into their empires. In the same year Abdool Ruhman Bin Shimur, another Arab Ameer of distinction, marched from Merv to Kabul, where he made converts of upwards of twelve thousand persons. At the same time, also Mohalib Bin Aby-Suffra, proceeding with a detachment from thence, in the direction of India, penetrated as far as Multan: when having plundered the country, he returned to the headquarters of the army at Khorassan, bringing with him many prisoners, who were compelled to become converts to the faith. 

However, only a few decades later, Muhammad bin Qasim would come on behalf of the Arabs, and take Multan along with Sindh. His conquest was accompanied by much plundering: He then crossed the Biyas, and went towards Multan. Muhammad Bin Qasim destroyed the water-course; upon which the inhabitants, oppressed with thirst, surrendered at discretion. He massacred the men capable of bearing arms, but the children were taken captive, as well as ministers of the temple, to the number of 6,000. The Muslims found there much gold in a chamber ten cubits long by eight broad. 

Following bin Qasim's conquest, the city was securely under Muslim rule, although it was in effect an independent state, but around the start of the 11th century, the city was attacked twice by Mahmud of Ghazni who destroyed the Sun Temple and broke its giant Idol. A graphic detail is available in Al-Biruni's writings:

A famous idol of theirs was that of Multan, dedicated to the sun, and therefore called Aditya. It was of wood and covered with red Cordovan leather; in its two eyes were two red rubies. It is said to have been made in the last Kritayuga. When Muhammad Ibn Alkasim Ibn Almunaibh conquered Multan, he inquired how the town had become so very flourishing and so many treasures had there been accumulated, and then he found out that this idol was the cause, for there came pilgrims from all sides to visit it. Therefore, he thought it best to have the idol where it was, but he hung a piece of cow's flesh on its neck by way of mockery. On the same place a mosque was built. When the Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam Ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the idol into pieces and killed its priests. 

Ismailis
In 965, Multan was conquered by Halam bin Shayban, an Ismaili da’i. Soon after, Multan was attacked by the Ghaznavids, destabilizing the Ismaili state. Mahmud of Ghazna invaded Multan in 1005, conducting a series of campaigns during which some Ismailis were massacred while most later converted to Sunni Hanafi fiqh. 

In an effort to gain his allegiance, the Fatimid Ismaili Imam-caliph al-Hakim dispatched an envoy to Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi two years later. This attempt appeared to be unsuccessful and the Ghaznawids continued to attack other Ismaili strongholds in Sindh to suppress any resurgence of the community in the region. In 1032, Mahmud’s very own vizier, Hasanak was executed for having accepted a cloak from the Imam-caliph on suspicions that he had become an adherent of the Ismaili fiqh. 

Mahmud’s purges of the region led several scholars including Stern to believe that the Ghaznawid purges of the region drove out Ismailism from the area, however, recently-discovered letters dating to 1083 and 1088 demonstrate continued Ismaili activity in the region, as the Imam-caliph Mustansir dispatched new da’is to replace those who were killed in the attacks. Like his predecessor, Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad of Ghor first took, in 1178, the Ismaili Multan sultans in northern Sindh, which had regained independence from Ghaznavid rule.  Muhammad Ghori as a part of his campaigns to conquer north India, again massacred them. 

After Sultan Muhammad Ghori's victories in India, and his establishment of a capital in Delhi, Multan was made a part of his empire. However, the rise of the Mongols would again give it some independence, albeit requiring it to be vigilant against Mongol raids from Central Asia. The Qarmatians came to Multan in the 10th century and were expelled in 1175 by Sultan Muhammad Ghori.

Mughal era
Under the Mughal Empire, Multan enjoyed over 200 years of peace, and became known as Dar al-Aman (Abode of Peace). The Khakwani Nawabs of Multan gave it a lot of financial stability and growth to the local farming sector. It was at this time that Multan was ruled by Nawab Ali Mohammad Khan Khakwani. As governor of Multan, he built the famous Mosque Ali Mohammad Khan in 1757 which remains to this day. Many buildings were constructed in this time, and agricultural production grew rapidly. The Khakwani Nawabs of Multan at this time were paying homage to the Afghan king but due to lack of power in Delhi and Kabul they had free rein and were the de facto absolute rulers of Multan. Multan at that time included areas which are part of Vehari, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts. The city escaped the destruction brought upon India by the armies of Nadir Shah, but it was ruled from Kabul by numerous Afghan dynasties for a while. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Multan region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab region. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Maratha and Sikh invaded and occupied Multan. The Muslims faced severe restrictions during the Maratha and Sikh rule.

Maratha Empire
In 1758, the Maratha Empire's general Raghunathrao marched onwards, attacked and conquered Lahore and Attock and defeated Timur Shah Durrani, the son and viceroy of Ahmad Shah Abdali. Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and other subahs on the eastern side of Attock were under the Maratha rule for the most part. In Punjab and Kashmir, the Marathas were now major players.[8][9] Maratha general Bapuji Trimbak was given the charge of guarding Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan from Afghans. Maratha rule in Multan was short-lived as Durrani re-captured the city in November 1759.

British era
However, Sikh rule would not last long, as the British were eventually provoked into checking the Sikh strength in Punjab. After a long and bloody battle, Multan was made part of the British Raj. During this time, Sardar Karan Narain's son became an icon during the British Raj and was awarded titles 'Rai Bahadur' and Knighted 'Sir' by Her Majesty. The British built some rail routes to the city, but its industrial capacity was never fully developed.
Post-independence

The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Multan. It initially lacked industry, hospitals and universities. Since then, there has been some industrial growth, and the city's population is continually growing. Today, it is one of the country's largest urban centres and remains an important settlement in the Southern Punjab.


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