Multan is a city of captivating history and intricate shrines. This city is located in Southern Punjab, almost in the centre of the country, and has a massive population making it Pakistan’s seventh most populous city. In addition to being one of the ten largest cities in Pakistan, it is considered one of the significant economic and cultural hubs for the province of southern Punjab. Multan is considered one of the oldest inhabited places as many foreign invaders, including the Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Sikhs, and the British, have governed the city. Siraiki, a northern variant of Sindhi, is the native language of the Multani people.
Multan is known as the “city of saints” and is home to many mausoleums because of its diverse religious backgrounds. The famous places in Multan include historical forts and Chenab River boating. In addition, many shrines of Muslims and Hindu temples are popular sites for tourists, which makes them worth visiting. Besides handicrafts, sweets, fruits (mangoes and citrus), souvenir tiles, and local embroidery are the main attraction for buyers who want to explore different markets and bazaars in the city. Further, we will explore the walled city of Multan and highlight some of its key historical attractions for a better look at the city’s glorious past.
The walled city of Multan is situated on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of Pakistan. It is located about 562 km from Islamabad and 356 km from Lahore, and 966 km from Karachi. The city region of Multan has an area of 286 square kilometres (GoP, 2017), out of which the Walled City spreads over an area of 1.2 square kilometres (Perego et el., 2019). It is situated at the intersection of prime trade routes linking north to South and East to West, making its location strategically crucial for trade. The city is immediately surrounded by Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, and Bahawalpur and is usually referred to as the capital of South Punjab. The city comprises six autonomous towns and 81 Union Councils (GoP, 2017). Multan has a strategic location, so it has become an important market for trade and commerce.
Historical Attractions of Walled City, Multan
Multan is the best destination to explore various architectural designs in Pakistan, and there is a lot to know about the unfolding stories behind the beautiful city. Particularly, the famous clock tower, locally known as Ghanta Ghar, is one of the popular places to visit in Multan. Other historical places in and around the Walled city of Multan, including Fort Qasim, Mandir Shah Majeed, Tomb of Bahauddin Zakariya, Shrine of Shah Yusuf Gardezi, Mausoleum of Shah Shams Sabzwari Tabrez, Mausoleum of Shah Ali Akbar and Shah Rukn e Alam, which is also an iconic landmark of the city. These historical destinations are just a few kilometres apart, connected by road links.
Similar to the walled city of Lahore, Multan’s inner city is also fenced by an ancient wall constructed in 1756 AD, and it is deteriorating with time due to government ignorance. Furthermore, majestic gates such as Lohari gate, Haram Gate, Bohar Gate, Delhi Gate, Dolat Gate and Pak Gate welcome tourists to the Walled City. These gates are the most prominent historical attractions in Multan. Though the city’s ancient past holds amazing secrets, it makes the inner city one of the most populous places to visit.
Important Road Links Nearby
Multan’s old city area is located in the heart of the city and surrounded by many important road links. Some of the major roads linking to historical places include Baba Safra Road, Masoom Shah Road, Hussain Agahi Road, Hafiz Jamal Road, Humayun Road, Hassan Parwana Road, and Akbar Road. In addition, the nearest station of Multan’s Metro bus, the city’s most pertinent public transport network, is just a distance of 9-minute drive from its old locality.
In addition to cultural and historical destinations, there are also various modern buildings such as Nishtar Medical College, the University Campus, the famous clock tower building of the Multan Municipal Corporation and the State bank of Pakistan. Also, recreational places to pay a visit, such as Multan Stadium, Company Bagh in the cantonment, and Qasim Bagh in the Multan Fort, are present in the national interest in promoting tourism.
Famous Food Items in the Multan
Multan is well known as the city of mangoes for a reason. It produces the juiciest and good quality mangoes in the world. Secondly, Multan is famous for its special dessert known as Multani Sohan Halwa, which can be found in most tourist spots. A unique two-step BBQ at Jindu Champ Markaz (ribs and BBQ) is the right choice in the area of ghanta Ghar. Apart from these, international fast food chains are to be found around the high court area in the cantonment. There are also some famous local tasty restaurants like Dera Adda, Uptown eateries, Zanzibar, Nawab da hotel and many other small restaurants (dabbas) to enjoy the taste of local cuisines.
What to Buy in Multan?
Multan is famous for various types of souvenirs such as Multani Shoes (khussa), embroidery work, costume clothes for ladies or kurtas for men, and painted and glazed earthen pottery. Camel skin products and carpets are available in the narrow, colourful bazaars.
All these items can be found in the main shopping centres of Multan, which include Bazar Hussain Agahi, Chowk Bazar, Bohar gate, and Lohari gate; Pak gate Bazar in the old city and cantonment shopping area is famous for buying cultural and modern entities.
Tourism Potential in Multan City
Multan is the city of many historical and cultural places of greater value based on the religious epicentre, such as tombs, mosques, and palaces. However, the maximum potential cannot be reached due to flawed provincial tourism policies, lack of resources, economic instability, less priority to tourism promotion, and lack of maintenance and renovation of historical sites. Despite challenges, tourism has been growing in Multan since the development of the motorway (Islamabad to Multan), which brings ease and increases the accessibility of tourists to explore “Multan, the city of history and architecture”. Plus, many good quality hotels and resorts utilise online platforms to highlight the culture and architecture and attract tourists worldwide. The best way to experience the city is to visit the shrines, stroll in the parks, discover the old city, go boating on the lake and feast on the local cuisine.