Multan is one of the oldest cities in the subcontinent having a lot of historical significance. It was built in the east of the Chenab River and subdued by Alexander the Great. Being a commercial hub, the city attracted many Sufi mystics and also suffered from many attacks and sieges over the centuries. Multan has a lot of cultural and religious significance as it was dominated by people of different religions, like Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs and ruled by different ethnic rulers like the Mughals, Afghans, and British. Its skyline is dominated by grand and innumerable tombs that reflect all shades of Islam and other religions. Currently, majority of the people in Multan are Muslims, however, the city does have significant Hindu and Sikh communities. Hence, there are many temples and gurdwaras in the city. Since tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors globally and in Pakistan, and considering the number of historical sites in Multan, it is important to protect and promote them for tourism in the city.
Historical sites in Multan
Multan is home to many old forts, tombs of renowned saints, and many other historical sites, which are enough to keep the tourist busy for multiple days. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Multan are:
Ruins of Multan Fort
Multan fort is an ancient landmark built between 1000 BC to 800 BC. It was considered the most secure fort in the sub-continent for defence purposes but eventually fell to the British Raj. Today only its ruins are left. The fort is in the middle of the city and provides a wonderful view of the whole city. Within the fort are 30 towers, a mosque, a temple, a palace and various famous gates. Parks and handicraft shops are made nearby for tourist attractions, and plans are underway to renovate some parts of the fort.
Gates of the Old Walled City
There are 6 gates in the city carrying different historical significance: Pak Gate, Haram Gate, Delhi Gate, Doulat Gate, Bohar Gate and Lohari Gate. All these gates had different purposes in the old times and now people specially visit to learn more about the history and culture. For example, the Delhi gate is named because it faces Delhi in India, and the Mughals used to enter through this gate. Another historical gate was named ‘Lohari’ as many blacksmiths lived outside this gate and still have their own workshops there. Some gates are named after saints and Sufis, while Bohar gate is named as there were a lot of Bohar trees outside this gate facing towards the river Ravi.
Mosques and Shrines
Multan is famous for its association with saints, Sufis and Fakirs. Sawi mosque is the oldest mosque in Multan, situated outside the Lohari gate. It still exists but does not have a roof, and most of its decorations have been damaged over time. Behind the old ruins of the Multan fort, the first landmark visible is the majestic dome of Shah Rukn-e-Alam’s Shrine. He was one the most famous Sufi saints of Multan. Every year, around 100,000 pilgrims come from around the world to visit the shrine. The beautiful historical building decorated with blue stones epitomises ancient Islamic architecture. In recent times, it has been renovated and maintained, hence, many people visit it often. Apart from these famous shrines, there are several other shrines of famous Sufis and saints in history and have become a tourist attraction as people come there to pay respects. Some of these are the Tomb of Shah Gardez and the Shrine of Baha-ud-Din Zakariya.
Some of the most popular and known sites visited by many people are the temples of Hindus. The most important temple of Hindus was the ‘Sun Temple’ and which is mentioned in many books. However, there are only ruins of it now. Yet many Hindus still come for the pilgrimage purposes.
Some of the other sites to visit in Multan are:
Patrick Alexander Vans Agnew Monument
Potential of Tourism in Multan
Multan has several heritage sites that carry religious and cultural values. Despite exploration, the full potential cannot be reached due to many reasons such as lack of resources, economic instability, less priority to tourism and discrimination against minorities. Multan is a major city in Pakistan, and it is important to protect its heritage. Also, tourism has been growing in Multan since the development of the motorway from Islamabad to Multan. The development of roads has made them more accessible, fast, and secure. Many good quality hotels and resorts built in Multan can easily be booked online. Many foreigners prefer to pre-book online, and this facility attracts more tourists to visit. The hotels are affordable and near historical places. The high-end and international standard hotels cost more, yet people are willing to pay for a good quality experience. Several development projects have recently been approved in Multan to promote tourism, as this area has a lot of potential.
Currently, IMARAT Group, one of Pakistan’s leading real estate groups, has announced the construction of its fourth hotel, Fairfield, by Marriott in DHA Multan. The MoU ceremony was conducted in the IMARAT Headquarters under the IMARAT Hospitality Project. These hospitality projects aim towards promoting the tourism industry in the country while generating employment opportunities and improving the standard of customer service. Marriott International Brand is known worldwide, and Fairfield, the company’s second-largest brand, presents an opportunity to develop an upper-midscale hotel powered by top revenue generating and operational engines. It will be the first Fairfield hotel opening in Pakistan, and since Pakistan is a developing country, it is highly efficient and economical for international tourists. This project is aligned with developing the real estate sector and promoting tourism. By collaborating with international organisations, the sector will be reshaped, and Pakistan will benefit in many ways.
To conclude, there is a high potential for promoting tourism in the historical city of Multan. Pakistan is blessed to have a rich culture, traditions and history, which must be further explored. It is a good opportunity for real estate developers such as the IMARAT group to work towards hospitality and tourism. It will benefit the country and also the residents of Multan. It will create jobs for many people while attracting tourists and foreign direct investments. The revenue generated can be used to renovate the heritage sites and construct more hotels to make the trip of tourists safe and comfortable. Economic growth will be eventually achieved through such hospitality projects in the city.