History Of Multan Through The Centuries:
(200 - 1000 AD)
The earliest history of Multan fades away in the mists of mystery and mythology.Most of the historians, however agree that Multan beyond any doubt, is the same Maii-us-than which was conquered by Alexander who faced here tremendous resistance. He was fatally wounded while fighting to capture the citadel. For the first time his sacred shield, which he had taken from the temple of Illion, Athena, and which he used always to be carried before him in all his battles, rolled in dust while he fell unconscious on the ground with blood gushing out from his wounds. But that was the scene which inspired the Macedonians and seeing their king in that state they launched a lightening attack and captured the citadel without any further harm to Alexander. Alexander, however, never recovered fully well after this battle and died, on his way back, at Babylon.
History is silent for more than six centuries that is until 454 A.D. when White Huns, the barbarous nomads, stormed Multan under the banner of their leader Torman. After a fierce fight they conquered but did not stay for long and Hindu rule continued once again for about two hundred years.
Subsequent history of Multan is well established and more than sufficient light has been thrown on the cross section by world famous travelers, writers and historians who visited Multan including the Chinese historian Hiuen Tsang in 641 A. D. The Chinese traveller found the circuit of the city about 30 li which is equal to five miles. He described, "the soil rich and fertile and mentioned about eight Deva temples. He also mentioned that people do not believe in Buddha rule. The city is thickly populated-the grand temple dedicated to the Sun is very magnificent and profusely decorated-The image of Sun Deva als0 known as "Mitra" is cast in yellow gold and ornamented with rare gems. Its divine insight mysteriously manifested and its spiritual powers made plain to all and so on".
Multan was first visited by the Muslim arms during the reign of the Khalifa Abu Bekr, in 44 Hijri (664 A.D.), when Mohalib, the Arab General, afterwards an eminent commander in Persia and Arabia, penetrated to the ancient capital of the Maili. He returned with many prisoners of war. The expedition, however, seems to have been directed towards exploration of the country as no attempt was apparently made to retain the conquest.
Mohammad Bin Qasim, the great Muslim general invaded this subcontinent in 712 A. D., and conquered Sind and Multan. The city was conquered after a fierce and long battle which lasted for seven days. Many distinguished officers of the Muslim army sacrificed their lives in the battle, but the Hindu army was defeated.
The author of 'Jawahar-al-Bahoor' ( the famous Arabic History) writes in his book "that Multan at that time was known as the House of Gold. There was a great Mandir which was also called as the Sun Mandir. It was so big that six thousand resident worshippers were housed therein. Thousands of people from every corner of the country used to visit this place to perform their Hajj (Pilgrimage). They used to circle round it and get their beards and heads shaved off as a mark of respect.
In the periods, of Caliph Mansoor, and Mostasim Bilia, Multan was attacked by Arabs several times.
Ibn Khurdaba described in his book, "The book of Roads and Kingdoms", "Multan being two months journey from Zarani the capital of Sijistan, by the name of Farj because Mohammad, Son of Qasim, Lieutenant of At-Hajjaj, found vast quantities of gold in the city, which was forwarded to the Caliph's treasury so it was called by the Arabs the House of Gold".
Al-Masudi of Baghdad who visited the valley of the Indus in 303 A.H. (915 A.D.) mentioned about Multan in his book, "The Meadows of Gold", that "Multan is seventy five Sindhian Farsangs from Mansura. It is one of the strongest frontier places of the Musulmans and in its neighborhood there are a hundred and twenty thousand towns and villages", Al-Masudi also mentioned about the idol and explained as to how people living in the distant parts of country travel to Multan to perform pilgrimage and in fulfillment of their woes and religious obligations, they make offerings of money, precious stones, perfumes of every kind and aloe wood before it. Both tstakhari of Istakhar, or Persepolis, who wrote about the middle of the tenth century 340 A.H. (951 A.D.) and Ibn Haukal of Baghdad who based his work on that of Istakhari, give glowing accounts of Multan which they described as a large, fortified and impregnable city, about half the size of Mansura, the ancient Muslim capital of Sindh. They also mentioned about the idol of Multan as being held in great veneration by Hindus who flocked to it from all parts of India.
Sultan Sabuktageen, the Afghan King conquered Multan, but after four years, that is, in 980 A.D. it was conquered by a Sardar of the Karamti Tribe who ruled it for some time.
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