Multan is a city in south central Punjab province. It is built just east of the Chenab River. About 966 km from Karachi and more or less right in the center of the country lie the ancient city of Multan. Multan, the 'City of Pirs and Shrines' is a prosperous city of bazaars, mosques, shrines and superbly designed tombs.
A circular road around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen gates. Some of the imposing structures of these gates are still preserved. In the bazaars of the Old City one still comes across tiny shops where craftsmen can be seen busy turning out master-pieces in copper, brass, silver as well as textiles in the traditional fashion.
The old city has narrow colorful bazaars full of local handicrafts and narrow winding lanes. There are many places of historical, cultural and recreational interest in the city.
Multan is a commercial and industrial center, it is connected by road a rail with Lahore and Karachi and by air with Karachi, Quetta, and Faisalabad. Industries include fertilizer, soap, and glass factories; foundries; cotton, woolen and silk textile mills; flour, sugar and oil mills; and a large thermal-power station.
It is famous for its handicrafts (ceramics and camel-skin work) and cottage industries. There are hospitals, public gardens, and several colleges affiliated with the University of the Punjab. The University of Multan was established in 1975. Large, irregular suburbs have grown outside the old walled town, and two satellite towns have been set up. The numerous shrines within the old city offer impressive examples of workmanship and architecture.
The Shams-e Tabriz shrine is built almost entirely of sky-blue engraved glazed bricks. That of Shah Rukn-e Alam (Tughlaq period) has one of the biggest domes in Asia. The shrine of Sheikh Yusuf Gardez is masterpiece of the Multani style. Other shrines include the Pahladpuri Temple and the Idgah Mosque (1735).
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 neighbourhood 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 fulfilment 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, fortif ied and impregnable city, about half the size of Mansura, the ancient Muslim capital of Sind. 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.
Multan, however, lost its very important position as soon as the British stronghold over the sub-continent grew stronger and stronger. Although peace prevailed in the region but no real progress was made. When independence was achieved in 1947 Multan was a forgotten region. There was no industry; no higher and professional educational Institutions, no high standard hospitals; so much so that there was not even a single recreation park in the whole of the city. It looked more like a town though its population was nearly one lakh. The site of the Old Fort was in ruins. Thorny bushes and ditches were in plenty whispering the awful tale of its ruination, Majority of the roads were unmetalled and the sewerage system too defective to explain. The history of the district since independence is mainly connected with the expansion of facilities except a few minor changes such as one of its districts, that is, D.G. Khan has been declared as the Divisional Headquarter and some of its Tehsils such as Vehari as the new District etc.