Multan (mŏltänˈ) [key], city (1998 pop. 1,182,441), E central Pakistan, in the Punjab, near the Chenab River. It is an important road and rail junction, an agricultural center, and a market for textiles, leather goods, and other products. The city's industries include metalworking, flour, sugar, and oil milling, and the manufacture of textiles, fertilizer, soap, and glass. Multan is also known for its handicrafts, especially pottery and enamel work. One of the Indian subcontinent's oldest cities, Multan derives its name from an idol in the temple of the sun god, a shrine of the pre-Muslim period. The city was conquered (c.326 B.C.) by Alexander the Great, visited (A.D. 641) by the Chinese Buddhist scholar Hsüan-tsang, taken (8th cent.) by the Arabs, and captured by Muslim Turkish conqueror Mahmud of Ghazna in 1005 and by Timur in 1398. In the 16th and 17th cent., Multan enjoyed peace under the early Mughal emperors. In 1818 the city was seized by Ranjit Singh, leader of the Sikhs. The British held it from 1848 until Pakistan achieved independence in 1947. Landmarks include an old fort containing the 14th-century tombs of two Muslim saints.
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