Saturday, February 24, 2024

Road Trip Sialkot to Multan

Road trips are joyful, enlightening and mind opener. One must find time and gather strength to manage to go onto a road trip, see the nature, see the places, meet people, and admire the beauty of Almighty. It is good for personality and it increases knowledge. Sitting all day every day in homes or on office chairs and doing the same usual work for hours and hours like zombies makes you boring, unthankful and most importantly ungrateful. During traveling, if the food and facilities you are having are not nice, it’s all right because it will teach you how better you have in your home. And if the food and facilities are good, it’s helpful, because it will urge you to make improvement in your way of living back at hometown, so it’s a win win game.

Recently I have the experience to go onto a road trip. It was long but not that long, mainly the places were new so that’s why seems long. It was a pleasant experience. The places were all beautiful, the people were all friendly, the weather was hot, but that’s ok because it was expected to be hot.

Multan is about 465 kilometres away from Sialkot in south of Punjab (the distance from our starting and end point was around 525 kilometres). It’s Pakistan’s 5th most populous metropolitan city. It has an area of 133 square kilometres. The city is located on the bank of the Chenab River, in the geographic center of the country. It’s known as city of Sufi and Saints because there are many tombs and shrines scattered all around the city. Famous tombs are like tombs of Sher-Shah-Suri and Baha-ud-din Zakariya.

The journey started from Sialkot early in the morning around 6:30 am. The weather was nice, partially cloudy and partially sunny throughout the way. The roads were clear in the morning but we maintained a certain moderate speed. Upon reaching Gujranwala, traffic welcomed us first than the annoying smell, probably coming out of chemical factories. After passing Gujranwala, Kamoke and near Kala-Shah-Kaku, the atmosphere got better. From Kala-Shah-Kaku, took right turn on to M2 Motorway, bypassing Lahore which landed us on the Multan Road. There was an annoying traffic jam on M2 Motorway due to ongoing maintenance works, which wasted about 15 minutes straight. The immediate shock after leaving motorway was mad traffic of other-end of Lahore city, it was a working day and office time, so everybody was in rush. After crossing the Manga Mandi the road started clearing a little bit. The N5 National Highway is in good condition, but not as good as Motorway. It’s full of surprises though, you’ll never know when a fine cut pit come from nowhere in front of you and you’ll have to save your vehicle from knocking into it.

Mentioning the big towns, then comes the Bhai Pheru and then Pattoki. There’s really nice greenery throughout Pattoki because of so many plant nurseries along both sides of the road, spreading over many kilometres distance. Seems like they supply plants to the whole north-east Punjab region, most of the plants’ varieties were tropical plants, definitely imported, but there were native plants as well.

Going further, there comes Renala Khurd and then Okara. N5 Highway passes close to Okara railway station and one can see the the trains from the roads. Nothing special about Okara, only a sad thought came into mind, the news on TV about the fake milk factories of Okara, felt sorry for Okara. Punjab doesn’t need fake milk, it has so much real milk to supply, if properly managed it can supply milk to the whole country and even export a lot.

Then comes the Sahiwal, one of very important cities of the Punjab, it is famous for healthy livestock, especially highly productive milk producing Sahiwal Buffaloes. It is one of big cities of Punjab. Main businesses here are livestock and large scale agriculture. It is also a center marketplace of hundreds of small towns and villages, locally known as Chakks (Chakk No. 33, Chakk No. 45, etc.). Chakk means village, and each Chakk is recognised by its unique number.

After 15 minutes of drive from Sahiwal, there is small city known as Harappa. It’s small but has international fame. It’s a place of an ancient archaeological site, the Harappa Civilization. It was in our plan to visit the site and see what’s there. So we took a right turn from highway toward Harappa.

You need to leave the N5 Highway to visit the Harappa site, it’s about 8 kilometres away from highway turn point. After 2 kilometres there’s a railway station of Harappa, and from the railway station its only 6 kilometres to the Harappa Museum. The way to archaeological site passes through the museum. The museum is new and underdevelopment. At the time we visited, one part of the museum was undergoing development works. There are number of artefacts displayed in the museum, not many because most of the finding have been either destroyed or misplaced due to locals’ interference in the site area from many centuries. During British occupation era, British archaeologists and artefact thieves took / stole many important things from the site, many of which are at display at British Museum, London. –– Furthermore, the Harappa was located in the middle of two rivers, so was highly vulnerable to floods, and the floods from many centuries have wiped away many of its ancient historical traces. Now the both rivers have changed their paths and are flowing several kilometres away from the site but the damage has been made. The archaeologists have tried their best to find and have dug out as many artefacts as possible to recreate, depict and elaborate the way of living of the ancient civilization. The language written on the Harappa artefacts is unknown to experts, so they can’t figure out the meaning of it, but from the artefacts, city architecture, location and other findings prove that the Harappa people were very organised and advanced compared to their time and compare to the other civilizations of the South Asia of that era. Their way of living was similar to another ancient civilization of Indus valley named Mohenjo-Daro which has same importance like Harappa, because both existed the same time and there are proves that both civilization used to interact with each other through trade and knowledge sharing. It is also considered that probably both civilizations ware destroyed around same time in the history and maybe of same reason. That is why Harappa museum has many artefacts from Mohenjo-Daro site displayed in the shelves.


Mound AB point. A point with a water well, considered a public bath area. It is located in the center of the ancient Harappa city. It is one of the 8 found water wells at Harappa site.

There are skeletons found in the graveyards of the site, prove that Harappa people used to bury their deads instead of burning. Maybe it was a luxury for rich people, or maybe a punishment for the unlucky, can’t say for sure, because there are not many skeletons found as there should be. Maybe they got decomposed after thousands of years of decomposition process, and only the well preserved skeleton have been able to survive to the present. Viewing the bones and structure of the skeletons, body, width, height, they look pretty normal, just like normal Harappa people of the present time.


Ancient Harappa site, seems like a residential area with houses, shops and streets.

Findings prove that Harappa people used to use and trade in gold, copper and precious stones, they had tools like axe, hammer, knife, pin, needle, etc. made of copper, there are no traces of use of steel or iron, only copper, gold, wood and stones. Possibly rich people used to wear jewellery of gold & copper and poor community used to wear jewellery made of stones and clay. There are some bangles and necklaces found, made of clay. Harappa people also used to hunt, there found some bows, harpoons and arrows as well, made of copper. The important thing to notice is that there are some precious stones found from the site which can only be found in specific areas of Pakistan, from the far away regions like Skardu, Chitral, Koh Suleman, Baluchistan, etc. this proves that Harappa people were trading with other ancient communities of the region, or they were advanced enough to travel to such far locations by themselves to gather these precious ornaments for their collection.

The Harappa site is recently protected by a boundary wall from the front and further work is under progress to preserve it better. There are pathways within the site area to guide the tourists to go to excavated sites and sign boards erected at different locations with description printed on them, explaining the importance and meanings of the findings. It is good to see such development work in progress but sad at the same time that so much has been lost due to past negligence.

There is a small canteen at the beginning of the site area which serves limit number of refreshments for the guests, only burgers, cold drinks and tea. We had our lunch from the canteen. The cook was a friendly old man, he was very dedicated to his work, he took so much time in shaking the omelettes that I had to interfere and told him to stop and start frying it. It was fun. The lunch was good and refreshing, it gave us the energy to continue the journey.

After Harappa, there comes Chichawatni. It’s also a big city of southern Punjab. Its famous for its large man made forest, viewable from N5 Highway on the right side of the road, continues for many kilometres. It definitely has a good impact over city’s atmosphere and weather in general. Other cities should also adopt this idea and grow as much as trees around cities to maintain cool & freshly atmoshpere, aesthetic beauty and safe heaven for wildlife to flourish.

Leaving Chichawatni, passing through Mian Channu and Kacha Khuh, there comes the Khanewal, one of the biggest cities of southern Punjab, and main junction before Multan city. Roads lead to many directions from Khanewal, it also has huge railway junction leading tracks toward various directions.

Quickly passing through Khanewal, there comes the Multan, the 5th biggest city of Pakistan. Before entering the city, first a road construction site welcomed us, then a long traffic jam, wasting about 20 minutes. As we entered in the city territory, it was alright, the roads are nice, there are many flyovers passing through many road junctions relieving the traffic load. Multan is a new city now, developed and improving. The old city is still old but everything else around old city is contemporary. We reached our destination around 5:45 pm, safe and cheerful. The whole journey completed in 11.5 hours, with 2 traffic jams and 3 general stops – one for tea – second for Harappa which costing 1.5 hours and third for water/refreshment.

The next day, one of our hosts offered us to visit the two ‘must visit sites’ of Multan, the Chenab river bank and the Multan Fort. So first we went for the Chenab bank, it is about 25/30 Km away from the cantonment area, the drive was nice and smooth. Although Chenab also flows near Sialkot where its wide and gorgeous, but here near Multan, its huge, wide and deep, because before reaching Multan it also carries waters of two other important rivers of the Punjab, the River Jhelum and Ravi, so here Chenab is full of water.  The water temperature is bit warmer as compare to near Sialkot, because Sialkot is close to Jammu hills.

The River bank is like a picnic spot, undeveloped but a nice place for families’ visits, there were many stalls of Pakoras and fried fish. Camel men were also waiting for customers to take ride on their camels, they charge reasonable. I had my camel ride with our host’s kids. The kids were all frightened and cheerful at the same time. It was fun. The camel was in good health.


Lovely Chenab river bank near Multan.

Returning from Chenab, we went to Multan Fort. It’s not like a Fort anymore, more like a hill standing high up in the middle of the city, and the whole city is way low around it. There is no fort building or any historical building except a 700 year old tomb of Baha-ud-din Zakria and another tomb of his son. The ancient building of Multan fort is no more, destroyed by foreign invaders several time, and the remains were not been taken care by the governments before and after Partition. Now there is only a wide park for public amusement, a small museum like building and 3 story tall building, more like a tower building from there you can see the whole Multan city, old and new.

Baha-ud-din Zakria Tomb at Multan Fort

Tomb of Saint Baha-ud-din Zakria at Multan Fort

There are many things and locations to see in Multan, but our short visit didn’t let us see more than two. Looking forward to visit again and hopefully will visit other historically important sites of the city. It was a pleasant experience visiting Multan.

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Category: Travel

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