Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh: A symbol of the historical splendor of Multan.
In the past, forts were built from a defensive point of view to protect cities or areas from enemy attacks. Similarly, Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh is a major symbol of the antiquity of Multan, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
Multan was the gateway to the subcontinent, through which no invader could advance. The world’s greatest kings, adventurers, and warriors brought their large armies to conquer this fort, but after the conquest, everyone caused severe damage to palaces, courts, barracks, and other properties.
It is said that when Alexander the Great came to Multan, the fort was built of old mud, but his forces could not easily conquer it.
History of Qila Kuhna:
There is no clear history as to when and by whom this fort was built. According to an estimate, the fort of Multan also existed in 2500 BC.
At the beginning of the British period, after excavating up to 40 feet, Sir Alexander Cunningham found the remains of 7,000 years ago. According to him, the old fort of Multan is still standing in the same place where it was at the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion.
In 1853, he carried out archeological excavations in connection with his archeological survey. Over a period of 11 years, they dug two wells at Qila Kuhna, from which rare items of different periods were recovered.
He compiled a list of items recovered at different depths of the wells, keeping in view the different periods. Apart from this, excavations carried out at a depth of 60 feet after the formation of Pakistan also revealed a number of items that can be said to be very old like the fort of Harappa.
Metal coins, bone bangles, various stone objects, clay toys, pottery, bricks of different shapes and sizes, earthen lamps, tobacco pipes, metal Pots, snails, pieces of burnt wood, etc. were recovered.
Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh – Reconstruction:
The fort is also a symbol of the city’s historical, social, political, religious, spiritual, and cultural splendor. The fort was also damaged and renovated in different periods.
In 1640, during the Mughal rule, the fort of Multan was rebuilt by Prince Murad Bakhsh. The fort stands 150 feet above the ground and has a total area of more than one mile.
Situated on a high hill, this fort of Multan used to have an area of miles around. The fort had four gates (Qasim Gate, Khuzri Gate, Ski Gate, and Hariri Gate), but now only the outer gate remains.
A tower was erected near each gate, and in addition to these, 38 more towers were erected, which were guarded by well-armed soldiers at all times to keep an eye on the enemy.
At one time the fort had two fences and the river Ravi flowed around it. The outer fence was a 150-foot-wide earthen embankment, while the inner fence was made of solid brick and was about 35 to 40 feet higher than the outer fence.
To protect the fort, a 26-foot-deep and 40-foot-wide trench were dug around the outer fence, which was constantly filled with water and helped to deter outside invaders.
The fort was unique in its architectural defenses as well as its architectural style. Its inner area was about 6,600 feet. Its inner wall was so wide that many horsemen could run on it.
Three arrows were also made for archery and shelling the enemy. According to one estimate, the walls of the fort were about 40 to 70 feet high and surrounded an area of 6,800 feet.
Shrines in Qila Kuhna Qasim Bagh
The shrines of Hazrat Baha’u’llah Zakaria and Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam at Qila Kuhna are masterpieces of the ancient architecture of the region. Even today, these shrines paint a picture of the historical splendor of the city of Multan.
When Multan came under the rule of Sher Shah Suri in 1541, he built two mosques in the fort, one inside the tomb of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya and the other inside the tomb of Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam.
A small fort-like fort was also built on the inside of the outer walls of the fort, with 30 protective towers, a mosque, a temple, and a palace for the Khawanis.
In 1818, an attack by Ranjit Singh’s forces severely damaged the inner small fort. The invasion of the Sikhs and the British completely destroyed the old fort and thus this historic fort lost its existence in 1848.
At the time of the establishment of Pakistan, there were some traces of the fort walls, which were destroyed with time. Renovation work of the fort started in November 1949 and at the same time, Ibn Qasim Park was built.
Two of the fort’s remnants, the Damdama and the Gallery, still commemorate the splendor of this historic fort, beneath which the secrets of thousands of years of civilization and culture are buried.