Was it a mere coincidence or was it in the higher scheme of things that Multan was blessed with a large number of holy personalities whose last resting places continue to be the focus of millions of devotees? The answer to this question lies perhaps in the geographical location of this ancient city. Straddling the main route into the Indian subcontinent, the city acted not only as a portal to the huge Indian land mass, but a staging point for those who travelled this way. It was, therefore, logically the best place to establish oneself and spread the message of Islam. While there are many of these holy men resting in eternal peace in and around the city - both known and anonymous, it is paucity of space alone that has forced me to pick just a few as a tribute to all of them and their work in proliferating Gods word. Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria was born at Kot Kehror, near Layyah, around 1170. He came from a family that hailed from the Holy City of Makkah. For 15 years, the Saint moved from place to place to preach Islam, but finally settled in Multan somewhere in 1222. This great man passed away in 1267 and was buried on the high ground near Multan Fort. His mausoleum is an architectural wonder consisting of a square topped by an octagon structure and surmounted by a hemispherical dome. The building was completely ruined during the British siege of Multan in 1848, but was soon restored by the Muslim residents of the city. Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam, known popularly as Rukn e Alam or Pillar of the World, was the grandson of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria. He was born at Multan on Friday, the 26th of November 1251, passed away on Friday, 3rd January 1335, and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of his grandfather, according to his own will. It was after some time that the Saints remains were transferred to the present resting place near his grandfathers last resting place. His tomb was constructed between 1320 and 1324 and is an unmatched example of pre-Moghul architecture that can be seen from miles as one approaches the city from any direction. The structure is octagonal, topped by another octagon that also provides an all-around passage for the Muezzin or the person who renders the call to prayer. This is then surmounted by a hemispherical dome, which is said to be the second largest in the world, after one in Bijapur, India. According to some accounts this structure was erected by Ghiyasuddin Tughlak, when he was the Governor of Depalpur somewhere in early 1320s and was handed to the descendants of Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam by his son Muhammad Bin Tughlak in 1330. The structure was completely renovated in the 1970s and decorated by traditional artisans of Multan. A visit to the area surrounding the two shrines is not only inspiring, but a trip into history. Interestingly, one finds many graves here that belong to the victims of the tragic earthquake that ravaged a part of Quetta City in 1935. The mausoleum of Hazrat Shah Shams Sabzwari, commonly known as Shah Shams Tabrez, is located about half a mile to the east of the Fort site, on the high bank of the old bed of the river. The Saint, a descendant of Imam Jaffer Sadiq, was born in 1165 and passed away in 1276. The tomb is square and topped by a hemispherical dome decorated with glazed tiles. It is regretful that not much is available from records point of view about the Saint, except a few accounts that leave one thirsty for more. Shaikh Syed Abul Hassab Musa Pak Shaheed was the son of Syed Hamid Bakhsh Gilani. He was martyred in 1592 and interred at the foot of his fathers grave in Uch Sharif. It is said that one night the Saints father appeared to one of his grandsons instructing him to remove Hazrat Musa Paks body from his feet and reinter it elsewhere. Following these instructions, the holy man was reburied at Moza Mungay Hatti. After 15 years, the Saints son was once again instructed in a dream to return the body to Multan. This was done and the holy man was finally laid to rest close to one of the old gates of Multan City called Pak Darwaza. It is perhaps this connection of the city with holy men that has lent it a special atmosphere, which in spite of its hot summers and dust storms, attracts droves of people from all over the country. n The writer is a freelance columnist.