Hussain Agahi Multan: Ancient and Modern State

Hussain Agahi Multan is an ancient bazaar in Multan city, which has been a hotspot for people for a very long time and continues to be, unabated. The bazaar is renowned for goods sold at affordable rates and is therefore a hot favorite for locals who look to buy on a budget.

The main entrance to the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar, known as Hussain Agahi Chowk, is situated in front of the tomb of a great saint or Auliya Allah of Multan, called Shah Rukn-e-Alam. The tomb of this saint is the iconic figure for the city of Multan, with its huge tomb called Rukn-e-alam, the Pillar of the World. On another side of the Hussain Agahi Chowk is the well-known Chowk Ghanta Ghar, meaning Clock Tower Intersection.

Route for Muharram Processions

The Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar is also the route for Muharram processions, also known as Juloos, which commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain AS on the 10th of Muharram as well as on the day marking 40 days after Ashura, called Chehlum or Arbaeen in Arabic. There are numerous processions that pass the entrance to the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar on both of the revered days, since people from all parts of Multan travel to the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar to participate into the Juloos and pay their respects to Imam Hussain AS.

Legend of Saint Hussain Agahi

It is said that the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar is named after another saint of the city of Multan, called Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah Bukhari, better known as Hussain Agahi, who himself was named after Imam Hussain (AS) son of Imam Ali (AS).

The term Agahi literally means “awareness”. The saint was given this title because he was renowned for giving the people of the sub-continent, then largely Non-Muslim, AWARENESS or Agahi about the person and stature of His Excellency, Hazrat Imam Hussain [A], Grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad [SAWW]. Since he himself was named in the Imam’s [A] name, therefore he had a special inclination towards Him. He was renowned for giving the locals a lot of information and knowledge about Syed-ush-Shohodah Imam Hussain [A] and his legendary fight along with his family and friends against the tyrannical forces of Yazid (L) in the plains of Karbala.

According to the legend, the saint Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah Bukhari, had a very strong business acumen and could therefore help any person initiate a business that paid off well! When his devotees invoked his help for starting up a business concern, he would aid them make their business a success story with his spiritual-cum-business expertise! He would be attentive to the details, so much so, that he would even point out the exact location in the bazaar where the shop should be setup! That’s something now.

This historical reference gives insight into how the bazaar now sprawls over a huge area, since every new entrepreneur in Multan would have been interested in running a successful business at the time of the saint and even afterwards, and what better place to start with than in Hussain Agahi, with the help from the Hussain Agahi saint? The length and breadth of the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar seems to have a direct co-relation with the Saint Hussain Agahi’s business acumen and the interest of his entrepreneur class of devotees in taking benefit out of it.

It is a pity however that the mausoleum of the saint is a forgotten place now, as compared to other popular mausoleums in Multan which are visited very frequently by the locals, as well as by people from all other parts of Pakistan. Many people don’t even know about the saint after whom the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar was named. Looks like the profitable transactions made by the entrepreneurs in the bazaar have made them forget their duty of paying homage to the saint who made it all possible for their elders, when they sought his help in his age and era. Abundance of wealth can probably be intoxicating and bring about forgetfulness at times, no?

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What Can You Shop for in Hussain Agahi Multan Bazaar?

There are all kinds of shops in Hussain Agahi Multan since the bazaar itself is huge, starting from the main road and spreading out well within the walled city in Multan. There are shops for handicrafts, consumer electronics, cloth-houses, crockery, super stores, staple items, sports, you name it.

Target Location for Handicrafts in Multan City

Handicrafts are a special attention of the bazaar as many of the craftsmen selling their art unique to Multan are located at different places inside of the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar. So, many people, including and especially tourists, scan the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar in search for handicrafts local to Multan. This bazaar is probably the first thing that comes to their mind if they make up their minds of seeking to buy some lovely “Made in Multan” handicrafts to take back home as souvenirs to loved ones.

Understandably, one reason why Hussain Agahi Multan would be a preferred location for the craftsmen to set up their shops would be the low-cost of rent for outlets in this bazaar. Craftsmen may be able to make good money abroad but in the area local to their art, there is presumably a limited amount of sales that they can make and therefore the most sensible strategy on their part in such a scenario, would be to keep their expenses at a minimum. Hence the logical choice of the Hussain Agahi bazaar for opening up outlets to sell their works of art.

The Rich History of “Mawhallah Kamungaraan”

Inside Hussain Agahi Multan is a locality known as Mawhallah Kamungaraan meaning the neighborhood of Kamungaraan. Kamungaraan is a term belonging to the Urdu Language and means makers of bows. Bow making was an art which was practiced in this locality hundreds of years ago until as late as the Mughal era. The bows and also arrows made in Mawhallah Kamungaraan were exported the world over. It is even said that the bows and arrows used in the Battle of Karbala were made in Mawhallah Kamungaraan located in Hussain Agahi Multan.

However, as of now, it is said that this historical art is practiced no more in Mawhallah Kamungaraan. It is believed that the demise of this art started when the Britons came to the Indian sub-continent and brought with them gunpowder guns which they used tactically to defeat the Muslims and gain power. Since the guns were superior weapons in the nature of their impact on the enemy, therefore the demand for bows and arrows gradually went down and with it went the art and its practitioners of the renowned Mawhallah Kamungaraan.

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Hussain Agahi Multan Godree

On another side of Hussain Agahi Multan is situated what is locally known as “Godree”. This is a place where all kinds of pets are sold to the public. Many people in Multan are fond of pets and therefore this is one place where they can come and buy their favorite pets. There are pigeons, parrots, hens, turkeys, dogs, Persian cats, basically a whole list of pets for sale there.

A special market for pet lovers is set up on Friday and Sunday in Hussain Agahi Multan Godree when buyers and sellers from all over the city come to exchange money for pets and vice versa. Many individuals who keep pets at home bring them up at the market to earn some hard cash for the hard-work they do in bringing up the pets, which is an interesting exercise in itself.

Qila Qasim Bagh Overlooking Hussain Agahi Multan

Overlooking Hussain Agahi Multan is Qila Qasim Bagh which is uphill and gives a wonderful view of the city. This Qila used to be a cantonment in the old times and housed the army men of the ruler of Multan of the time.

It is narrated time and again that the legendary soldier of Islam, Muhammad-bin-Qasim housed his army in Qila Qasim Bagh when he came to the sub-continent and attacked Multan, conquering it successfully. He chose Qila Qasim Bagh to house his soldiers as he found this place to be most appropriate for the task. This might be because Qila Qasim Bagh was already a cantonment area and had all sorts of facilities available for the use and convenience of soldiers.

The Qila also has the old cricket stadium of Multan called Qasim Bagh Stadium. The stadium was built years ago but since it was small therefore, cricket matches are now conducted in the new stadium called Multan International Cricket Stadium located off Vehari road.

The Qila Qasim Bagh stadium was all over the news last year when around seven [7] people were killed in a stampede that occurred in the jalsa of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf  [PTI] in the stadium. The incident occurred while people were returning to their homes after attending a jalsa of PTI led by Imran Khan and others.

Masjid Ali Muhammad Situated Right Next to Hussain Agahi Multan

Masjid Ali Muhammad, also known as Masjid Wali Muhammad, is located on Chowk Bazaar which is situated almost adjacent to Hussain Agahi Multan. This is a very ancient mosque as it was established back in 1757 by the then governor of Multan, Ali Muhammad Khan. The mosque has Persian quotes and art over its entrance as well as inside of it. It is said that the mosque has witnessed the Sikh era as well as the entire era of the British East India Company rule in the sub-continent.

It is also said that when the Sikhs conquered Multan, they took control of the mosque forcefully and made it a repository for their own sacred book called the Granth. Also, they created an office for their local commissioner inside of the mosque.

After the Sikhs lost control of the reins of power to the British, the British returned Masjid Ali Muhammad to the Muslims but at the same time, following the footsteps of the Sikhs, they created a station for their own local officer there.

As of today however, Masjid Ali Muhammad is now fully operational and people from different schools of thought come and pray there to the Almighty in His sacred house.

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Advantages and Drawbacks of Hussain Agahi Multan Hand In Hand

Along with its benefits to the public, Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar also has a host of problems associated with it. One is that it is very congested, which is why it is not a preferred area for those who wish to shop with ease.

Traffic jams occur frequently on the roads of the bazaar, especially during evenings when the flow of shoppers to the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar is at its peak. Parking is a problem, and is available only at parking lots situated up the Qila Qasim Bagh, which is an effortful walk up the steep slope while returning to rides after shopping.

Two, there is a lot of over-crowdedness in the bazaar, especially in areas away from the main road and into the walled city.

Here, the passage is more or less twice the width of a wide footpath than a road. People say this is due to the inheritance of the city from Hindus who lived there pre-partition. When it came to building roads for instance, they made them only as wide as would be necessary for people to pass easily on foot. This is so that a minimal amount of bricks were used in the construction and the overall cost of building could be as low as possible. This had to do with the “cost-saving-cum-miser-mindset” of the Hindus, people say. This is a widespread notion in Multan that explains why the walled city is so narrow and congested. This however is not confirmed to be true but is something which is believed by the people.

So you never know that while you are walking amidst a horde of people on the narrow passages, a motorbike would come from behind you or from your front and you will have to watch your way, time and again, time and again. This is the most common occurrence and at times can be a source of irritation for shoppers who visit the bazaar. However, those who shop there regularly are used to this and they mostly shop without giving much notice to it.

The sizzling heat of Multan can make matters worse for shoppers if they have had the bad fortune of venturing into Hussain Agahi Multan during the in-famous summer season of Multan! The reason for shopping in such hot and humid weather might be that they need something urgently or that they are tourists and are paying a visit to Multan in summers. Well, if they are tourists, then visiting Multan in summers would not be a wise idea in the first place! However, for some, being shop-aholic might be another reason nevertheless!

Another problem of shopping in Hussain Agahi Multan is that the shops are all haphazardly built with little or no regard for a disciplined construction design. Many of the shops towards the heart of the bazaar are built beneath rotting walled city houses. Some people might even feel danger and fear as they enter them or move around, as if they could collapse prior to warning them!

Good Livelihood for Transporters Too

Relatively speaking, Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar creates a good livelihood for public transporters as well, such as auto rickshaws, wagons, chingchis, etc.  They all roam the entrances to the bazaar in search of a living and do good business there, owing to the frequency of people visiting Hussain Agahi Multan. A wagon route has also been designated by the local transport authority to and from Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar to facilitate the shoppers wishing to travel to the bazaar via cheap public transport.

In spite of the multiple problems plaguing Agahi bazaar, many entrepreneurs continue to do business inside of it because of the habit they have formed of earning from the bazaar. They have probably adjusted to the routine and have no inclination to move to some other bazaar with a much better design and construction. This might also be because of the loyal customer base that they have formed in the bazaar which they do not wish to lose by relocation.

Hussain Agahi Multan Bazaar Outlook Unaltered

Some people are of the opinion that the Hussain Agahi Multan Bazaar has not changed much and maintains almost the same look it did decades ago. This is possibly because of the preference of traders to save costs by not investing in complementary assets of their shops such as better outlooks, parking spaces, wider roads, et cetera. Some say that the Rotki community of Multan, which is mostly uneducated but widely into business, residing primarily in the walled city and adjacent areas, is to blame.

The city district government however definitely has a share in the blame as well because this is the prime responsibility of the city government to upgrade the city’s infrastructure as, where, and when may be necessary. However, the folks at the government-run department project a typical image of the way Pakistani Government Departments are run, with red-tapism and a desire NOT to work for the convenience of the public in general, if you know what I mean. This is true at least as far as the Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar is concerned.

It is true that the outer look of Hussain Agahi Multan bazaar has been more or less the same, at least for decades, with little changes made to alter it. Therefore the bazaar is instantly recognizable, the curves and the inroads that lead to different parts of it. If any individual local to Multan were to visit if after a gap of a number of years even, he would still be able to find his way around in Hussain Agahi Multan Bazaar, nearly as easily as he did before, that’s what i think.

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Syed Owais Ali Zaidy

Syed debuted his career in online writing around five years ago on upwork and has been writing ever since. Other than work, he likes to keep pets, workout at the gym, and follow current affairs.