Multan is known in Pakistan as the city of saints, and it’s easy to see why; the metropolis is studded with scores of shrines paying tribute to pirs, masters, adherents and preachers of the mythical Sufi interpretation of Islam. Sufi monuments aside, Multan is home to a delicious saccharine spin on Punjabi and Pakistani cuisine – sweet toothed visitors rejoice – and if you’re approaching from the north it is the gateway to the Seraiki belt of southern Punjab.
Southern Punjab is a wide open land of farms, river plains and deserts. The climate is harsh; exposed to the elements, this region is warm in the winter and swelters in the hot dusty summer. Bound by the ruggedly barren Balochistan to the southwest, the lonely, scorching Cholistan/Thar desert to the southeast, and the pancake-flat agricultural plains stretching north to Lahore, Multan has for long been somewhat isolated from the rest of Punjab. Perhaps as a result, this region has traditionally been less prosperous than northern Punjab. However the tyranny of the local environs seem to have bred a unique culture of hospitality, ascetic religious devotees and a culinary tradition which makes use of the ingredients available – nuts, dates, mangos are all associated with this area. Add to this the local tongue of Seraiki (a sort of crossover between Punjabi and rural Sindhi), and this region could be one of Pakistan’s most rewarding for the culturally-inclined.