The Multan Sun Temple, also known as the Aditya Sun Temple, was an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Surya also called Aditya, which was located in the city of Multan, now in Punjab, Pakistan.
The original Sun Temple at Multan is said to have been built by Samba, son of Krishna, to gain relief from the symptoms of his leprosy more than 5000 years ago.
Samba, the son of Krishna and Jambavati (daughter of Jambavantha), was sent to exile to get treated for his leprosy, which he got due to a curse after an incest act.
The Bhavishya Purana, Skanda Purana and Varaha Purana narrate that some of Krishna’s junior wives were infatuated with handsome Samba. One wife Nandini disguised herself as Samba’s wife and embraced him. For this act of incest, Krishna cursed Samba to be inflicted with leprosy and his wives to be kidnapped by Abhira robbers after his death.
The Samba Purana consists the narrative of Samba’s getting infected by leprosy, after being cursed by his father and consequently getting cured by worshipping Surya in the temple constructed by him in Mitravana on the banks of the Chandrabhaga. He was advised by the sage, Kataka, to worship the sun god to cure his aliment. Samba underwent penance for 12 years in Mitravana near the shores of Chandrabhaga, which is situated 3 km east of the Sun temple of Konark, and 30 km from Puri.
Until recent years Chandrabhaga was considered a place of natural cure for lepers.
Both the original Konark Sun Temple and the Multan Sun Temple at Multan, earlier known as Kashyapapura, have been attributed to Samba.
The Sun Temple is also mentioned by Greek Admiral Skylax, who passed through the area in 515 BC. Multan, earlier known as Kashyapapura, and its temple are also mentioned by Herodotus.
Hsuen Tsang is said to have visited the temple in 641 AD, and described an idol of the Sun God made of pure gold with eyes made from large red rubies.
Gold, silver and gems were abundantly used in its doors, pillars and shikhara. Thousands of Hindus regularly went to Multan to worship the Sun God. Hsuen Tsang is also said to have seen several devadasis (“dancing girls“) in the temple.
Travelers like Hsuen Tsang, Istakhari and others, mentioned other idols in their travelogue, saying that that the idols of Shiva and Buddha were also installed in the temple.
After the conquest of Multan by the Umayyad Caliphate in the 8th century AD, under the leadership of Muhammad bin Qasim, the Sun Temple became a source of great income for the Muslim government.
Muhammad bin Qasim ‘made captive of the custodians of the budd, numbering 6000‘ and looted its wealth, sparing the idol — which was made of wood, covered with red leather and two red rubies for its eyes and wearing a gem-studded gold crown — ‘thinking it best to leave the idol where it was, but hanging a piece of cow’s flesh on its neck by way of mockery‘.
Muhammd bin Qasim built a mosque close to the temple, the most crowded place in the centre of the bazaar. Later, the temple was also used a bargaining chip to blackmail any Hindu kings heading towards Multan. Whenever a Hindu king was about to invade, the Muslim ruler would threaten to destroy the idol, which apparently made the Hindu king withdraw.
Al-Baruni visited Multan in the 10th Century AD and left a glowing description of it; however, the temple is said to have been finally destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026 AD.
Al-Baruni wrote that the temple in Multan was never visited by Hindu pilgrims in the 11th century because it was completely destroyed by that time and never rebuilt.
The city of Multan got its name from the Sanskrit name for the Sun idol and Sun temple, Mulasthana.