Qutub Minar. Monument in New Delhi, India

Qutub Minar

Monument in New Delhi, India

Qutub Minar Photo © Stefan Rüdiger

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Qutub Minar

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	Minar - Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar - Qutub Minar. Photo by Isriya Paireepairit
The Qutub Minar in Delhi, India, is the second tallest minar (tower) in India, after the Fateh Burj in Chappar Chiri (Wikipedia
	Article) at Mohali in Punjab. At 73 meters in height, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today.

The Qutub Minar, sometimes spelled as Qutb or Qutab Minar, was commissioned in 1192 by the first Sultan of Delhi, Qutbu-ud-Din Aibak, who came from the Mamluk (Wikipedia Article) dynasty. It is not clear whether the Sultan built it to commemorate his victory over the rulers in Delhi, or built it in tribute to the-then Sufi Saint, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. It is an imposing monument and one of the several masterpieces of Moghul architecture in and around Delhi.

History and Construction

Qutbu-ud-Din Aibak laid the foundation for the tower in the late 12th-century, and built the tower to one-fifth the height that it is today with only one storey. The tower was then used by a muezzin (heralder) to announce an Adan (call to prayer for the faithful). Qutbu-ud-Din’s son-in-law and successor, Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish, added three more storeys to it in the early 13th-century. The construction was finally completed, along with some restoration that was required, by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1368, by adding the fifth and the last floor to it.

Four balconies divide the 73 meters tall tower into five equal parts. The first three storeys are constructed with red sandstone which was the mainstay of the Moghul builders to follow. A flight of 379 steps lead up to the topmost balcony. The tower, 14.3 meters in diameter at the base, tapers to 2.7 meters at the top. The difference in the architectural styles, over a couple of centuries, are amply evident. The first three storeys of the tower are constructed with red sandstone. The fourth and the fifth storeys are made of a combination of red sandstone and marble. The minar has been damaged by strikes of lightning and earthquakes several times, and has been repaired each time over the centuries by the rulers of Delhi.

Inscriptions on the tower in Arabic and Nagari indicate that Sikandar Lodhi had made repairs and renovations to the tower in 1360. Major R. Smith of the British Army, in 1829, also did his bit in the restoration and conservation of the minar.

Qutub Minar and Iron Pillar, Delhi - Qutub
Qutub Minar and Iron Pillar, Delhi - Qutub Minar. Photo by Dimitry B.

Other Important Buildings in the Compound

As one approaches, a small mosque in a dilapidated condition is located to the right of the minar. The mosque, named Quwwat-ul-Islam (Light of Islam), is the first mosque to be built in North India by Islamic or Muslim Rulers. An inscription on the eastern entrance of the mosque informs the visitor that it was constructed from the materials procured from the demolition of 27 Hindu and Jain temples that existed in the compound. The distinctive Hindu ornamental style inside the mosque, substantially validates the statement. The ruins of some of the temples still exist in the compound. Qutbu l-Din Aibak built the mosque between 1193 and 1197. Although almost in ruins, the mosque is still a construction of some magnificence. Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish,while making additions to the tower, and Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1315 enlarged the mosque.

Also in the lush green garden complex, is one of the most enigmatic structures in the world that archaeologists and metallurgists are still curious about. Called a “testimony to the skill of Indian blacksmiths of ancient times”, the 7.21 meters high iron pillar has weathered centuries, without showing any signs of rusting or wear. Estimated to weigh more than six tons, it has a diameter of 42 centimeters at the bottom and tapers to 30.6 centimeters at the top. The pillar is believed to have been constructed in 410 AD during the reign of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, a king of one of the greatest Hindu dynasties to rule India. It has supposedly been shifted to its current location by the Muslim rulers from Madhya Pradesh, to commemorate their victory. The pillar was initially built to commemorate the Hindu God, Lord Vishnu.

Among other interesting constructions in the compound is the Ala’i Minar, a venture by Ala-ud-Din Khilji to build a tower twice as high as the Qutub Minar, but reached a height of only 25 meters. The tomb of Iltutmish was built in 1235, and is constructed of red sandstone. In 1311, the Ala’i-Darwaza was constructed, the southern gate that leads to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. A madrasa (Wikipedia Article), and several graves and tombs are also seen in the complex.

Qutub Minar and
	mausoleum, Delhi, India - Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar and mausoleum, Delhi, India - Qutub Minar. Photo by James Gordon

For Visitors

The Qutub Minar, located in Delhi, the Indian capital city, is well connected with road and rail transport. The city too has a domestic and an international airport, and is connected with important cities throughout the world. Indian nationals and citizens of many Asian countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Thailand and Myanmar) are charged at ₨ 10 ($0.16) per person for entry. Other nationals are charged ₨ 250 ($4.00) per head. All children of 15 years and below are let in without charge. The site is open from sunrise to sunset.

Delhi itself is a treasure house for sightseeing. With the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Akshardham Temple, India Gate, Jama Masjid, Safdarjang Tomb, Parliament House and the Lotus Temple are all within a few kilometers of each other, one couldn't ask for more in terms of architectural diversity, history and intrigue. Within six hours of driving, one can reach the marvel called the Taj Mahal and several other important monuments in the medieval city of Agra. Because of the pleasant weather, October to March is the best time to visit the city and the surrounding areas.

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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Aug 30, 2014

Pictures of Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar - Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar - Photo by Sakeeb Sabakka

Qutub Minar at Sunset - Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar at Sunset - Photo by Saad Akhtar


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