Location- 15 km south of New Delhi.
Qutub Minar is not only an important tourist spot in New Delhi
rather it is an exquisite example of the Mughal Architecture. What
the Leaning Tower is to Pisa or the Eiffel Tower to Paris, is the
Qutub Minar to New Delhi - its landmark. Qutub Minar is the highest
stone tower in India as well as one of the finest Islamic structures
ever raised. The famous monuments around the Qutub area form the
Qutub Complex which can be visited by the tourists.
A window to the brief history of the monument
In 1199 AD, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak laid the foundation of Qutub Minar
for the use of Mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer. However,
only the first story was completed by Qutub-ud-din. The other
stories were built by his successor and son-in-law, Shams -Ud -Din
IItutmish (1211-36 AD). The two circular stories in white marble
were built by Ferozshah Tughlaq in 1368, replacing the original
fourth storey. This towering structure in red sandstone has a
diameter of 14.32m at the base and about 2.75m on the top with a
height of 72.5m.
About the grand architecture
All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling
the Minar and are supported by exquisite stalactite designs. The
tapering tower has pointed and circular flutings on the first story
round and star-shaped on the second and third stories. The bands of
calligraphic inscriptions are amazing in perfection. Numerous
inscriptions in Arabic and Nagari characters in different places of
the Minar reveal the history of Qutub.
Other monuments located in close proximity to the Qutub Minar
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the northeast of Minar is first
mosque to be built in India and one of the most spectacular in the
world. Its construction was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1193 AD
and the mosque was completed in 1197 AD. Additions were made to the
building by Iltutmush in 1230 AD and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315 AD.
It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters,
erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27
Hindu and Jain temples, which were demolished by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak
as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance.
Close to the mosque is one of Delhi's most curious antiques, the
Iron Pillar. The pillar, with its distinctly inscription in
Sanskrit in Brahmin script of 4th century AD, is said to have been
transported here, but its origins remain a mystery. Another
mystifying factor is that despite being exposed to the elements, the
pillar has remained rust-free. According to popular belief, anyone
who stands with his back to the pillar and encircles it with his
arms will have his wish granted. One can see visitors to the Qutab
Minar trying their luck at the pillar.
To the west of the Quuwat-ul-Islam mosque is another remarkable
building - The Tomb of Iitutmish. The tomb was built by the
monarch himself in 1235 AD. It is a plain square chamber of red
sandstone, profusely carved with inscriptions, geometrical and
arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition on the entrances and the
whole of interior. Some of the motifs viz., the wheel, tassel, etc.,
are reminiscent of Hindu designs.
Later monuments in this complex include the Alai Darwaza and
the Ala'i Minar, built by Ala-ud-din Khilji (1296-1316 AD). The
Alai Darwaza is a magnificent gateway with inlaid marble decorations
and latticed stone screens that display the remarkable artistry of
the Turkish artisans who worked on it. The Ala'i Minar was conceived
of as a greater tower than the Qutab Minar, but its construction was
abandoned after the completion of the 25 m high first story.
The other remains in the Qutub complex comprise Madrasa, graves,
tombs and mosque.