Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar (pronounced Qoot-ub Minar), a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Delhi, India. The Qutb Minar, constructed with red sandstone, marble, lime mortar and rubble masonry, is the tallest brick minaret in the world, with a height of 72.5 metres (237.8 ft). It contains 379 stairs to reach the top, and the diameter of the base is 14.32 m while it is about 2.75 m on the top. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as the Qutb complex.

Their are many reasons cited for the construction of the Minar. The most commonly accepted  reasons are that In order to celebrate the advent of Muslim dominance in Delhi (and India), the first ruler of the Delhi sultanate, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it,  commenced construction of the Qutb Minar in 1199 A.D. Qutb ud din Aibak also wanted it for the use of the mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer (in the city of Qila Rai Pithora). The minar was completed by his successor Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish.

The Entrance into the Minar

A snapshot of the Kufic inscriptions on the first floor of the Minar.  This floor was constructed while the first Slave (Mamluk) King Qutbuddin Aibak was alive and majority of these inscriptions praise Mohammed Ghori (Qutbuddin's master)

The Minar, made with numerous superimposed flanged and cylindrical shafts in the interior, and fluted columns on the exterior, which have a 40 cm thick veneer of red and buff coloured sandstone; all surrounded by bands of intricate carving in Kufic style of Islamic calligraphy, give the Minar the appearance of 'bundled reeds' from a distance. Also marking a progression in era, is the appearance of inscriptions in a bold and cursive Thuluth script of calligraphy on the Qutb Minar, distinguished by strokes that thicken on the top, as compared to Kufic in earlier part of the construction.

View of the honey comb like designs under the balcony of the First Floor of the Minar. The Minar represents an excellent example of Indo-Islamic architecture

The Qutb Minar and the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque are built on the ruins of 27 (demolished) Hindu and Jain temples, which were built by the Tomars and the Chauhans, who were amongst the last Hindu rulers of Delhi.

Many historians believe that the Qutb Minar was named after the first Slave King Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but others contend that it was named in honour of the Sufi Saint Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki, from the Middle East who came to live in India and was greatly venerated by Sultan Iltutmish.

Observe the distinct top two floors (covered with marble) of the Minar which were constructed by Emperor Feroze Shah Tughlaq

As the Qutb Minar was a tower of immense height quite a few times it got struck by lightning and so, had to be repaired time and again. According to the inscriptions on its surface the Minar was repaired restored by Emperor Feroze Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88), Emperor Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517) and Major R.Smith in 1829.

The Iron Pillar and the Qutb Minar

The nearby Iron Pillar is one of the world's foremost metallurgical curiosities, standing in the famous Qutb complex. Tradition assigns the erection of the Pillar to Anang Pal Tomar, whose name it bears, with the date 1052 C.E. According to the traditional belief, anyone who can encircle the entire column with their arms, with their back towards the pillar, can have their wish granted. Because of the corrosive qualities of sweat the government has built a fence around it for safety. The quality of Iron used in the pillar is an excellence of technology. The smoothness of the pillar surface makes it rust proof. The amalgamation of different metals with Iron produces such high quality of smoothness.

The minar as seen from the ruins of the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque. Observe the tilt of the minaret towards the right.

The Qutb Minar has a tilt of 25 inches to the southwest. This is considered to be "within safe limits", but experts have stated that the monument needs regular monitoring in case rainwater seepage further weakens the foundation.

The No-Nonsense Travel Advice
Name of the Monument
Qutb Minar
Constructed By
Emperors Qutb ud din Aibak and Iltutmish
Year of Construction
1199 A.D.
Mehrauli, New Delhi
How to Reach
(By Metro) Get down at Qutub Minar Metro Station (on the Yellow Line) and walk the short distance OR take an Auto Rickshaw from your Starting Point OR take a Hop-On-Hop-Off sightseeing bus which is run by Delhi Tourism. Fare is Rs 300 for Adults and Rs 150 for children. Checkout Delhi Tourism website for details.
Entrance Fee
. Citizens of India and visitors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Thailand and Myanmar - Rs. 10 per head
. Visitors from other countries -
Indian Rs. 250/- per head
. (Free entry to children up to 15 years)
Suggested Reading
(From this bi-weekly edition of Delhi-iteful Tuesdays you would be presented a fresh and acutely informative series christened as Destination Delhi. This series would cover the beautiful and historical city of Delhi in detail and present you every 'landmark' worth visiting. So, Discover and Enjoy..)



You have shared some great pictures of Qutb Minar showing the details of the carvings. I had been to this place recently and I must agree that it is a wonder in itself apart from being a remarkable historical monument.

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