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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Qutb Group of Monuments Part Two

(Continued from Qutb Group of Monuments Part One.......)

Period of Khalji Sultan Ala ud din
The Khalji dynasty succeeded the Mamluk dynasty in 1290 A.D. Sultan Ala ud din Khalji (1296 - 1316), during his reign, tripled the size of the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque to accommodate the city's growing Muslim population. Ala ud din Khalji also decided to build another minaret, the Alai Minar, meant to be taller and larger than the existing Qutb Minar. Ala ud din Khalji also added a madarsa to the southwestern end of the complex and the historically significant Alai Darwaza (1311 A.D.) on its southern end.

 Alai Darwaza, with the tomb of Imam Zamin to the right. Alai Darwaza was the first building in India to employ Islamic architectural principles in its construction and ornamentation.

The Alai Darwaza is a richly decorated gateway, renowned for its use of a bold polychromatic scheme. Three other gates were also added to this mosque extension, two at the eastern wall and one at the northern wall.

It is the main gateway from southern side of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. Second Khalji Sultan of Delhi, Ala ud din Khalji in 1311 AD, also added a court to the pillared to the eastern side. The domed gateway is decorated with red sandstone and inlaid white marble decorations, inscriptions in Naskh script, latticed stone screens and showcases the remarkable craftsmanship of the Turkic artisans who worked on it.
                         Sandstone carvings at the base of the Alai Darwaza
    A photo of the entrance to the Alai Darwaza. Observe the pointy arch.

Observe the minarets carved of red sandstone and marble and their flowery base. Also observe the intricate carving on red sandstone which reach till the ceiling.

This is the first building in India to employ Islamic architecture principles in its construction and ornamentation. The Mamluk (Slave) dynasty did not employ true Islamic architecture styles and used false domes and false arches, this makes the Alai Darwaza, the earliest example of first true arches and true domes in India.

Another door of Alai Darwaza facing the Qutb Minar. Observe the unique red sandstone carvings all around the door frame.

It is considered to be one of the most important buildings built in the Delhi sultanate period. With its pointed arches and spearhead of fringes, identified as lotus buds, it adds grace to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque to which it served as an entrance.

The tomb of Ala ud din Khalji. The grave and the ceiling of the mausoleum is gone.

The madarsa next to the tomb of Ala ud din Khalji. This was the first example in India of a tomb standing alongside a madarsa.

At the back of the complex, southwest of the mosque, stands an L-shaped construction, consisting of Ala ud din Khalji's Tomb dating 1316 AD, and a madarsa, an Islamic seminary built by him. The central room of the building, which has his tomb, has now lost its dome, though many rooms of the seminary or college are intact, and since been restored.

This is the unfinished base of the mammoth tower Alai Minar, begun by Ala ud din Khalji intended to give competition to Qutb Minar.

Nearby stands the Alai Minar, an ambitious tower of victory. Ala ud din Khalji started constructing this minaret to rival the Qutb Minar, after his armies (led by Malik Kafur) triumphed in the landmark Deccan (Central and South India) campaign (through which he got possession of the world famous Kohinoor Diamond). He died when only its first storey was built and its construction was abandoned thereafter.

Period of Tughluq Sultan Feroze Shah

The minar was first struck by lightning in 1368 AD, which knocked off its top storey. The necessary repairs were done by Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq (1351-1388). Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq added the top two floors which were faced with white marble and sandstone enhancing the distinctive variegated look of the minar, as seen in lower three storeys.

The top two floors looks distinctly different in design than the lower floors. The top two floors were built in Tughluq style by the Emperor Feroze Shah Tughluq who also conducted repairs over the monument.

Sultan Feroze Shah also added a cupola (chhatri) at the top of the minar. This cupola (chhatri) fell down in an earthquake in 1802 and was damaged. These architectural additions were done by Sultan Tughluq in his own style which is why the structure displays a marked variation in architectural styles from the Mamluk dynasty to that of the Tughluq dynasty.

Period of Lodi Sultan Sikandar

Inscriptions at the Qutb Minar indicate further repairs by Sultan Sikandar Lodi (of the Lodi Dynasty) in 1503, when it was struck by lightning once again.

Tomb of Imam Zamin

Another monument hailing to the Lodi dynasty's period was the Tomb of Imam Muhammad Ali, or Imam Zamin. It stands on a raised courtyard, next to the Alai Darwaza. As per an inscription of the eastern entrance to the tomb, Imam Zamin was a saint from Central Asia (Turkestan), who settled in India around 1500 A.D. , during the reign of Sikandar Lodi. He built his tomb during his lifetime, and was buried here after his death in 1539 AD. The sandstone structure has a dome on an octagonal base, while its interior is finished in polished white plaster, and contains fine, perforated jaalis, or screens common in Lodi period architecture.

Period of British Colonial Rule

Sanderson's Sundial

Major Smith's Cupola (Smith's Folly)

In the year 1802 the Qutb Minar was damaged by an earthquake and the cupola (chhatri) on the top (erected by Sultan Feroze Shah Tughlaq) was thrown down. It was repaired by Major R. Smith of the Royal Engineers in 1223 and replaced the previous cupola (chhatri) with a Bengali-style chhatri. It was removed by Governor General, Lord Hardinge in 1848, as it looked out of place, and now stands in the outer lawns of the complex, popularly known as Smith's Folly.

The No-Nonsense Travel Advice
Name of the Monument
Qutb Complex
Constructed By
Emperors Qutb ud din Aibak, Iltutmish and Others
Period of Construction
12th, 13th and 16th centuries. Repair work carried out during 14th, 16th and 19th centuries.
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)
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