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Qutub Minar, Delhi

Qutub Minar, Delhi
Location : Delhi
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1993
Entrance Fee : Citizens of India - Rs. 10/- per head (children up to 15 years free)
Others : US $ 5
Visiting Time : sunrise to sunset

Description : The Qutb Minar is a red sandstone tower. One of the finest Islamic monuments of the country, Qutab Minar was built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak after his victory over the Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. Situated just few kilometres south of Delhi, the tower tapers from 2.75 mts in diameter at its peak to 14.32 mts at its base and it has alternating angular and rounded flutings. In addition to Qutab Minar, you can see other notable monuments like massive Alai Darwaza, two mosques including the famous Quwwatul Islam mosque. It has five storeys, and is the highest stone tower in India.

This site just south of Delhi is an ensemble of three monuments: the rust-free iron pillar, the Quwwatu'l-Islam mosque and the Qutb Minar (minaret).

Most remarkable in the complex is the iron pillar, which was built during the Gupta Empire (a Hindu empire in India from 320 to about 335AD). It is made of such pure iron that it has never rusted, a standing testimony to the metallurgical skill of ancient Indians.

Qutbu'd-Din Aibak laid the foundation of Minar in AD 1199 for the use of the mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer and raised the first storey, to which were added three more storeys by his successor and son-in-law, Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish (AD 1211-36). All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling the minar and supported by stone brackets, which are decorated with honey-comb design, more conspicuously in the first storey.

Numerous inscriptions in Arabic and Nagari characters in different places of the minar reveal the history of Qutab. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firuz  Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517). Major R. Smith also repaired and restored the minar in 1829.

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque to the north-east of minar was built by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak in AD 1198. It is the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Hindu and Jaina temples which were demolished by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance. Later, a lofty arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged by Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-35) and Alau'd-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard bears an inscription in Sanskrit in Brahmi script of fourth century AD, according to which the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja (standard of god Vishnu) on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra. A deep socket on the top of the ornate capital indicates that probably an image of Garuda was fixed into it.

The tomb of Iltutmish (AD 1211-36) was built in AD 1235. 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.

Ala'i-Darwaza, the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was constructed by Alau'd-Din Khalji in AH 710 (AD 1311) as recorded in the inscriptions engraved on it. This is the first building employing Islamic principles of construction and ornamentation.

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