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.