Qutub Minar: Epitome of victory and grandeur
Much of India’s reputation as a nation rich in architectural heritage would have gone unnoticed had there been no Qutub Minar. It will be still inadequate to describe this colossal monument if you address it is the world's tallest brick minaret. The city of Delhi takes pride for housing Qutub Minar. This notable Mughal architecture is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has already won over the hearts of art lovers. Over the centuries, this towering monument has stood as a placid yet strong vigilante of the city.
The Qutub complex is also blessed with a number of other architectural wonders including the Iron Pillar, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and Tomb of Iltutmish. Standing in front of Qutub Minar is a grand experience as you wonder at the refined specimen of Indo-Islamic architecture. The surrounding ancient and medieval structures are the added attractions for the visitors who have no other option than to watch and wonder.
Creation of Qutub Minar
Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who was the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, started the construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193 after being inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan. He could complete only the base of this tallest free standing memorial and it is later his successor, Iltutmish who added three more storeys. Finally the whole monument was completed in the year 1368 by Firuz Shah Tughluq.
The purpose behind building Qutub Minar is a highly debated topic till today. While the fact that this monument acted as a tower inviting people for prayer in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, it is also said that this sky-touching architecture was deliberated as a tower of victory epitomizing the might of Islam. There still remains some controversy about the reason for giving such a name to the tower. While some historians believe Qutub Minar got its name from Qutb-ud-din Aibak, while some are of the opinion that the monument was named after Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint who was highly revered by Iltutmish.
Structure of Qutub Minar
This is a 72 meters high (237.8 ft) monument, which looks down on other architectures in the complex. While the diameter of the base is 14.3 meters wide, the top floor has a diameter of 2.75 meters. Located in the southern quarters of Delhi, this majestic tower reflects its architectural excellence through the intricate work of carvings on its body. You need to climb 379 steps to reach the top of Qutub Minar which gives you a fair idea of how long this memorial is. Much of the beauty of Qutub Minar lies in its cylindrical shafts. Made of red sandstone, the monument is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Quran.
How much you do know about Qutub Minar?
Although the construction of Qutub Minar started in 1193 A.D by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, it was not before 1368 that his son-in-law Iltutmish finally completed constructing this huge tower. There are hidden pathways inside Qutub which were earlier used by the kings to escape. It is also believed that these pathways lead up to the Red Fort. The Archaeological Survey of India has recently confirmed that all the monuments were constructed by the refused stones of Jain Temples. Those rejected stones were demolished and utilized for creating such marvellous architectures. Moreover, The Qutub Minar is constructed on the ruins of Lal Kot, known as the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika.
What to see in Qutub complex?
Once you decide to wander about the Qutub Complex the first thing you should see is the Iron Pillar which has miraculously never got rusted ever since it was built. Situated in the courtyard of the mosque, the pillar is graced with Sanskrit inscription, which gives enough evidence that it was originally present outside a Vishnu temple. As you enter through Alai Darwaza, located in the south east of Qutab Minar, your eyes will not miss the elegantly designed facades, built in white marble with Arabic inscriptions. Built in 1311 AD, this acts as a grand entrance leading to Qutub Minar.
There are more attractions in the complex waiting for you to discover. Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, which is claimed to be the first mosque to be built in India stands at the foot of the Qutab Minar. The mosque had undergone a series of additions and renovations that has perhaps helped it retain its splendor. As you head towards the west of this mosque you will notice the tomb of Iltutmish decked with exquisite carvings encompassing its entire interior. Qutub Minar is surrounded by green manicured garden which is a real treat for your eyes. Do not miss the inscription on the east gate, which explain that the original mosque was constructed on the foundations of a Hindu temple and the materials were derived from the rocks collected by demolishing 27 temples.
Getting to Qutub Minar
Situated at Aurobindo Marg, near Mehrauli this magnificent monument and the whole Qutab Complex is just 14 km south of Connaught place in Delhi. Since it is located in South Delhi, it is always prudent for you to avail intra-state bus services of DTC. You can also opt for hiring auto-rickshaws and pre-paid taxis to reach this historical destination. The complex opens its gates for public viewing at 9 am in the morning and remains opened till 9 pm. It is always fascinating to visit Qutub Minar during late afternoon and wait till the dusk to witness a different look of this monument when adorned with lights.
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