Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monuments of Delhi - Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar
Panoramic view of the Minar
The word 'Qutab Minar' means 'axis minaret'. The tower has five storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony.The tower was built in three stages. Qutab-ud-Din completed the first storey, whereas the second, third and the fourth were completed by his successor and son-in-law, Illtutmish in 1230. The minar was struck by lightening in AD 1368 and the fallen top storey was replaced by two stories, the fourth and the fifth in 1370 AD by Feroz Shah Tughlaq.

The Mausoleum of Allauddin Khilji
Qutub Minar, at 72.5 meters or 238 ft is the tallest brick & sandstone tower in the world.It is an Indo-Islamic architectural wonder of ancient India and is listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. To reach the top storey of the Qutub Minar one is required to traverse 399 steps.The diameter of the base of the tower is 14.3 meters wide while the top floor measures 2.75 meters in diameter.The first three storey's are made of red sandstone and are heavily indented with different styles of fluting, alternately round and angular on thebottom floor, round on the second and angular on the third. Whereas, the fourth and fifth floors are made of marble and sandstone. Although these intricate works had got eroded badly due to vagaries of nature but have now been restored to their pristine glory through renovation work undertaken from the time to time.
Intricate filigree work

This magnificent tower of victory stands in the Qutab Complex located on the Aurobindo Marg, near Mehrauli, 14 Km south of Connaught place in Delhi. The complex has a number of other important monuments- the gateway built in 1310, the Alai Darwaza, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque; one of the oldest existing mosques in India, the tombs of Altamish, Alauddin Khalji and Imam Zamin; the 2000 year old 7m high Iron Pillar- the Alai Minar; another tower 27m high, the Madrasa or School, great screen of Qutbuddin Aibak in the mosque etc.The Qutub Minar is itself built on the ruins of Lal Kot or Red Citadel/fort of the Jat Tomars & Chauhans in Dhillika, the last Hindu Kings of Delhi.The complex stands in a temple complex as the pillars etc. reflect symbols which are consistent with Hindu temple architecture.

Alai Darwaza
King Qutubuddin Aibak of the Slave dynasty laid the foundation of the Qutab Minar in 1199, adjoining the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, to proclaimthe victory of Islam, after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi.The construction of this monument is said to have been inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan. It was the Afghan, Muhammad of Ghauri who ousted the last Hindu king Prithviraj Chauhan in AD 1192, but he returned to his country leaving Qutbuddin Aibak as his viceroy. In 1206, on his masters death, Qutubuddin Aibak crowned himself as the Sultan of Delhithus establishing the Slave dynasty.
Smith's folly in foreground - the Bengal type Chattri used by British architect Smith to restore Qutub Minar after lightening struck & destroyed the top two floors - subsequent outcry by other archeologists restored to its orginal state

Today, this impressively ornate tower has a slight tilt, but otherwise has worn the centuries remarkably well. The staircase inside the tower to the balconies has been closed following an accident in early 1980's when a party of school girls panicked when the lights failed and a stampede led to a number of deaths.

The inticate bells & floral motifs on the pillar clearly depict the existence of a Hindu temple at the site where Qutub Minar stands today.

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