Places To See - Qutb Minar

Started by Qutb-ud-din Albak in 1193 and completed by his descendants four years later, it stands a mighty 72.5m. Iltutmish added three storeys to the basement that Aibak constructed, and the last two were built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq. It is the highest stone tower in India. Similar victory towers are found in Afghanistan. It could be that after Mohammad Ghori's victory in 1192, Iltutmish built this as a symbol of victory. There's also the possibility that it was also erected as a minaret for the adjacent mosque, like a signal tower.

This magnificent structure, situated at Mehrauli in South Delhi, consists of five storeys, with each storey having a balcony. The first three floors are built in red granite and the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone. It is said that 27 temples were flattened, and their materials used in order to build the Qutb Minar. At the base of the tower is India's first mosque – the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque.

A popular saint of the time was Bhaktiyar kaki, fondly called Qutb Sahib. The tower was believed to be his lath (staff) that linked Earth and heaven. And so the name Qutb Sahib ki Lath, and consequently, the present name of Qutb Minar.

The seven-metre-tall Iron Pillar stands in the patio of the mosque. The pillar and the tower have delicate carvings and verses from the Koran. The Qutb Minar is the first monument built by a Muslim ruler in the country. The monuments of that period and the following ones adopted an Indo-Islamic architecture style. There are several famous tombs in the vicinity. The tomb of Iltutmish, which he himself built in 1235, is located nearby. The tomb's interiors are decorated with calligraphy.

Qutb Minar Mosque Complex

Quwwat al Islam Mosque
Also known as the Qutb Minar Mosque, it stands in the Qutb Minar complex of buildings. It consists of a central courtyard, a prayer hall and several columns. The latter taken from temples. As you walk through East Arcade, you might as well think you were within a temple premises as the columns look more like it than a mosque’s insides. Several columns bear plaster that must have been used to mask sculptures and idols on the pillars, but some are still clearly visible.

The building of the mosque was started in 1192, by Aibak, and now, most of it is in ruins. There is a raised platform near the prayer hall, leading experts to believe that it was meant for the Sultan and his family. The roofs of this structure do not align with that of its neighbours’, again underlining the above theory. The mosque was in use right up to the 17th century.

It was in 1199 that the great arched screen was erected, complete with wide Islamic arches laced with Indian masonry tactics. Calligraphy and arabesque designs can be found on the walls. An interesting feature is the presence of Hindu sculptures within and around it. The southern colonnade is fairly newly built. The colonnades were constructed with a view to rest weary travellers; the ones on the floor above were elite in nature.

Illtutmish and Alauddin Khilji added and extended courtyards and colonnades to the original structure. Illtutmish also changed the plant/floral designs to geometrical ones on the screens and walls he built.

Alai Darwaza
Alauddin built this grand entrance to the mosque. It is connected to walls on either side that existed before his reign. The projections on the wall could have extended around the dome on the gateway.

The structure is built in marble and red sandstone. The domes, columns and arches are alternatively built using both. The colour combination is just fabulous. Here, too, under the dome you can find lotus buds. In the middle of the large dome on top there is a smaller white marble dome, an uncommon sight.

This structure was built by Alauddin in 1317. It has two domed large chambers and three vaulted ones. There’s a central courtyard and a small garden, too. A stair leading up to the top of the madrasa is seen at one end of the columns of chambers.

Illtutmish’s Tomb
Cusped arches, carved columns and ornate decoration adorn this tomb. He built his own tomb in 1235. The inside of the tomb is more ornamental than its gateways and entrances. The grave itself is open to the sky. There are framed arches within the entrance, and the floor inside is an octagon.