Qutb Complex: Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar

The Qutb Minar (Axis of Islam) is amongst the most widely visited tourist spot in Delhi. Qutb Minar (Urdu: قطب مینار‎), also spelled Qutub or Qutab, is the 2nd tallest minar (73 metres) in India.

Qutb Minar
Qutb Minar, as seen from the Car Parking area
Qutub Minar reflects a fusion of Indo-Islamic architecture and is pioneered as being the first of its kind to be erected. It has stood the test of time, etching its name as we all see it today. This structure showcases the architectural genius of 3 Imperial generations of and clearly narrates the distinct styles as seen in each floor.

The Tower features a number of round shaped shafts that taper and are segregated by small balconies seen with intricate stalactite designs. The first floor showcases both circular and pointed ornamental grooves while the second and third floors feature star shaped ornamental grooves.

Qutb Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom.The Qutb Minar was commissioned by Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi, and was completed by his successor - Iltutmish. It is not known whether the tower was named after Qutbuddin Aibak or Qutbuddin Bhaktiyar Kaki, a famous Sufi saint who was living in Delhi con temporarily. 

The tower features 378 steps and was built along the guidelines of the first Islamic Turkic Sultan named Qutb-ud-din Aibak. This regal cylindrical shaped structure is observed with firm curved bands inlayed along with ornamental interpretation within the base made from red-coloured sandstone tapering from a base measuring 14.3 metres in diameter way up to the top measuring 2.75 metres in diameter.

The architecture follows the design of Jam Minar and several Minarets that were established by the Ghurids of Afghanistan. The Tower saw its initial phase of construction in 1193 AD, made way by demolishing the remains of 27 Jain Temples.

The real reason behind the establishment of the Qutub Minar may be known only to its creator; however, the theory to it is that it was created to proclaim the victory and domination of the Sultan and the Islamic province over Delhi. 

A version goes that this tower was erected as a Defence mechanism from where one could look out for unwarranted enemy advancement while another version states that it was erected as an exclusive tower referred to as the 'Minar of Jami Mosque'. The said purpose was its usage by the 'Muzim' or 'Muezzin', a Muslim priest from where he could lead the daily 'Prayer Call' or the 'Salat sessions held within the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque that lies in close proximity to the Minar.

The minar is itself built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi. One engraving on the minar reads, "Shri Vishwakarma prasade rachita" (Conceived with the grace of Vishwakarma)

Prior to the construction of the Qutub Minar, The ancient city of Lal Kot existed over this very spot and it was then demolished by Sultan Aibak to make way for this majestic structure and the ones surrounding it. The fragmented debris of the Jain Temples including red sandstones were collectively utilised to build the Qutb Minar, which began to take shape around 1193 AD.

The Sultan lived on, only to see its base and the first floor completed. However, it was his successor, Sultan Iltutmish who erected 3 more storeys followed by the 5th and the last floor completed by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1386 AD. 

The 4th floor was destroyed during a massive earthquake and henceforth, Firoz Shah Tughlaq renovated the tower with significant features such as the pavilions, inclusive of the 4th and 5th floors compelely furnished with white marble.

In 1505, an earthquake struck and it was repaired by Sikandar Lodi. Later in 1794, the minar suffered another earthquake and it was Major Smith, an engineer, who repaired the affected parts of the minar. He replaced Firoz Shah's pavilion at the top of the tower with his own pavilion. This pavilion was removed in 1848 by Lord Hardinge and now stands between the Dak Bungalow and the Minar in the garden. The floors built by Firoz Shah can be distinguished easily as the pavilion was built of white marble and quite smooth compared to the others.

The Qutub Minar is carved with intricate designs and etched with the verses from the Holy Quran engraved in it. Another distinct feature is a line that was probably carved out by a Hindu craftsman. It reads that the Minar was conceived by the grace of Vishwa Karma, probably referring to the fact that every inch of this tower engrains the stones of the Holy ancient Jain Temples.

Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in different sections of the Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351–88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489–1517).

Other monuments of the Qutb Complex:

Source of information: Wikipedia, QutubMinar.in, Delhi Tourism
Pictures: Copyright (c) HyM Photography