Qutub Minar, one of the most famous monuments in Delhi is a part of the Qutub Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Mehrauli. Qutub Minar, with a height of 73 m is the tallest minaret in the world. The minaret is of 5 stories with a base diameter of 14.3 m which gets reduced to 2.7 m at the peak. The design of the minaret is said to be based on the minaret of Jam in Western Afganistan.
The history of Delhi Sultanate had always fascinated me so without any further delay I took a metro from Akshardham, changed for yellow line at Rajiv Chowk and got down at Qutub Minar Metro station. From there, the sharing autos charging Rs 20 per person dropped me in front of the entrance. As I entered the complex, I felt as if I was taken back to the bygone era of Delhi Sultanate. The minaret is made of red sandstone and is adorned with Quranic texts and Parso-Arabic characters reveling the history of its construction and the later restoration works.
To the North East of the Minar is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. The literal meaning of the name means “Might of Islam”.
The mosque stands on the ruins of Lal Kot Palace. Materials from the 27 Hindu and Jain temples demolished by the Delhi Sultans were used to build the mosque to immortalize their victory over the Rajputs. Although the mosque is in ruins but the beautiful arches and the inscriptions still do justice to its name. The remnants of the Hindu architecture can be still seen over the pillars which are adorned with geometrical designs. Wandering through the corridors of the mosque I felt the serenity, the beauty almost touching me; the stories almost reaching out to me. Standing tall in the courtyard is the Iron Pillar which is considered a metallurgical marvel. The Iron Pillar predates the monuments in the complex.
Ala’i-Darwaza is the Southern and the formal gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
It was built by Alauddin Khilji. It is considered as the first building to employ Islamic principles of construction and ornamentation. The monument has a free flowing cool breeze making it a pleasant experience for the visitors.
Ala’i Minar stands for the North of the Qutub Minar.
The construction was started by Alauddin Khilji with the intention of making it twice the size of minar. The construction was started by Alauddin Khilji with the intention of making it twice the size of minar. Only the first story could be completed which stands at a height of 25m.
The tomb of Iltutmish is a plain square chamber made of red sandstone and marble.
It is situated just outside the North-West corner of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. One can notice intricate designs and elaborate carvings comprising religious texts over the interior walls.
Alauddin Madrasa is located to the south west of the mosque.
The central room of the madrasa which houses Alauddin’s tomb has lost its dome although many rooms are still intact.
Near the Alai Darwaza is the tomb of Imam Zamin. He was the imam of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and was of turkish descent.
The interiors are adorned with white plaster and delicate jaali work.
Even after 800 years the monuments could clearly give me a glimpse of the bygone era. This one visit made me appreciate the architecture. One stroll among these monuments and I was awed by their splendor and the pride they commanded.
There are many other small monuments in the complex like the Sanderson Sundial which was built to honour Gordan Sanderson who carried out extensive excavations in the area around Qutub Minar. A structure resembling a pyramid can be seen near the exit although the entry is restricted.
There are many other monuments that have lost their significance in the pages of History. Each of these small monuments has a story to tell. They stand with the other monuments, masking them, waiting for someone to listen to their part in the glorious history of Delhi Sultanate. Come, visit Delhi and explore it.