Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Qutab Minar

I have been a frequent visitor to the UNESCO World Heritage web page and there always been a few on my wish list. The world’s tallest brick minaret was one among them.

As planned we reached there well before the sunset.

History :

Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak commenced the construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193, only to complete the base. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more stories and, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth storey, thus completing the Minar in 1386.

We enter through the colossal Alai Darwaza, the erstwhile main entrance to the whole Qutab complex. The magnificent gateway with inlaid marble decorations and latticed stone screens.

A 238ft tall massive structure with 379 steps leading to the top. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Quran. All stories are surrounded by projected balcony encircling the Minar and are supported by exquisite stalactite designs. The tapering tower has pointed and circular flutings on the first story round and star-shaped on the second and third stories.

At the foot of the Qutab Minar stands the first mosque to be built in India, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid. It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Hindu and Jain temples, which were demolished by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance.

Walking over to the east gate and you can see an inscription over there that expounds that the original mosque was built on the foundations of a Hindu temple and the materials obtained by demolishing 27 idolatrous temples!

On entering the voluminous courtyard of the mosque, get to see the Iron Pillar, which is one of the world’s curious antiques. The Sanskrit inscription on the pillar indicates that the pillar was originally present outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar.

The Iron pillar easily reminds me of Cheeni Kum. But the pillar is now protected by a fence and people are not allowed to touch or encircle it.

Walking over to the west of the mosque we see the tomb of Iltutmish. It is a 9 sq m chamber of red sandstone, profusely carved with inscriptions, geometrical and arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition on the entrances and the whole of interior. Some of the motifs viz., the wheel, tassel, etc., are reminiscent of Hindu designs.

Not only the sunset, but the well maintained premise that glows with ambrosial lights, cast a mesmerizing spell. It was a leisurely chit-chat visit for some Delhites.

Alai Minar

A second tower, the Ala'i Minar was conceived to be taller than Qutub Minar. But its construction was abandoned when it was about 12 meters tall.

Qutub remains one of my favorite site in Delhi. And this photo remains one of my favorites.

1 comment:

Mridula said...

That sunset through the ruins certainly caught my eye. The place is so close by for me and yet it has been ages since I went anywhere near it.

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