Qutub Minar, standing broad and proud as the tallest minaret in the world, is located in the Mehrauli township in Delhi, India’s cultural and political capital. Qutub Complex that includes the Qutub Minar and a few other significant monuments built in the same era are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of this beautiful minaret commenced in 1193 during the reign of Qutb-ud-din Aybak but the entire structure was erected in parts, a few storeys at a time. Complete with five storeys, Qutub Minar took its final shape in 1368 during the rule of Firoz Shah Tughlak. Historians have been divided about the construction of the minaret and we bring to you the possible historical hypotheses of the architectural marvel that is the Qutub Minar.
History of the Awe-Inspiring Minaret
Although highly contested, the most sought-after archaeological insights suggest that the design of Qutub Minar was inspired by the minaret of Jam, Afghanistan. When the reign of the first Muslim ruler of Delhi commenced, with that began the construction of the minaret in the present day Mehrauli district of Delhi. The founder of the Delhi Sultanate, Aibak laid the foundational storey of Qutub Minar in 1193 on the ruins of Lal Kot, Dhillika’s citadel. Simultaneously began the construction of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque in the vicinity. The minaret took its name either after Qutb-ud-din Aybak, or the sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. Qutb-ud-din Aibak was succeeded by Iltutmish, who constructed three more storeys to the first, making the minaret four storeys tall between 1211 and 1236. The minaret remained at that stage for a century. It was struck by a lightening that destroyed its top-most storey, and only during Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s reign between 1351 and 1388 was the top storey rebuilt, and the fifth storey was added to Qutub Minar.
Architectural Details of Qutub Minar
The Qutub Complex is said to have been built using the remains of the demolished Hindu and Jain temples by the Muslim rulers. Hindu inscriptions have evidently been found on the inverted pieces of the red sandstone that makes the first three storeys of the minaret. The last two were built using marble and sandstone. Based on Iranian architectural design, the minaret was adapted to local and traditional architectural conventions. The top storey of the minaret is 369 steps from the ground. The Qutub Complex also includes more structures built either during the same era, or subsequently. A 98% pure wrought iron pillar that weighs about six tonnes stands next to the main arch. It is among the oldest edifices, and is called the Iron Pillar of Delhi. Inscription in Brahmi script on the iron pillar fuel the historical debate around the architecture of Qutub Complex — if it holds Hindu or Muslim roots. Alai Darwaza, Imam Zamim’s Tomb, Alauddin Khilji’s Tomb, and Iltutmish’s Tomb are parts of the Qutub Complex.
Whether you are a history buff or a landscape and architecture geek, Qutub Minar is sure to tickle and satiate your grey cells. The intricate carvings and the open landscape would lure you into spending more time here alone. Choose from various transportations options — metro, auto, cab, bus — easily available from any of the hotels in Delhi. To make this visit more memorable, try snacks at a nearby outlet.