Qutub Minar Delhi is surrounded by other ancient monuments and the collection of these monuments is collectively known as the Qutub Complex. The Qutb Complex is an assortment of monuments that houses the famous Qutub Minar, Alai Darwaza, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Iron pillar, Alauddin Khilji's tomb and Madarsa, Alai Minar, Tomb of Illtumish and several other ruined Jain temples.
Qutub Minar History
The construction of Qutub Minar was started by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak. However, he could not complete it and his successor Illtutmish completed it after Qutub-ud-Din Aibak's death. Aibak was inspired by the Minerat of Jam in Afghanistan and wished to surpass it and hence started the construction of Qutub Minar. The history of Qutub Minar goes back to the time when during the Mughal rule Mehrauli was the capital of the Mamluk dynasty. Shahbuddin Mohammed Ghori, a ruler of the dynasty had no offsprings. He considered his slaves as his children. After Ghori’s death, his entire empire was split up amongst his slaves. Qutub-ud-Din Aibak become the first ruler of Delhi in 1206. Qutub-ud-Din Aibak destroyed over twenty five Hindu and Jain temples and reused their material for constructing the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. He started the construction of Qutub Minar but failed to complete it. After his death his successor Illtumish completed it. In 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey of the monument. The minar received some damages due to earthquakes but was revamped from time to time by the rulers ruling Delhi. Hence the Qutub Minar is a testimony to the vitality and multiplicity of Delhi.
Legends relating Qutub Minar
Several legends are found being associated with the origin of Qutub Minar. According to some Qutub-ud-Din Aibak built the minaret as a victory tower to mark the celebration of victory of his master Mohammed Ghori over Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan. While some historians also believe that Qutub-ud-din Aibak constructed the Qutub Minar in the memory of a Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. Some also believe that the minaret was built as Minar of Jami Masjid, a prayer hall or Qutub, which refers to an axis or pole of Islam. Still some others believe that Hindu ruler Prithviraj Chuahan constructed it for his daughter to see the holy river Yamuna while performing “pujas”.
Architecture of Qutub Minar
Built by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, Qutab Minar is a tall brick minaret, a reflection of the Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. Qutub Minar is considered another fine example of the architectural styles of the Mughals. The height of Qutub Minar is 72.5 metres and has five storeys. There are 379 steps in the minar. All the five storeys are marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. First three of the storeys are made of red sandstone and the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. The verses of the holy Quran are inscribed on it. The inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters could also be found describing the excerpts from the history of its construction. Each of the storeys could be seen surrounded by esthetically decorated balconies.
The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, inside the Qutub complex, was also built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak. It is the first mosque to be built in India. The mosque has been built on a raised courtyard and there is a stone screen between the prayer hall and courtyard. The use of mandap dome, intricate stone carvings of idols, corbelled arches, geometric designs, floral motifs, etc could be seen here.
The Alai Darwaza is the main gateway or entrance to the mosque.
The Iron Pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. The Iron Pillar is 7 metres long and lacks corrosion. It is believed that if you can encircle the pillar with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will come true. The iron pillar is the largest known composite iron object obtained from the ancient times. It was erected by Chandragupta II Vikramaditya. Inscription in Sanskrit language indicating its setup as a Vishnudhwaja, standard of god could be seen. There is a cavity at the top of the pillar which suggests that an idol of Lord Garuda was placed in it.
The Tomb of Illtumish lies at the North Western corner of the mosque. It has a square base and stands on a raised platform. Intricate design beautifies the platform. The main cenotaph, placed inside the mosque, is constructed of white marble. The walls inside are decorated with diamond emblems, lotus designs, tassel and so on. The interior wall has a Mihrab/ prayer niche. Imam Zamin’s Tomb has an octagonal base and is believed to be built by him during his lifetime. Imam Zamin was a saint from Turkestan who came to India around 1500 and settled there.
The construction of Alai Minar was started by Ala-ud-Din Khilji who wanted to make it two times higher than the Qutub Minar. Just after completion of first floor core, however, he died. It remained incomplete. Known as the unfinished minar, it is an 80 metres high rubble masonry core. Alauddin Khilji’s tomb lies at the backside of the Qutb complex. There is also a madarsa and an Islamic seminary.
Before 1981 the general people could climb to the top of the minar. However in 1981 there occurred an accident where around 45 people were killed in a stampede as there was a power cut inside the minar. After that horrific incident public access to the minar has been forbidden.
Qutub Minar is one of the most favoured destinations of tourists. Qutub Minar is surrounded by a lush green garden where tourists can enjoy a leisurely time.
A three day long winter festival called the Qutub Festival is organized by the Delhi Tourism. Famous artists from all over the country gather here to give scintillating performances. The Qutub Festival is one of the most awaited cultural and musical festivals.
Quick Facts on Qutub Minar
Location: Aurobindo Marg, Mehraulli, New Delhi
Open: All days, except Fridays.
Timings: Sunrise to sunset.
Entry Fee: Rs.10 per head (Indians), Rs. 250 pe head (Foreigners), Children below 15 years enjoy free entry.
Photography and Video Cameras: Rs 25 per camera.
Best time to visit: October to March.
How to Reach Qutub Minar
By Air: The nearest airport to Qutub Minar is the Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi. From the airport car, pre paid taxis, air conditioned and non A/C coaches etc are available which will take you to the Qutab Minar.
By Rail: New Delhi Railway Station is the nearest railway station to Qutub Minar. From here taxis and cars are available to reach Qutub Minar.
By Road: Local transport can be hired to reach Qutub Minar. Qutub Minar is well connected by buses. Delhi Darshan Day tour is offered by Delhi tourism and it covers Qutub Minar as well. Ho Ho Buses are also available to reach Qutub Minar.
By Delhi Metro: Nearest metro station to Qutub Minar.