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About Qutub Minar
Qutab 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 tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing ’27 Hindu temples’. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.
The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.
No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.
The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughlak is quite evident in the minar. The relief work and even the materials used for construction differ. The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to nine feet at the apex. The tower is ornamented by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets. Even though in ruins, the Quwwat Ui Islam (Light of Islam) Mosque in the Qutab complex is one of the most magnificent structures in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak started its construction in 1193 and the mosque was completed in 1197.
Iltutmush in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315 made additions to the building. The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard,decorated with shafts and surrounded by piller. Most of these shafts are from the 27 Hindu temples, which were plundered to construct the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque has typical Hindu ornamentation. Close to the mosque is one of Delhi’s most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar.
Delhi is one of the India’s busiest entry points. It has a wide range of accommodation available from deluxe five star luxury hotels, with top-notch restaurants, 24-hour coffee shops, swimming pools, travel agents and shopping arcades, to middle-range hotels and guest houses offering good services and a comfortable stay, down to economical tourist lodges. There are a few Tourist Hostels, Working women’s Hostels, Service Apartments, Camping Sites and Dharmashalas as well.
Map of Qutub Minar
Location: Mehrauli in South West district of Delhi, India.
Why was it built: As victory tower/ As minaret to the muezzins
Architectural Style: Indo-Islamic architecture
Timings and Enter Ticket
Visit Timing: Sunrise to Sunset.
Entry Fee: Indian citizens: Rs. 30/- and for foreign nationals: Rs. 500. Entry is free for children up to 15 years of age.
How to Reach
By Metro – board from any DMRC station and reach Qutb Minar station and then follow rail map to reach the minar; by DTC buses; by Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Service offered by Delhi Tourism.
IGI is the nearest international airport. Tourists from different corners of the globe can reach here and can take cabs to reach Qutub Minar.
Both Nizamuddin and New Delhi railway stations are close to the Qutub Minar.
Nearest state of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are well connected with the capital. Regular buses ply from all these states for Delhi.
Qutb ud-Din Aibak, the founder of the Turkish rule in north-western India and also of the Mamluk Dynasty in Delhi commissioned the construction of this monument in 1192 AD. Aibak dedicated the minaret to the Muslim Sufi mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. Different beliefs surround the origin of the minaret. While some sources believe it was constructed as a tower of victory marking the beginning of Muslim dominion in India, some others say it served the muezzins who called the faithful to prayer from the minaret. Uncertainty hovers around naming of the tower with some suggesting it was named after the Sufi saint, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki while others believe it was named after Aibak himself.
The tower was completed by Aibak’s son-in-law and successor Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, regarded as the founder of the Delhi Sultanate, in 1220. Iltutmish added three more storeys to the monument. This historical monument faced a few natural disasters. A lightning hit the top storey of the minaret in 1369 AD, knocking it off entirely. The then ruler of the Sultanate of Delhi, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq took charge of its restoration and constructed two more storeys to the minaret made of marble and red sandstone. Again when an earthquake damaged it in 1505, the then Sultan of Delhi, Sikandar Lodi, reconstructed the top two storeys of the minaret with marbles. Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters engraved in various sections of the minaret speak about the history of its construction. The minaret faced the wrath of nature yet again when a major earthquake on September 1, 1803 damaged it severely. In 1828, it was renovated by Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army, who installed a cupola atop the tower. However in 1848, as instructed by the then Governor General of India, Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge, the cupola was uninstalled from the tower and placed in the east of it where the cupola remains situated.
The 73 m (240 ft.) high tapering minaret has a base with diameter 14.3 m (47 ft.) and diameter of 2.7 m (9 ft.) at top. There are six storeys in the minaret with the first three constructed with red sandstone and the next three with sandstone and marble. A circular staircase of 379 steps allows one to reach the top of the tower to witness a panoramic view of the city. Verses from the Qur’an are etched on the bricks of the minaret that are covered with elaborate iron carvings. Each storey of the tower has a projected balcony surrounding the minaret and supported by corbels that are ornamented with Muqarnas or honey-comb vault, a type of architectural ornamented vaulting. The architectural styles developed over different eras starting from the time of Aibak till that of Tughlak as also the materials used in construction of different stages of the tower are conspicuously varied. The tower is tilted from 65 cm above the ground.
Best Time to Visit Qutub Minar
The monument is less untainted with season. The Qutub Minar is at prime beauty throughout the year. Delhi has very harsh summer, which is dehydrating and very humid. Thus, it is better to avoid summer season, which starts in March and ends in June. The monsoon is pleasant but the city receives heavy rainfall making sightseeing, very uncomfortable. Thus, avoid monsoon season, which starts in July and ends in September. The winter season starts in October and ends in March. The climate is pleasing and it is the tourism season of the country. This is the best time to visit the monument.