Qutub Minar in Delhi, India
|Designated||1993 (17th session)|
Qutub Minar, at 74 meters, is the second tallest minar in India after Fateh Burj at Mohali. Qutub Minar, along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, form the Qutb Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is located in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India. Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is a 73 meter (240 feet) tall tapering tower with a diameter measuring 14.32 meters (47 feet) at the base and 2.75 meters (9 feet) at the peak. Inside the tower, a circular staircase with 379 steps leads to the top. Qutab Minar station is the closest station on the Delhi Metro.
In 1200 CE, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate started construction of the Qutub Minar. In 1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Shams-ud-din Iltutmish added three storeys to the tower. In 1369, lightning struck the top storey, destroying it completely and Firoz Shah Tughlaq carried out restoration work replacing the damaged storey with two new storeys, made of red sandstone and white marble.
Qutub Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments, which are historically connected with the tower and are part of the Qutb Complex. These include the Iron Pillar of Delhi, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Alai Darwaza, the Tomb of Iltutmish, Alai Minar, Ala-ud-din's Madrasa and Tomb, and the Tomb of Imam Zamin. Other minor monuments include Major Smith's Cupola and Sanderson's Sundial.
The construction of Qutub Minar was commissioned by Qutbu l-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate in 1199 AD. The minar was built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika. Aibak's successor Shams-ud-din Iltutmish added three more storeys to complete the tower.
It has not been established with certainty whether Qutub Minar has been named after Qutbu l-Din Aibak, the emperor who commissioned its construction or Qutbuddin Bakhtiar kaki, the famous Sufi saint.
The culture of tower architecture was established in India before the arrival of the Turks. However, there is no evidence on record to confirm that the Qutb Minar was inspired or influenced by earlier Rajput towers. Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in different sections of the Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351–89) and Sikandar Lodi (1489–1517).
The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, located to the north of Qutb Minar, was built by Qutbu l-Din Aibak in 1192. It is one of the earliest surviving mosque in the Indian subcontinent. Later, an arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged by Iltutmish (1210–35) and Ala-ud-din Khilji.
The topmost storey was damaged by lightning in 1368 A.D. and was rebuilt by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Firoz Shah Tughlaq built two floors one of which can be distinguished easily as it was built of white marble. In 1505, an earthquake damaged Qutb Minar and the damage was repaired by Sikandar Lodi. On 1 August 1803, a major earthquake again caused serious damage to Qutb Minar. Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army renovated the tower in 1828 and installed a cupola to the top of Qutb Minar. The cupola was later taken down under instructions from Lord Hardinge, then Governor General of India and was installed to the east of Qutb Minar, where it rests now.
The Minar is made of red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated be balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. 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 minar tilts just over 60 cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits, although experts have stated that monitoring is needed in case rainwater seepage further weakens the foundation.
Before 1981, the general public was allowed access to the top of the minar accessed through a narrow staircase. On 4 December 1981, 45 people were killed in the stampede that followed an electricity failure that plunged the tower's staircase into darkness. Most of the victims were children because, at the time school children were allowed free access to historical monuments on Fridays. Subsequently, public access to the inside of the tower has been banned.
In popular culture
Bollywood actor and director Dev Anand wanted to shoot the song Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar from his movie Tere Ghar Ke Samne inside the minar. However, the cameras in that era were too big to fit inside the tower's narrow passage, and the song was shot inside a replica of the tower instead. The site served as the pitstop of the second leg of the second season of The Amazing Race Australia, the Australian version of the Emmy-winning series The Amazing Race. This is the first Indian monument to have an E-ticket facility.
A picture of the minaret is featured on the Travel Cards issued by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. A recently launched start-up in collaboration with Archaeological survey of India has made a 360 degree walkthrough of Qutub minar available.
Inscription panels of Kufic calligraphy running around the ornate balcony
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Media related to Qutb Minar at Wikimedia Commons