Minar in Delhi, India
|Height||72.5 metres (238 ft)|
|Architectural style(s)||Islamic Architecture|
|Designated||1993 (17th session)|
|Construction||Started in 1199 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak / completed in ~ 1220 by his son-in-law Iltutmish|
The Qutb Minar, also spelled as Qutub Minar and Qutab Minar, is a minaret and "victory tower" that forms part of the Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of New Delhi, India. The height of Qutb Minar is 72.5 meters, making it the tallest minaret in the world built of bricks. The tower tapers, and has a 14.3 metres (47 feet) base diameter, reducing to 2.7 metres (9 feet) at the top of the peak. It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps.
Its closest comparator is the 62-metre all-brick Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, of c.1190, a decade or so before the probable start of the Delhi tower. The surfaces of both are elaborately decorated with inscriptions and geometric patterns; in Delhi the shaft is fluted with "superb stalactite bracketing under the balconies" at the top of each stage. In general minarets were slow to be used in India, and are often detached from the main mosque where they exist.
It was built over the ruins of the Lal Kot, the citadel of Dhillika. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a deputy of Muhammad of Ghor, who founded the Delhi Sultanate after Muhammad of Ghor's death, started construction of the Qutb Minar's first storey in 1199. This level has inscriptions praising Muhammad of Ghor. Aibak's successor and son-in-law Shamsuddin Iltutmish completed a further three storeys. After a lightning strike in 1369 damaged the then top storey, the ruler at the time, Firuz Shah Tughlaq, replaced the damaged storey, and added one more. Sher Shah Suri also added an entrance while he was ruling and the Mughal emperor Humayun was in exile.
It is usually thought that the tower is named for Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who began it, but it is also possible that it is named after Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki a 13th-century sufi saint; Shamsuddin Iltutmish was a devotee of his.
The Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments of the Qutb complex. Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the north-east of the Minar was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in A.D. 1198. It is the earliest extant - mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Hindu and Jaina temples, which were demolished by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance. Later, a lofty arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged, by Shams-ud- Din Itutmish (A.D. 1210-35) and Ala-ud-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard bears an inscription in Sanskrit in Brahmi script of fourth century A.D., according to which the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja (standard of god Vishnu) on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra.
Qutub Minar was begun after the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which was started around 1192 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. The mosque complex is one of the earliest that survives in the Indian subcontinent.
The Minar's topmost storey was damaged by lightning in 1369 and was rebuilt by Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who added another storey. In 1505, an earthquake damaged Qutub Minar; it was repaired by Sikander Lodi. On 1 September 1803, a major earthquake caused serious damage. Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army renovated the tower in 1828 and installed a pillared cupola over the fifth storey, thus creating a sixth. The cupola was taken down in 1848, under instructions from The Viscount Hardinge, then Governor General of India. It was reinstalled at ground level to the east of Qutb Minar, where it remains. It is known as "Smith's Folly".
It was added to the list of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. It is one of most visited tourist spots in Delhi.
Parso-Arabic and Nagari in different sections of the Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction, and the later restorations and repairs by Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351–88) and Sikandar Lodi (1489–1517).
It has five superposed storeys. The lowest three comprise fluted cylindrical shafts or columns of pale red sandstone, separated by flanges and by storeyed balconies, carried on Muqarnas corbels. The fourth column is of marble, and is relatively plain. The fifth is of marble and sandstone. The flanges are a darker red sandstone throughout, and are engraved with Quranic texts and decorative elements. The whole tower contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. At the foot of the tower is the Quwat ul Islam Mosque. The Minar tilts just over 65 cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits. Quotations from the Quran are inscribed on the walls of the monument.
Before 1976, the general public was allowed access to the first floor of the minaret, via the internal staircase. Access to the top was stopped after 2000 due to suicides. On 4 December 1981, the staircase lighting failed. Between 400 and 500 visitors stampeded towards the exit. 47 were killed and some were injured. Most of these were school children. Since then, the tower has been closed to the public. Since this incident the rules regarding entry have been stringent.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem The Qutb Minar, Delhi is a reflection on an engraving in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833.
In popular culture
Bollywood actor and director Dev Anand wanted to shoot the song "Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar" from his film 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 therefore the song was shot inside a replica of the Qutb Minar
A picture of the minaret is featured on the travel cards and tokens issued by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. A recently launched start-up in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India has made a 360o walkthrough of Qutb Minar available.
Ministry of Tourism recently gave seven companies the 'Letters of Intent' for fourteen monuments under its 'Adopt a Heritage Scheme.' These companies will be the future 'Monument Mitras.' Qutb Minar has been chosen to part of that list.
Left to Right:Alai Darwaza, Qutb Minar, Imam Zamin's tomb
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