Qutb Minar in Delhi, India
|Designated||1993 (17th session)|
Qutb Minar, (also spelled Qutub Minar) at 73 metres, is world's tallest rubble masonry minaret. Qutb 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. The Minaret of Jam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Afghanistan, is thought to have been a direct inspiration for the Qutb Minar in Delhi, which was also built by the Ghori (Mamluk) Dynasty. Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutb Minar is a 73-metres (240 feet) tall tapering tower with a diameter measuring 14.3 metres (47 feet) at the base and 2.7 metres (9 feet) at the peak. Inside the tower, a circular staircase with 379 steps leads to the top. Qutb Minar station is the closest station on the Delhi Metro.
In 1200 AD, Qutb al-Din Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, started construction of the Qutb Minar. In 1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Iltutmish added three storeys to the tower. In 1369, lightning struck the top storey, destroying it completely. So, Firoz Shah Tughlaq carried out restoration work replacing the damaged storey with two new storeys every year, made of red sandstone and white marble.
Qutb 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 Qutb Minar was commissioned by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate in 1192 AD. The minar was built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika. Aibak's successor Iltutmish added three more storeys to complete the tower.
It has not been established with certainty whether Qutb Minar has been named after Qutb-ud-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 Qutb-ud-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.
According to a Persian inscription still on the inner eastern gateway, the mosque was built by the parts of twenty-seven destroyed Hindu and Jain temples built previously during Tomars and Prithvi Raj Chauhan, and leaving certain parts of the temple outside the mosque proper. Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the iconoclasm of Qutb-ud-din Aibak. This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign, although an argument goes that such iconoclasm was motivated more by politics than by religion.
However, many historians were unanimous regarding the fact that Qutb ud-Din Aibaq like many other Muslim rulers, had a pathological bigotry and distaste towards henotheistic values, and intolerance on cultures considered anathema in Islamic dogma, which had impelled him to vandalise those historic monuments. 
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 Sikander Lodi. On 1 September 1803, a major earthquake, possibly in Garhwal Kumaun Himalaya, 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 taken down in 1848, under instructions from The Viscount Hardinge, then Governor General of India and was installed to the east of Qutab Minar, where it rests now .
and verses from the Qur'an. The Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carrying Muqarnas corbels. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth, fifth and sixth storeys are made of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat ul Islam Mosque. The minar tilts just over 65 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 1974, 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 and there were 300 to 400 people inside the minar at that time 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 stopped.
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 therefor the song was shot inside a replica of the tower. The site served as the pit stop of the second leg of the second series of The Amazing race Australia.
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 360o walkthrough of Qutb Minar available.
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