Qutb-Minar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in red and buff standstone is the highest tower in India. It has a diameter of 14.32 m at the base and about 2.75 m on the top with a height of 72.5 m.
As per the official history of the Minar , the construction of it was started by Qutubuddin Aibak of the Mamluk dynasty in 1192 . He modelled the Minar on the famous Sassanian towers of Jur and Firozabad in Persia . At the time of his demise he could complete only the first storey with red and buff rubble masonry with 24 superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts . The further three storeys were completed in matching colour and style by his son in law and successor Iltutmish in 1230
The Minar is made of Dark red sandstone covered with Iron intricate carvings and verses from the Quran. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth and sixth storeys are of marble and sandstone. It has about 379 stairs
The Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts. The storeys of Qutab Minar are separated by projected balconies carried on Muqaranas corbels and supported by stone brackets . These balconies were constructed by a technique known as Stalactite vaulting . Here a series of mini arches supported a series of little brackets , together holding the entire balcony . In the Minar , the little alcoves were patterned with honey combing , giving it an intricately wrought feeling . After the Minar was hit by the lightning first time in 1368 , Firuz Shah Tughluq replaced the top storey by the existing two storeys clad in white marble .
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
The plain fluted masonry of the Minar’s great shaft was ornamented by the wide encircling bands inscribed with Naskh lettering and beautiful Kufic Calligraphy of verses from the Qur’an . Interestingly one engraving on the Minar read “ Shri Vishwakarma prasade rachita “ ( Conceived with the grace of Vishwakarma ) . In between these bands there are smaller bands of floral and Hindu architectural motifs.
Numerous inscriptions in Arabic and Nagari characters in different places of the minar reveal the history of Qutb.
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the north-east of minar was built by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak in AD 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 Qutbu’d-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance.
Ala’i-Darwaza, the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque just 12 m away from the Qutub Minar. This is the first building employing Islamic principles of construction and ornamentation.
It is the first dome shaped Turkik gate in India , made of finely worked red sandstone with an external relief of marble disposed in incised bands and panels and decorated with stunning Turkic features and inscriptions engraved in the ancient Naskh Script and screens made with Lattice stones depicting unique Turkic craftsmanship , named after the first Khalji Sultan Ala-ud-din Khalji was constructed in 1311 . The geometric design of the Darwaza was inspired by Saljuqian characteristics which had immensely influenced the architecture of the Khalji dynasty . The Darwaza measuring 17.3 x 17.3 m externally and 10.5 x 10.5 m internally with a 14.1 m high shallow dome mounting over a huge ornamental octagonal base having a central knob and its interior fringed with embellishment of lotus buds and sequences had arched openings designed in pointed Moorish horseshoe shaped styles on all the sides except the northern side where the arch was semi circular . All these arches were built really true in nature using radiating voussoirs leading into an interior central chamber .
On the outside , bands of marble and sandstone depicting various geometrical and floral patterns , covered the Darwaza’s entire surface . The perforated , latticework window screens were set in the recessed windows on both sides of the entrances . These marble screens set off the monotony of vertical lines of calligraphic ornamentation
Iron Pillar (Mehrauli Pillar)
It is a 7 m (23 ft) column with 1 m below the ground iron pillar known as Garud Stambha having bottom diameter of 48 cm tapering to 29 cm at the top , just below the base of wonderfully crafted capital weighing 6.5 tonnes is the most enigmatic pillar in the world , as there was no visible evidence of rusting on it even though it was more than 1600 years old.
The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists and materials scientists and has been called “a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths” because of its high resistance to corrosion. The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the high phosphorus content iron, which serves to protect it from the effects of the local Delhi climate.
The pillar weighs over 6,000 kg, and is thought to have originally been erected in what is now Udayagiri by one of the Gupta monarchs in approximately 402 CE, though the precise date and location are a matter of dispute. It was transported to its current location in 1233 CE.
The Alai Minar is an unfinished tower in the Qutub Complex, construction of which was started by Alauddin Khilji. After Khilji had doubled the size of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque he decided to constructed a tower which would be twice the height of the Qutub Minar. Construction of the Alai Minar came to a halt in 1316 following the death of Alauddin Khilji. Today the Alai Minar, a massive red rubble structure stands at a height of 24.5 meters.
Architecture around the Complex
Various ornate pillars around the Qutub Complex
How to Reach:
Qutub minar can be reached via Delhi Metro rail. Take the yellow line and get down at Qutub Minar station. From there its a 10min walk or you can take shared autos or rikshaw.
Entry ticket to Indian nationals costs ₹10 and foreign nationals is ₹250