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Qutab Complex

qutab_minar_delhi1.jpgQUTAB MINAR

Spearing its way proudly into the sky, Qutab Minar with a length of 238 feet, commands a panoramic view of the green fields extending into a sprawling city of Delhi. Started in 1192 by the slave king, Qutab-ud-Din Aibak, the tower was built in three stages. Qutab-ud-Din completed the first storey while the other three were built by Iltutmish in 1230. The Minar was damaged in 1322 and then repaired by Mohammad Bin Tughlak and again in 1368 by Firoz Shah Tughlak. All the five storeys of the tapering Qutab Minar consist of ornamental bands of Koranic inscriptions. Each storey is marked by a balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, while the fourth and fifth are of marble of sandstone. The most outstanding feature of the tower is the stalactite support to the balconies and the circular plan with its alternating semi-circular and angular flutings.


To mark his victory over Rai Pithora, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak built the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (Might of Islam) in 1192 which was completed in 1198. It is the earliest extant mosque in India, having a rectangular court. The court is enclosed by cloisters which were erected with carved columns and other architectural members from the 27 Hindu and Jain temples, which were later demolished.


The complex also hosts an Iron Pillar in the courtyard of the mosque. The quality of the iron used for constructing the pillar is exceptionally pure and has not rusted even after 2000 years. An inscription in Sanskrit clearly indicates that it was initially erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar. It was raised in memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta Vikramaditya, who ruled from 375 to 413. It is said to have been brought to Delhi by the Tomar king Anangpal, somewhere in the 11th century.


Also located in the complex is the Iltutmish Tomb, northwest to the Iron Pillar. Iltutmish died in 1236, but had his tomb built a year earlier in 1235. This is a landmark in Indo- Islamic architecture.


Described as one of the most treasured gems of Islamic architecture, this gate was built on entirely Islamic principles. lt is the first building employing whole Islamic principles of accurate construction and geometric ornamentation. The Alai Darwaza is a square, domed building with intricate carvings in red sandstone and marble.


Ala-ud-Din wanted to build a second tower of victory twice as high as Qutab Minar but when he died the tower had reached only 27 meters and later no one was willing to continue his over ambitious project. Alai Minar is the uncompleted tower today which stands to the north of the Qutab Minar and the mosque.

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