Qutb Minar Part I

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Koentje3000 on October 26, 2006

The tallest brick minaret in the world is probably Delhi's most famous sight. The Qutb Minar and its adjacent Muslim buildings are inscribed on the world heritage list of UNESCO, the only one in Delhi apart from the wonderful Tomb of Humayun. The beautiful minaret and its accompanying mosque, the Masjid Quwwat-ul-Islam or Might of Islam Mosque, were started in 1193 by the first sultan of Delhi and founder of the Slave Dynasty, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, on the ruins of Lal Kot, the first city of Delhi. His successor and son-in-law Iltutmish finished the complex. Both were former slave soldiers, also called Mamluks in Arabic, and they originated from the Turkic people of Central-Asia.

During the next decades the complex was expanded and restored many times, even by the British. Notable extensions were made by Ala-ud-Din of the subsequent Khilji Dynasty, mainly the Ala-I-Darwaza Gate and the Alai Minar, which was supposed to be two times higher than Qutb Minar but was left unfinished at only one story and 27m. When lightning struck the fourth storey of the Qutb minaret mid-14th century, the fourth floor was restored and an additional fifth storey was built by then ruler Firoz Shah Tughlaq. These floors are the only ones to contain white marble in their construction.

The Qutb Minar is 72.5m high and rises for 5 storeys. The minaret's diameter decreases from 14m on the ground level to 3m at the top. Its design was based on the Jam Minaret in present-day Afghanistan, built by Qutb-ud-Din's predecessors of the Persian Ghuri Dynasty. Except for the subsequent white marble additions, the complete minaret is made of red sandstone bricks, alternated with sandstone carvings. Different sandstone bands carved with Koran verses in Arabic calligraphy adorn the tower. Each floor is topped with a larger sandstone balcony, decorated with suspending stalactitic structures. Entrance to the minaret is currently forbidden after a few deadly accidents took place. However, one can still see the surroundings through a camera mounted on the top floor.

(continued in part II)

The Qutab Minar Complex (Qutb Minar)
Delhi, India


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