When we look at Qutub Minar, and the other monuments near it, we are looking at history between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Qutb-ud-din Aybak was the governor of northern India from year 1193 and, later, the ruler from 1206-1210. The construction of Qutub Minar started in the year 1193. During Qutb-ud-din’s lifetime, the base of the Minar was completed. Qutb-ud-din’s son-in-law, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, became the ruler of Delhi in 1211. Iltutmish ruled from 1211 to 1236. During his reign, three stories were added to the Qutub Minar. Iltutmish died in the year 1236 and appointed his daughter Razia Sultan as his successor. But a woman ruler was not acceptable to the nobles and there a period of instability and power struggle in which Razia and others lost their lives. Finally, Ghiyas ud din Balban, became the ruler of Delhi in the year 1266 and ruled till his death in 1287. After his death, there was again instability till Jalal-ud-Din Firuz Khilji became the ruler from 1290-1296. Jalal-ud-Din Firuz Khilji was succeeded by his nephew, Ala-ud-din Khilji. Ala-ud-din Khilji, ruled during the years 1296-1316.
Qutb Minar (pronounced Qoot-ub Minar), a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Delhi, India. The Qutb Minar, constructed with red sandstone, marble, lime mortar and rubble masonry, is the tallest brick minaret in the world, with a height of 72.5 metres (237.8 ft). It has five storeys and each floor is separated from the one below it and the one above it by a series of elaborately decorated balconies. Each of the first three storeys is tells about the architecture in vogue at the time. There were originally seven storeys. A copula that made the top two fell in an earthquake. The Mughals tried to replace it. The new copula didn’t chime in well with the rest of the building so it was removed. Currently, it contains 379 stairs to reach the top, and the diameter of the base is 14.32 m while it is about 2.75 m on the top.
Before 1981, 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 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 banned.
The Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated be balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. The minar tilts just over 60 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. Qutub Minar is not a standalone construction.
It’s an amalgamation of several buildings in the vicinity of one another. The important buildings surrounding this tower include: Alai-Darwaza, Tomb of Iltutmish and two mosques. The Darawaza (Gate) is a quintessential example of Indo-Islamic architecture which flourished after this period on the Subcontinent. The architecture of the mosque is idiosyncratic in several ways. The most visible are the columns inside the mosque; of which none resembles the other. This was in stark contrast to other mosques in other parts of the world, where uniformity was highly priced. The nearby Iron Pillar is one of the world’s foremost metallurgical curiosities, standing in the famous Qutb complex. Tradition assigns the erection of the Pillar to Anang Pal Tomar, whose name it bears, with the date 1052 C.E. According to the traditional belief, anyone who can encircle the entire column with their arms, with their back towards the pillar, can have their wish granted. Because of the corrosive qualities of sweat the government has built a fence around it for safety. The quality of Iron used in the pillar is an excellence of technology. The smoothness of the pillar surface makes it rust proof. The amalgamation of different metals with Iron produces such high quality of smoothness.
- This is the first Indian monument to have an E-ticket facility.
- Bollywood actor and director Dev Anand wanted to shoot the song Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar from his movie 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 the song was shot inside a replica of the tower instead
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