Soaring high above the
Quwwatual Islam mosque is the tower Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak built in AD 1196
to celebrate the invincibility of Islam.
Although modelled as a
classical minaror tower from which the muezzin calls the faithful to
prayers, the Qutb Minar was a symbolic rather than a functional structure.
It would be an extraordinary muezzin who would expect to be heard from a
height of 72.5 meters - assuming, in the first place, that he managed to
trudge up the 379 steps five times, each day.
a red sandstone tower covered with beautiful and striking carvings and is
inscribed with verses from the holy Quran. Qutub Minar is still the highest
stone tower in India as well as one of the finest Islamic structures ever
raised and Delhi's recognised landmark. The sultan's successor and
son-in-law, Iltutmish, completed it.
Qutab Minar points up to
heaven on the southern side of the city. It was built in the 12th
century, and it still towers high above its surroundings.
cab driver drops you off at the gate, you are directly approached by several
persons trying to sell you anything from postcards to a nice embrace with an
enormous snake. As you escape them, and after paying the entrance fee, you
enter the area that houses the Qutab Minar.
Not only that, it is
also to several buildings, although most of them are in ruins now. You can
see the first mosque of India, right at the feet of the Qutab Minar. It was
built using building material from Hindu temples. Although many parts of the
mosque are missing or in bad shape, you can still see marvellously sculpted
ceilings, columns, and capitals. In the central square, there is an iron
pillar, unfortunately closed by a low fence. Unfortunately because, as was
the tradition, anyone who could encircle the iron pillar with his arms,
while standing with his back to it, would have his wishes fulfilled.
The Iron Pillar :
Major Attractions of Qutab Minar
The inscription records
that the pillar was set up as a standard or dhvaja of god Vishnu on the hill
known as 'Vishnupada', in the memory of a mighty king, named 'Chandra', who
is now regarded as identical with Chandragupta II (375-413) of the imperial
Gupta dynasty. A deep hole on the top of the pillar indicates that an
additional member, perhaps an image of 'Garuda', was fitted into it to
answer to its description as a standard of Vishnu.
The pillar has
been brought here evidently from somewhere, else, as no other relics of the
4th century are found at the site. There is a strong bardic tradition that
it was brought here - wherefrom, nobody knows - by Anangpal, the Tomar king
who is credited with the founding of Delhi. Quwwatu'l-Islam
Just adjacent to the tower is the mosque of Quwwatu'l-Islam
Masjid, which can become a bewildering experience for those who are not
familiar with its history. It was supposed to have been built using the
materials and masonry of the remains of Hindu Temples and architecture. The
mosque was started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the first ruler of the
Slave Dynasty and was finished four years later. Alai
The ambitious rubble Alai Minar was started by Alauddin Khalji
but the sultan lived to see it only to the height of 24.5m and no body was
ready to complete his over-ambitious project. It was built to match the
enlarged Quwwatu'l-Islam Masjid. Today it is used more like an illustration,
by parents, that when you get over ambitious, the plans remain unfinished.