Qutub Minar Complex

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The Qutb Minar complex is a historic monuments complex, dating back to the Delhi Sultanate, at Mehrauli in Delhi, India. The complex is named after its most significant landmark structure, Qutub Minar. It contains masterpieces of Indo-Islamic art and remnants of far older civilizations.

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Overview

The construction of the Qutub Minar "victory tower" in the complex, named after the religious figure Sufi Saint Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, was begun by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi of the Mamluk dynasty.

His successor Iltutmish continued its construction and contributed significantly, and finally completed much later by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, a Sultan of Delhi from the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1412) in 1368 CE. The Qubbat-ul-Islam Mosque (Dome of Islam), later corrupted into Quwwat-ul Islam, stands next to the Qutb Minar.

Notable Structures

circa 390 CE

Iron Pillar
The metal column, known as the Iron Pillar of Delhi, was originally erected by Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (375–414 CE) in front of a Vishnu Temple complex at Udayagiri around 402 CE, and later shifted by Anangpal in the 10th century CE from Udaygiri to its present location. The pillar is 7.21-metre high and weighs more than six tonnes. The pillar bears an inscription in Sanskrit in Brahmi script dating 4th century CE, which indicates that the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja, standard of god, on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra, believed to Chandragupta II.

circa 1200 CE

Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque
The Masjid Quwwat-ul-Islam, literally meaning "Might of Islam", was commissioned by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, founder of the Mamluk or Slave dynasty and built using spolia from 27 temples. It was the first mosque built in Delhi after the Islamic conquest of India and the oldest surviving example of Ghurids architecture in Indian subcontinent. The construction started in the year 1193 CE, when Aibak was the commander of Muhammad Ghori's garrison that occupied Delhi. Subsequently it was extended by several notable people. The mosque is in ruins today but indigenous corbelled arches, floral motifs, and geometric patterns can be seen among the Islamic architectural structures.

circa 1235 CE

Tomb of Iltutmish
The tomb of Shams ud-Din Iltutmish, second Sultan of Delhi, is a notable part of the Qutb Minar Complex. The facade is known for its ornate carving, both at the entrance and the interior walls. The interior west wall has a prayer niche (mihrab) decorated with marble, and a rich amalgamation of Hindu motifs into Islamic architecture, such as bell-and-chain, tassel, lotus, diamond emblems. The central chamber is a 9 square meters and has squinches, suggesting the existence of a dome, which has since collapsed. in 1914, the grave chamber was discovered. From the north of the tomb 20 steps lead down to the actual burial vault.

circa 1300 CE

Madrasa and Tomb of 'Ala ud-Din Khilji
The Madrasa and Tomb of 'Ala ud-Din Khilji is a funerary complex within the Qutub Minar Complex. It is an L-shaped construction, situated at the back of the complex, southwest of the Quwwat ul-Islam mosque. The central room of the building, which contains the Sultan's tomb/grave, has now lost its dome, though many rooms of the seminary or college are intact, and since been restored. The remains of the tomb building suggest that there was an open courtyard on the south and west sides of the tomb building, and that one room in the north served as an entrance. It was the first example in India, of a tomb standing alongside a madrasa. The tomb-complex is in a very dilapidated condition today.

circa 1310 CE

'Alai Minar
The 'Alai Minar, (literally meaning the tower of 'Ala ud-Din Khilji), is a medieval era unfinished landmark. The partially constructed tower was conceived to be two times higher than the Qutb Minar in proportion with the enlarged Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. The construction was however abandoned, just after the completion of the 25-metre-high (82 feet) first-story core; soon after the death of Alauddin in 1316, and never taken up by his successors of Khalji Dynasty.

circa 1311 CE

'Alai Darwaza
The Ala'i Darwaza (Gate of Alauddin), built by Sultan Alauddin Khalji, is the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. Constructed out of red sandstone, it is a square domed gatehouse with arched entrances and houses a single chamber. It was a part of his plan to extend the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque on four sides, but only this gate was completed before his death in 1316. There is extensive Arabic calligraphy on the walls of the Darwaza. The Alai Darwaza is made up of a single hall, with the interior measuring some 34.5 feet (10.5 meters) and exterior measures some 56.5 feet (17.2 meters) in length. It is 60 feet (18 meters) tall and the walls are 11 feet (3.4 meters) thick.

circa 1550 CE

Tomb of Imam Zamin
The Tomb of Imam Zamin is a 16th-century CE tomb located in the Qutb Minar complex. It houses the tomb of Mohammad Ali (popularly known as Imam Zamin), an Islamic cleric who migrated from Turkestan to India during the reign of Sikandar Lodi. The tomb was built by Ali himself during the reign of Mughal emperor Humayun. This tomb has no relation with the other monuments of the complex.

circa 1823 CE

Smith's Folly
The small stand-alone structure known as the Smith's Folly is a Bengali-style chhatri, constructed by Major R. Smith to replace the cupola of Qutub Minar when he repaired the historic structure in 1823 CE. In 1848 CE it was removed by Governor General, Lord Hardinge as it looked out of place. Today this structure stands in the outer lawns of the complex.

circa

Chaumukha Darwaza
The stand-alone gate known as the Chaumukha Darwaza, literally meaning the "gate with four openings", was probably constructed during the Lodhi period. Originally it may have been part of the oldest fort of Delhi Lal Kot. It was later restored again during the Lodhi era. Standing and facing towards Qutub Minar, it gives a picturesque view of the Delhi's famed landmark pillar.

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See Also

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