Qutub complex

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INTRODUCTION

The Qutb complex is one of those historic sites which can extend beyond its own historical moment to carry a much larger symbolic statement. Its ruins are presented today as a part of "Indian" antiquity, a part of each Indian’s inheritance which can be cherished. The Qutb complex situated in Mehrauli, Delhi consists of an array of monuments and buildings which stand as a testimony to the affluent historical trends and the radiant culture of Medieval India, the most famous of which is the five-storeyed, and 239 feet sandstone tower Qutb Minar. Apart from the architectural wonder Qutb Minar, other prominent monuments in the precincts of the Qutb complex include Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, i.e, one of the oldest existing mosques in India, the Alai Darwaza, the Alai Minar, the tomb of Iltutmish and the magnificent Iron Pillar. My endeavour will be to illuminate vital architectural attributes of each monument and subsequently proceed to historical interpretations by the historians from these monuments and their relative connotations in the sustenance of Delhi Sultanate. For a better understanding of the diverse historical trends of the Qutb complex, it would be expedient to have a brief knowledge of the history of Qutb complex.

Muizuddin Ghori led a series of successful military campaigns to India in the late twelfth century. Following successive defeats at Ankhud, Tarain, and Anhilwada, he registered a momentous victory at Tarain in 1192 and proceeded to defeat Raja Jai Chand of Kanauj at Chandwar. With these victories a new era in the history of Delhi(and also India) was inaugurated. During these campaigns a major role had been played by Qutubuddin Aibak (a slave general of Ghori). Muizuddin Ghori died soon and Aibek found himself a joint claimant to his master’s dominions in India along with two other fellow slaves, Nasiruddin Qabacha and Tajuddin Yaldoz. While contending with these claims, Aibek was able to successfully establish his authority, even though his status as a Sultan per se is debatable. Qutubuddin Aibek lost no time in consolidating his power by proceeding to erect monumental buildings of stone on the site of the captured Hindu stronghold of Qila Rai Pithora, which is regarded as the first of the seven cities of Delhi. Having dealt with the background, a full-fledged analysis of the monuments can be embarked upon.

QUWWAT-UL-ISLAM MOSQUE

The Quwwat ul Islam mosque is situated at the Qutb Complex, in Mehrauli, Delhi. It lies at the northeast of the Qutb Minar. It is believed to be the first mosque built in India by the new Turkish slave rulers. The construction of the mosque was commenced in 1191-92 by Qutbuddin Aibek, and relied upon material derived from plundered temples. There is an inscription(in Naskh script) above the northern entrance to the Quwwat ul Islam mosque recording the demolition of 27 Hindu and brahminical temples, the materials of which were used in the construction of the mosque. It underwent three phases of construction under three Sultans of Delhi, namely, Qutb-ud-din Aibek, Iltutmish and Ala-ud-din Khalji.

In the first phase of construction, the mosque itself is believed to have been constructed at the site of an ancient temple. Gell remarked that the intricate inscriptions have an element of magic in them. It is believed that Aibek ordered the large temple at the centre of the Hindu citadel to be dismantled. Retaining intact the chabbutra or plinth of the temple, this stone basement was enlarged to double its original size in order to form a stylo-bate sufficiently spacious to accommodate the mosque. In the first phase of construction, the mosque, 214 by 149 feet, was a relatively small rectangular structure, with a central...
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