India Habitat Centre
Habitat Library & Resource Centre
IHC Walk: February 10, 2008
Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
A map of the Qutb complex
The Qutb complex is an array of monuments and buildings at Mehrauli in Delhi, India, the most famous of which is the Qutub Minar. This complex was first constructed by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty, and his successor Iltutmish (aka Altmash) in his new city called the Qila-Rai-Pithora near Prithivraj Chauhan's older city. The complex was added to by many subsequent rulers, including Iltutmish and Ala ud din Khilji as well as the British. The most famous monument situated in the complex is the Qutub Minar; other important constructions in the complex are the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, the Ala-I-Darwaza, the Alai Minar and the iron pillar. Twenty-seven previous Jain temples were destroyed and their materials reused to construct the minar and other monuments of the complex. Qutub Minar
At 72.5 metres high, the Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world, and an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture. The Qutub Minar is 72.5 metres (239 ft) high. The diameter of the base is 14.3 metres wide while the top floor measures 2.7 metres in diameter. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with surrounding buildings and monuments.
The purpose for building this beautiful monument has been speculated upon, apart from the usual role of a minaret - that of calling people for prayer in a mosque- in this case the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Other reasons ascribed to its construction are as a tower of victory, a monument signifying the might of Islam, or a watch tower for defence. Controversy also surrounds the origins for the name of the tower. Many historians believe that the Qutub Minar was named after the first Turkish sultan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak but others contend that it was named in honour of Khwaja Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint from Baghdad who came to live in India who was greatly venerated by Akbar. Alai Minar
The incomplete Alai Minar.
Ala ud din Khilji started building the Alai Minar, which was conceived to be two times higher than Qutub Minar. The construction was abandoned, however, after the completion of the 24.5 meter high first storey; soon after death of Ala-ud-din. The first story of the Alai Minar still stands today.
Many types of structure still stand in the complex.
Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque (Might of Islam) (also known as the Qutb Mosque or the Great Mosque of Delhi) was built by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, founder of the Mamluk or Slave dynasty. The mosque construction started in the 1190s when Aibak was the commander of Muhammad Ghori's garrison occupied Delhi. Expansion of the mosque continued after the death of Qutub. His successor Iltutmish extended the original prayer hall screen by three more arches. By the time of Iltutmish, the Mamluk empire had stabilized enough that the Sultan could replace most of his conscripted Hindu masons with Muslims. This explains why the arches added under Iltutmish are stylistically more Islamic than the ones erected under Qutb's rule.
The mosque is in ruins today but indigenous corbelled arches, floral motifs, and geometric patterns can be seen among the Islamic architectural structures.
To the west of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque is the tomb of Iltutmish which was built by the monarch in 1235. Ala-I-Darwaza
The Ala-I-Darwaza is a magnificent gateway in the complex. The gateway was built by the first Khilji sultan of Delhi, Ala ud din Khilji. The gateway is decorated with inlaid marble decorations, latticed stone screens and showcases the remarkable craftsmanship of the Turkish artisans who worked on it. it is considered to one of the best building built in the sultanat period.with its horse shoe shaped arches it aads a grace to the quw'at'ul islam mosque to which it...
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