The Qutub Minar is amongst the most widely visited tourist spot in Delhi. The tower features 378 steps and was built along the guidelines of the first Islamic Turkic Sultan named Qutb-ud-din Aibak. This regal cylindrical shaped structure is observed with firm curved bands inlayed along with ornamental interpretation within the base made from red-coloured sandstone tapering from a base measuring 14.3 metres in diameter way up to the top measuring 2.75 metres in diameter.
The Tower was named after the Sultan, who had it built however, another version states that it was established in memory of a Sufi Saint named Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki. The architecture follows the design of Jam Minar and several Minarets that were established by the Ghurids of Afghanistan. The Tower saw its initial phase of construction in 1193 AD, made way by demolishing the remains of 27 Jain Temples.
Prior to the construction of the Qutub Minar, The ancient city of Lal Kot existed over this very spot and it was then demolished by Sultan Aibak to make way for this majestic structure and the ones surrounding it. The fragmented debris of the Jain Temples including red sandstones were collectively utilised to build the Qutb Minar, which began to take shape around 1193 AD.
The Sultan lived on, only to see its base and the first floor completed. However, it was his successor, Sultan Iltutmish who erected 3 more storeys followed by the 5th and the last floor completed by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1386 AD. The 4th floor was destroyed during a massive earthquake and henceforth, Firoz Shah Tughlaq renovated the tower with significant features such as the pavilions, inclusive of the 4th and 5th floors compelely furnished with white marble.
Qutub Minar reflects a fusion of Indo-Islamic architecture and is pioneered as being the first of its kind to be erected. It has stood the test of time, etching its name as we all see it today. This structure showcases the architectural genius of 3 Imperial generations of and clearly narrates the distinct styles as seen in each floor. The Tower features a number of round shaped shafts that taper and are segregated by small balconies seen with intricate stalactite designs. The first floor showcases both circular and pointed ornamental grooves while the second and third floors feature star shaped ornamental grooves.
The Qutub Minar is carved with intricate designs and etched with the verses from the Holy Quran engraved in it. Another distinct feature is a line that was probably carved out by a Hindu craftsman. It reads that the Minar was conceived by the grace of Vishwa Karma, probably referring to the fact that every inch of this tower engrains the stones of the Holy ancient Jain Temples.
The real reason behind the establishment of the Qutub Minar may be known only to its creator; however, the theory to it is that it was created to proclaim the victory and domination of the Sultan and the Islamic province over Delhi. A version goes that this tower was erected as a Defence mechanism from where one could look out for unwarranted enemy advancement while another version states that it was erected as an exclusive tower referred to as the 'Minar of Jami Mosque'. The said purpose was its usage by the 'Muzim' or 'Muezzin', a Muslim priest from where he could lead the daily 'Prayer Call' or the 'Salat sessions held within the Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque that lies in close proximity to the Minar.
The Qutub Minar witnessed several earthquakes and one massive one was experienced in 1505 AD that caused immense damage to the tower. It was in 1794 AD when another earthquake struck and the pavilions built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq Minar were partially damaged, These were then replaced by Major Smith. In 1848, Lord Hardinge replaced these pavilions, giving then his own personal touch.
Tapering at a height of 72.5 metres, the Qutub Minar is considered as the tallest ancient brick minaret in the world. It depicts an important example of the Indo-Islamic Architecture featuring a base diameter of 14.3 metres wide while the topmost floor measuring 2.7 metres wide in diameter. The Qutub Complex was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, forming as a protected area under ASI.
The Qutub Minar remains open on all days between 1000 hours and 1700 hours and charges an entry fee of Rs. 10/- per person for Indian Citizens and Rs. 250/- per person for Foreign Nationalities. Also note that these charges are subject to change and may differ accordingly. Photography and Video camera are charged extra @ Rs. 25/- per camera.
Ala-i-Minar is another tower that was commissioned for construction by Ala-Ud-Din-Khilji. It was to be erected at twice the height of Qutub Minar, however, the Sultan’s demise left it incomplete. It was constructed only up to a height of 25.4 meter.
The Iron Pillar is housed within the Qutub Complex. It is rust resistant ancient pillar erected by Chandragupta II Vikramaditya during the year 400 AD. It measures 7 meters tall and continue to amaze numerous metallurgists owing to its rust-free metal blend that still manages to keep it strong and resilient to harsh climatic conditions.