Built in 1316 within the Qutb Minar complex by Aladdin Khilji, the Sultan who succeeded Iltutmish, his namesake Madrassa served as a theological school. It is an L-shaped structure with two domes and a few pointed arches, and next to it is his ruined mausoleum. Surprisingly, both lack any ornamentation which is a striking a contrast to other nearby structures that he built, such as the Alai Darwaza. He was also responsible for the Alai Minar, the unfinished tower that was to be twice the height of Qutb Minar.
The most magnificent structure in this complex, the triumphal tower, Qutb Minar rises to a dizzying height of 72 metres. It was commissioned in 1193 by Qutb al-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate, as a tower to symbolise the victory of Islam and the minaret of the adjacent grand mosque, Quwwat ul Islam Masjid. Only the lower part of the tower (29 metres) was completed in his lifetime, and it was left to his successor, Iltutmish, to add three more floors. Following slight damage from a lightning strike in 1368, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq added the top two floors, which make use of white marble. The design of the tower was inspired by Afghani tower architecture, brought over by the Moslems, but with a mix of Hindu and Islamic decorative motifs. The result is this stunning tower with intricately carved decorations.
For more detailed photos of this stunning monument, check out the travelogue: "Qutb Minar."
A ruined but stunning mausoleum, the Tomb of Iltutmish was built in 1235 by Shamsuddine Iltutmish himself a year before his death. He was the Sultan who had succeeded Qutb al-Din Aibak, the founder of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate. Iltutmish had enlarged the Mosque of Quwwat ul Islam in the Qutb complex and built his own mausoleum next to the enlargement. He utilised local artisans who adapted Hindu style decorative motifs into Islamic form and art to create this wonderfully carved structure, but he refrained from recycling materials from older Hindu temples. Koranic verses in Arabic script are surrounded by floral and geometric motifs. The dome of the mausoleum collapsed twice and was never rebuilt after the last time. The importance of this mausoleum lies in the fact that it is one of the earliest examples of the use of arches in domes in India, both of which were introduced to India by the Moslems and were previously unknown.
Alai Darwaza is the sole survivor of four monumental gateways commissioned by Sultan Aladdin Khilji for the Qutb Minar complex. It was built in 1305 and consists of a square structure with four archways, topped by a shallow dome. Its sandstone and marble façades are very intricately carved with Arabic script and floral and geometric motifs that derive from a synthesis of two distinct decorative styles, Hindu and Islamic. Alai Darwaza is on the southern side of the complex, right next to the Qutb Minar tower.
This tomb is probably the latest structure in the complex. It was built in the early 16th century, next to the Alai Darwaza, for Imam Muhammed Ali, or Imam Zamin, a saint from Turkestan who settled in India in around 1500. He had the tomb built during his lifetime, and was buried there after his death in 1539.
It is constructed on a raised platform; an octagonal sandstone building surmounted by a dome, decorated with white marble and perforated screens knowns as jalis.
At the back of the complex stands this building which consists of the tomb of Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316 AD), the second Sultan of Delhi of the Khilji dynasty, and the madrasa, or Islamic school, that he had built. It is actually the first example in India of a tomb being built next to a madrasa.
This tomb was built in 1235 for Iltutmish, the second Sultan of Delhi (1211-1236 AD). It consists of a 9 metre square chamber of red sandstone, with a centrally placed white marble cenotaph on a raised platform. It is now roofless, but is believed to have once been covered by a dome, since collapsed. The entrance and interior walls are covered with ornate carving, in which parakeets now roost. It's a very atmospheric place, I really loved it.
This unfinished minar or tower, with it's extant height of 24.5m, was commenced by Alauddin (or Ala-ud-Din) Kalji, (1296-1316 AD), who had also doubled the size of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid. He planned for the Alai Minar to be twice the height of the Qutb Minar, to be in better proportion to the enlarged mosque, but construction was halted before more than the first storey was completed due to his death.
The iron pillar once stood in the complex of 27 Hindu and Jain temples that originally stood on the site of the Qutb Minar. It stands 7 metres (22ft) high, and apparently weighs more than 6 tons! It is 98% pure wrought iron, and is curious for the fact that it has resisted corrosion for so many centuries. It is believed to have been made at the time of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (375–413), but may be even older than that. The pillar bears a Sanskrit inscription in Brahmi script (second photo, the translation of which is in the third photo).
There is a popular superstition that if you stand with your back to the pillar and can encircle it with your arms, your wish will be granted. A fence has now been erected around the pillar to protect it from tourists wishing to try their luck!
The Alai Darwaza is the main gateway from the southern side of the Quwwat ul Islam Masjid, and was built on the orders of Alauddin Khilji around 1311 AD. It is built of red sandstone with inlaid white marble decorations, and consists of a single hall with a domed ceiling. This represents a huge achievement - it was the first true dome to be built in India, as earlier domes were either unsuccessful or 'false'. The east, west and south doorways are horseshoe arches, also used here for the first time, while the northern door is a more indigenous semi-circular arch.
It is a truly beautiful piece of architecture, and makes for some wonderful photos!
The Qutb complex is a group of building and monuments in Mehrauli, south-west Delhi, the best-known of which is the Qutb Minar dating from 1192 AD. Other important parts of the complex include the Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar, the Iron pillar, and the tombs of Iltutmish, Alauddin Khilji and Imam Zamin.
The complex was constructed upon the ruins of a group of 27 Hindu and Jain temples, whose building materials were reused.
Entry to the complex in Feb 2009 was 250rupees - tickets from the booth across the road from the entrance.
Known as the Might of Islam Mosque, it was the first mosque to be built in Delhi after the Islamic conquest, and is the earliest extant mosque in India. Begun in 1193, it consists of a rectangular courtyard, 43 by 33 metres, enclosed by cloisters which were erected by Qutb-ud-din Aibak with the carved columns and other architectural details from the 27 Hindu and Jain temples originally on the site.
A massive stone screen, pierced by five arches, was erected in front of the prayer-hall to impart a more Islamic character to the building. The screen is beautifully carved with borders of inscriptions and geometrical and arabesque designs, but the hand of craftsmen used to Hindu techniques is nevertheless apparent in the naturalistic curved lines.
The mosque was subsequently englarged by two later rulers; Shamsudin Iltutmish (1211-36 AD) and Alauddin Khalji (1206-1316 AD) added screens of a purely Islamic design, carved with motifs abounding in geometric patterns.
The Qutb Minar is the world's tallest brick minaret, at 72.5m, and was built in 1192-3 on the orders of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, to commemorate his victory in conquering the city, under the command of Mohammed Ghori of Ghazi. Qutb-ud-din Aibak became the founder of the Ghulam Dynasty and the first sultan of Delhi after Mohammed Ghori's death in 1206. He was India's first Muslim ruler.
The Qutb Minar was inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, and is five stories of red sandstone and white marble, tapering from 14.3m in diameter at it's base to a mere 2.75 at it's peak. Qutb-ud-din Aibak only completed the first story; the next three were built by his successor Iltutmish, and the fifth was added by Firuz Shah Tughluq in 1386. During his reign the top two stories were damaged in an earthquake and were repaired - these two are now of white marble rather than the red sandstone of the lower stories. Another earthquake in 1794 again damaged the structure and an engineer called Major Smith repaired it and replaced the pavilion at the top with a chhatri in the Bengali style - this was removed in 1848 and can be seen in the grounds.
The Qutb Minar is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Qutub Minar is the world's tallest brick structure. It is 72 meters high (237.8 ft) and has 379 steps leading to the top. However, the entrance is now closed due to the risk involved in climbing the steps. The base diameter is 14.3 meters and the top diameter is 2.75 meters. It has five storeys. It is inspired by the design of the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and the attempt was to make it taller. The construction of this tower was started in 1193 under the orders of India's first Muslim ruler from the slave dynasty Qutub-ud-din Aibak. However he died after completing only the first storey. The next three storeys were completed by his successor Iltutmish while the topmost storey of the minaret was completed in 1386 by Firuz Shah Tughluq. The difference of the kings constructing the minaret is reflected in the difference in design of the various storeys.
The entire complex consists of a number of ancient and medieval structures and ruins and is collectively known as Qutub complex. The Qutub complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very popular tourist destinations in Delhi.
There is a controversy as to whether the minaret was named after Qutub-ud-din Aibak who commenced its construction or after Qutub-uddin Bakhtiar Kaki, the saint from Baghdad who came to live in India and was greatly respected by Iltutmish.
The impressive five storey tower was built in 1193 by Qutubuddin Aibak, a slave of the Muslim raider Mohammad Ghauri to mark the first Muslim dynasty in India.
Next to the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, a construction of Islamic domes, arches and carved decorative panels from Jain and Hindu temples. Qutb Minar is a World Heritage Monument.
Cost of entry is 250 rupees per foreign visitor with no extra camera fees.