Listed as one of India’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, Qutub Minar or Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret located in New Delhi. Considered to be the pride of Delhi, the minaret is visited by at least three million visitors each year making it a favorite and one of the most visited tourist destinations in India. This tower symbolizes the power of Islam, a tower of defense and victory.
Inspired by the Minaret of Jam found in Afghanistan, Qutub Minar is a five-storey tower constructed by Qutab-un-din-Aibak, the earliest Muslim ruler of Delhi. The tower was built in 1192 and was believed to be completed by Qutab-un-din-Aibak’s successor, Iltutmish. However, some historians believed that it was Prithviraj or Vigraharaja who finished constructing the tower. Everyone agrees though that it was completed in 1200 A.D. and was used by Khilji and Tughlaq kings to watch the Mongol army when it threatened to conquer Delhi.
According to the Persian inscription etched in the inner eastern gateway, to create this magnificent structure, Qutab-un-din-Aibak tore down twenty-seven Jain and Hindu temples to reuse the materials in constructing the tower. The same materials were also used on the Quwwat-un-Islam mosque located nearby.
Surrounded by ancient and medieval structures and ruins in what is called the Qutub Complex, Qutub Minar is remarkable for being one of the earliest and most well-known examples of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture — a great example of Mughal architecture. It is a close second to the Victory Tower at Chappar Chiri as the highest tower in India.
The five-storey tower contains 379 stairs that winds up to the top while the base is built with alternate angular and circular flutings with balconies on the sides. Verses from the Qur’an (Koran) are carved along the sandstone walls, encouraging people to pray in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
With a height of 72.5 meters, a base diameter of 14.32 meters and the top tower at 2.75 meters, Qutub Minar provides a wonderful view of the city from the top. Visitors can see the Hauz Khas Complex on the left side and the Siri Fort and the walls of Jahanpanah on the right. Visitors can also see Humayun’s Tomb, Firoz Shah, Tughlaqabad, Purana Qila and Jama Masjid from the top of Qutub Minar.
Qutub Minar is found in a site where several other notable structures are worth visiting as well. The Qutub Complex includes the Iron Pillar, one of the world’s metallurgical curiosities. The Iron Pillar is often visited by tourists because of its traditional belief that if a person stands in front of the pillar with his back facing the column and can wrap their arms around it, all his or her wishes will comes true. Because of this, and also to protect the structure, the government surrounded it with a fence to keep it well-maintained and safe.
Throughout the ages, the tower has met damages due to earthquakes and other natural conditions. Constant repair and renovations by rulers and governments ensured that its beauty and magnificence is preserved. However, because of these reasons, the tower is not as perfectly straight anymore. A closer look will let you realize that it is somewhat tilting to one side, that only adds to the uniqueness of this must-see site.