origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe
it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of
the Muslim rule in India. Others
say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful
to prayer. No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only
one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction
of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement.
His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys, and in 1368,
Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.
development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughlak are quite
evident in the minar. The relief work and even the materials used
for construction differ. The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at
the base and tapers to nine feet at the apex. The tower is ornamented
by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported
by elaborately decorated brackets. Even in ruin, the Quwwat Ul Islam
(Light of Islam) Mosque in the Qutab complex is one of the most
magnificent in the world. Its construction was started by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1193 and the mosque was completed in 1197.
were made to the building by Iltutmish in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji
in 1315. The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard,
of which the inner is surrounded by an exquisite collonade, the pillars
of which are made of richly decorated shafts. Most of these shafts
are from the 27 Hindu temples which were plundered to construct
the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque
has typical Hindu ornamentation. Close to the mosque is one of Delhi's
most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar.
back to the 4th century AD, the pillar bears an inscription which
stated that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu
god, Vishnu, and in the memory of the Gupta king Chandragupta II
(375-413). How the pillar moved to its present location remains
a mystery. The pillar also highlights ancient India's achievements
in metallurgy. The pillar is made of 98 per cent wrought iron and
has stood 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing.