Sunday, 25 September 2016

Delhi Diaries:Qutub Minar

Qutb complex holds a stronghold place in 664 years of Muslim rule in India.It is now the city’s logo and India’s capital is identified with Qutb complex. The important monuments of Qutb complex are Qutab Minar, Quwwat-Ul-Islam mosque, Alai-Darwaza and Alai-Minar.It was in Lalkot that Qutbud-Din-Aibak, Iltumish and Balban who were mere slaves rose to the highest position of sultans in the country.  Lalkot was also a mute witness to their soaring ambitions, untiring struggle, indefatigable energy and finally occupation of the highest position in the country. It was in lalkot that Raziya, the first and only lady sultan of India occupied her throne defying the current political, social and religious customs.Thus Lalkot stands for the emancipation of women and their empowerment.

Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret, the tallest stone tower in India was conceived by Qutbuddin-Aibak as a tower of victory attached to Quwwat-ul-Aslam mosque. Qutbuddin Aibak of the Mamluk dynasty laid the foundations towards the twelfth century and completed the first storey. The construction was interrupted at the first storey by his death and the remaining three storeys were completed in matching material and style by his successor Iltutmish commonly known as Altamash in A.D. 1230. In A.D. 1368 the minar was damaged by lightining later Firoz Shah Tughluq replaced the top storeyed by existing two storeys faced with marble. Sikander Lodhi also executed some repairs to the minar in A.D. 1503, when it was again stuck by lighting. The tower has a diameter of 14.32m at the base and of about 2.75m at the top with a height of 72.5m and ascended by 379 steps, it is the highest stone tower and a perfect example of minar known to exist anywhere. But yet it is 5ft less than the Taj Mahal. The variegated plan of its three lower storeys, the projecting balconies with stalactite pendentive brackets and ornate bands of inscriptions on its facades heighten its decorative effect. The lower storey with alternate angular and circular flutings, the second with round ones and the third with angular ones only, keeping throughout the same alignment, gives a pleasing vertical look to the minar. The decorative inscriptional bands defines each storey with its undulating curves.

At the foot of tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that the mosque was built with the remnants obtained by demolishing 27 Hindu temples. It consists of rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with carved columns. A 7 high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It bears a Sanskrit inscription in Gupta Brahmi script, palaeographical assignable to the fourth century, a date which is confirmed by the peculiar style of its amalaka capital. The inscription records that the pillar was set up as a standard of God Vishnu on the hill known as Vishnupada, in memory of mighty king Chandra. It is said to be bought to Delhi from Angapal somewhere in the 11th century. The total height of this tapering shaft is 24 feet of which 3 feet is buried inside the ground. Weighing about 6000 kg and made of corrosion free wrought iron, the pillar is metallurgical marvel of ancient India and is unique in the annals of metallurgical research. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.

The tomb of Iltutmish, successor of Qutbuddin Aibak, lie north-west of the mosque. It is the first example of Indo-Islamic structure built in India in about 1253A.D by Iltutmish where marble was used along with red sandstone.The structure consist of a tomb chamber with a central cenotaph. Its area is 9 square meters. The interior on the west is occupied by three mihrabs, the central one higher and ornamented with marble to serve as place of prayer. The tomb is profusely carved on the entrances and in the interior with inscription in Kufi and Naskh characters and geometric and arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition.

Alai-Darwaza is one of the four gateways constructed by Alaud-Din-Khilji when he extended the mosque. This is located to the southern side of the mosque. It’s a magnificent square domed building with intricate carvings in red sandstone and marble. In 1311, to commemorate his victory over the deccan  planned to build another minar double the diameter and height of Qutab Minar. But shortly after the construction began he died and it was left incomplete. The ruins of the tower can be still seen, along with a group of ruined structures of Alaud-Din-Khilji’s tomb and madrasa making an L shaped block is located to the left the mosque. The concept of a combined tomb and religious college appears here in India for the first time and is inspired by Saljuqi tradition.

1 comment: