Qutab Minar – Tombs and Monuments – New Delhi

 Iron Pillar tombs and monuments New Delhi India

Iron Pillar

Qutub Minar complex is a fascinating array of tombsmonuments and buildings in the Mehrauli district of  New Delhi.   History in this complex you could say dates back to an Iron Pillar  constructed in the 4th century. The Iron Pillar  removed from Udayagiri caves near the city of Vidisha in Madhya pradesh and erected in its current place in New Delhi in 1233 CE by Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak.

IronPillar predates Qutub Minar,tombs and monuments New Delhi

4th Century Brahmi script

The Iron Pillar is seven metres in height and weighs  over 6,000 kg. The composition of metals used in its construction  considered a remarkable feat of workmanship attributed to the skill and knowledge of ancient Indian metallurgy. This is because of the Iron Pillar’s amazing survival  over the centuries against rust and corrosion. The Iron Pillar has a Brahmic inscription that predates the Islamic Minar by centuries.

Qutub minar,monuments,tombs,New Delhi

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar (Victory Tower)

The Qutub Minar is a five-story Victory Tower commissioned by Qutbuddin Aibak  in 1200 AD, and completed by his successor and son-in-law Iltutmish. Qutbuddin Aibak a former slave general,became the first Sultan of Delhi and ruled from (1206-1210). Qutbuddin Aibak built the Qutub Minar and the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque to mark the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate. Islamic rule lasted over three hundred years from 1206-1555.

Qutab Minar - b ands of intricate calligraphy

Bands of intricate calligraphy

Made from colored sandstone and decorated with bands of intricate inscriptions and verses from the Koran, the workmanship still crisp and clear after all these centuries, the calligraphy subtlety highlighted with iron oxide and designed to stand out against the sandstone bricks. The Qutub Minar comprises several superimposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by four balconies supported by decorative brackets known as muqarnas corbels. The brackets bare closer inspection, they adorn the elegant tower like an exquisite elaborately designed  lace ruff (worn by European women in the Elizabethan era).  The first three storeys of the Qutub Minar  made of red sandstone, the fourth, fifth and sixth storeys are a contrast in white marble and sandstone.  The Qutab Minar is a stunning piece of architecture, and at 238 ft in height towers majestically over the entire complex. It is the tallest brick minaret in the world.

Qutub Minar - balconies,tombs,monuments,New Delhi

Balconies supported by muqarnas corbels.

Sadly you are not allowed to view the interior of the Qutub Minar any more due to a terrible tragedy in 1981. Access inside the tower is through a narrow circular staircase with 379 steps to the top. This day there were 300-400 people, including children on a school excursion, in the tower when a power failure  occurred throwing the interior into total blackness. Panic and a stampede ensued resulting in the death of 45 people, including many children. Following this tragedy, the public no longer has access to the interior of the tower.

Entrance Qutub Minar,monuments,tombs,New Delhi

Entrance Qutub Minar

Apart from the Iron Pillar of Delhi, other historical monuments and tombs within the Qutub Minar complex are – Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Alai Darwaza, the Tomb of Iltutmish, the Alai Minar, Ala-ud-din’s Madrasa and Tomb, and the Tomb of Imam Zamin.

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque-tombs,monuments,New Delhi

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

cloister ceiling dome,tombs,monuments,New Delhi

Ceiling dome

 Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

In 1193 CE Sultan Qutb-ud-din-Aibak started construction of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque to mark his victory over Rajputs. Many of the remaining  pillared cloisters of the Mosque are decorated with distinct Hindu motifs such as bells and garlands. When the Sultans invaded the land they demolished twenty-seven Hindu and Jain Temples and the Mosque was built from materials plundered from these temples. Confirmation of this can be seen on a Persian inscription on the inner eastern gateway of the Mosque. Under a dome in one of the pillared cloisters is a beautifully crafted ceiling decoration, it is quite outstanding and probably came from a demolished  Hindu or Jain temple.

Qutub Minar complex,tombs,monuments,New Delhi,

Ruins Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque – Arched Screens

Tomb of Iltutmish 

Iltutmish, son in-law of Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak, and  the second Sultan of Delhi reigned from 1211 -1236 AD. The exterior walls of his tomb are fairly ordinary, and roof domes have collapsed, however the entrance door is decorated  in exquisite script. The interior walls of Iltutmis’ tomb are richly decorated with  intricate designs and calligraphy, quite beautiful in effect.

prayer-niche Qutub Minar,tombs,monuments,New Delhi,

Prayer Niche in white marble


The west wall of the tomb has three mihrab’s or prayer niche’s, the center prayer niche exquisitely decorated in white marble. The main cenotaph in white marble sits on  a raised platform in the center of  the chamber. The chamber is about  9 m.square.

Alai Minar Qutub complex,tombs,monuments,New Delhi

Incomplete Alai Minar (Tower)

Alai Minar

Ala-ud-Din Khalji was the Sultan of the Khilji dynasty and won many victories in battles. His ambition was to build a huge Tower or Minar twice as high as the Qutub to mark his victories. Although a long way from completion, one can see by the groundwork already there the beginning of a tower which would  probably have been similar in construction methods to the building of the Qutub Minar. It was completed up to the first storey, however construction ceased after the death of Sultan Ala-ud-din Khalji in 1316 AD. The Alai Minar  was never completed by his successors, the Delhi Sultanate defeated and  taken over by the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413).
Qutub Minar,tombs,monuments,New Delhi,

Tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji

A fascinating visit to the Qutub Minar Complex with so  much to learn about the culture and history of India; the tombs and monuments of famous Sultans who forged three hundred years of Indian history on this site in New Delhi. The Qutub Minar now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the surrounding buildings and monuments. Awesome!

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