Travel Guide: Qutub Minar, India : Most Visited Site
ost visited site by non Indian travellers and tourists.It is also word’s tallest tower or minaret made of brick and sandstone. Starting from a base diameter of 14.2 meters, it tapers to 2.75 meters at 72.5 meters (238 feet) which is its present height. There are 379 steps, but these days visitors are not allowed to the top for safety and security reasons. Between 2 to 3 million people visit it in any given year, the highest for any monument in India. This is partly because of its attraction and partly because of easy accessibility as it is situated in Delhi, a city which almost every tourist visits.
History: Qutub Minar was constructed across the reign of several rulers. The building was ordered in AD 1193 by Qutbuddin Aibak who the first Muslim ruler of Delhi. He was inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, but wanted to build something that would surpass it in every way. He could complete only its base during his reign, as laying the foundation and building the base of such a tall tower was as ambitious a work as building the tower itself was. The next three floors were added during the reign of Iltumish, his successor.
Firuz Shah Tughluq oversaw the construction of the topmost portion (the fifth story). Thus what started in AD 1193 was completed only in AD 1386, a two-century long construction.
Details: Qutub Minar is made up of baked red bricks and sandstone. The sandstone is covered with intricate designs and verses from Quran. There are balconies at the summit of each story, and even 600+ years after the initial construction they are able to bear the shifting weight and vibration created by the millions that visit it every year.
The tower was built in a compound known for Hindu holy places, and a good amount of building material came from preexisting Hindu fortresses and temples. One of them is Lal Kot, the demolished fortress of Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi. Around 27 Hindu and Jain temples that stood in that compound were also demolished to obtain more material for building this tower. A large number of enslaved Hindu masons and engravers were used for the building of the structure, and many of them have left their imprint and inscriptions on various stones.
The Iron Pillar that stands in the same compound and that has resisted the formation of rust for hundreds of years in open sun and rain. It continues to baffle metallurgists, and is amazing demonstration of the heights to which ancient Indian technology had risen, a know-how that was completely lost during the several centuries of foreign dominion of India.
Qutub minar was damaged several times by earth-quake, but successive rulers saw that it repaired. It is a marvel that has now stood more than 800 years from its inception and 600 years from its construction.