Imagine having walked around a beach and unexpectedly finding an antique bottle with a note in it. An odd kind of happiness is attached to things like this. This was the exact emotion I felt on having seen the Qutub Minar. With scriptures engraved on the Minaret that’s existed here for more than 800 years, it reminded me of the antique bottle with a personal note protected within it.
I wasn’t in Delhi for long and was supposed to make a few stops just for some shopping. On the way, I had tripped across the Qutub Minar..and to say that my mind was blown away would be an understatement.
Located in the Mehrauli district of South Delhi, is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Globally acclaimed for the rightful reasons, While walking here almost made me feel like I was walking around a castle made amidst the clouds. Beyond magical.
The Qutub Minar can be spotted at The Qutub complex easily. Being the World’s largest brick minaret, it effortlessly steals the limelight from the rest of the cultural artifacts in the complex.
How to get here?
Due to the cultural importance, it had blotted the map with, almost every other form of transportation services can be availed from here. Cabs, autos, metro, I could name it and I was provided with that. Since it is at a walkable distance from the metro station, I chose the Delhi metro experience for the go.
Interestingly enough the tokens provided for the trip have images of important icons or buildings and mine had Qutub Minar featured right on it. Can’t lie, this did make me feel a little too touristy.
The rich essence of history
Dating back to 1200 AD, the establishment of the seminar was started by the first Muslim Sultan of Delhi. Under Qutub-ud-din-Aibak’s reign, the basement was finished working upon and was left at that. Iltutmish, his successor continued the construction of three more storeies and the final touch to it was added on in the form of a fifth-storey by Firoz Shah Tughlak.
This makes the Minaret an interesting piece of architectural work as it was built up during three different reigns of Indian history. Looking at the intricately and carefully designed relief works and stone works, one can easily differentiate the eras as well.
Along with the Minaret, Aibak had also started the construction of the Quwwat Ul Islam mosque within the Qutab complex. The ruins of which lay in the complex today were attempted to build upon by Iltutmish and Alla-ud-din Khilji.
A Minaret out of ruins
Birds can be viewed flocking around, often in the form of spirals, around the 73 meters high Qutub Minar. This beautiful five-storied Indo-Islamic structure was named after the Delhi Sultan Qutab-ud-din Aibak. A thought that didn’t fail to escape my mind is that it is a structure filled with controversies and contradictions.
The minar is said to be built with the materials that were acquired after demolishing 27 Hindu Temples. Surely a provocative idea in modern times, but the building told a different story of legacies and pride in what the Sultan had achieved. There is unmissable sync I found with the Islamic architecture and that of Hindu ornamentation.
Another added fascinating concept was the Qur’an inscriptions on the minar. So very intricately carved that one could run their fingers across it and feel mesmerized by just how antique and treasured the religious scriptures were.
It is a pity that they don’t let the tourists to the topmost section of the minar. Which was earlier used as a watchtower. When I pried on about this, I was told that the view from the top is breathtaking. But just as equally dangerous. Especially after the number of times lightning had struck it and had to be reconstructed.
But till where I was permitted to wander, the view was definitely like a walk through those history books. Narratives beautifully carved through each nook and corner. Qutub Minar was built and restored by several others of different historical times as well. And I could point this out from just one glance at the interiors.
The first three stories were formed upon rich red sandstone. The remaining two were stacked using finely polished marble and sandstone. Don’t miss out on the magnificent ruins of the Quwwat-Ul Islam mosque in the complex. Dubbed as the Light of Islam, you could see the mosque living its part of history. Qutub Minar is the first-ever mosque to be built in India, through the ruins.
Around the complex itself, I could spot the Ashoka Pillar elevated in all its glory. The pillar at the least 1600 years old and is a constant study of interest to students. On reaching the pillar I could see several research scholars talking endlessly of the pillar’s metallurgical properties that prevented it from rusting all these years.
Surely a spectacle, my train of thoughts went on to think how in those ages they managed to uphold such a structure. Another idea I had come across was that this pillar acted the role of a lucky charm. Watching so many people come by and make wishes around the pillar. It made me realize just how close we attach ourselves to our long drawn history and culture.
Standing against the pillar and stretching my arms wide open, I also took my turn at making countless wishes. Now all I would possibly do while returning is crossing my fingers and hoping at least one among those wishes come true. And that’s exactly what I did. Few other places I made sure to visit around Qutub Minar are the Dilli Haat, Khan Market, Lodi Garden, and the Hauz Khas Village.