Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret (or tower) in the world. Located in Mehrauli, in India’s capital city of New Delhi. The work on the Qutub Minar was started by Qutb-ud-din Aibak and hence the name of the minar. The construction of the current Minar was completed by his son-in-law Illutmish. This tower was built as a tower of victory to recognize the defeat of Hindu kings at the hands of Mughals. Due to its historical and architectural importance, the Qutub Minar rightly recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Read about other Delhi Heritage Walks
I lived in Delhi for 3 years and this post is a part of Delhi Heritage Walk series. Living and studying about history, encouraged me to travel more. Read other posts on the series
Qutub Minar Facts & Tour in Heritage Delhi Walks
For me as a student of Indian history, the Qutub Complex is a beautiful chaos – it has stories of beauty, survival, learning, endurance, victory and mortality.
The complex hosts the incredible tallest minar,
along with the first mosque in India on the ruins of a Hindu temple
it also depicts the endurance and perfection of the Iron Pillar
it showcases a failed project in Alai Minar and a story of a ruler buried in a dipalated tomb, in unsung glory
Qutub Minar Architecture & History
The Qutub Minar is situated in Delhi in Mehrauli area. A minar is a tower or turret.
The construction of the Qutub Minar was started in 1193 by the founder of Delhi Sultanate – Qutub-ud-din-Aibak. The tower was built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu ruler.The minar went through further additions by his son-in-law and successor Iltutmish.
The Qutub Minar architecture is Islamic but it is also influenced by Iranian style. The Qutub Minar is 72.5 meters high and its base diameter is 14.3 meters.
The Qutub Minar is made up of red sand-stone and marble. It has five distinct storeys- the first three storeys are made of red sandstone, the 4th and 5th storeys are of marble and sandstone. All the five storeys have projecting balconies.
The minar has verses from the Quran, inscribed in beautiful calligraphy all across the tower.
Qutub Minar Facts
Here are some quick interesting facts about the Qutub Minar
- The Qutub Minar is the tallest minaret in the world.
- Its a UNESCO heritage site (1993)
- The Qutub Minar is also surrounded by many other historical monuments, all of which form the Qutub Complex.
- The Qutub Minar was built as a mighty tower of victory after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi (Founder of Delhi Sultanate). Some sources say it was built to honor the Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
- The top floor of the minar was destructed by lightning in 1369, and rebuilt by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (of Tughlaq Dynasty). These floors are quite distinguishable from the rest of the minar as they are made up of white marble.
- Closing of the top balcony of the minar – Until 1974, general public was allowed to access the top of the minar. On December 4 1981, 45 people were killed in a stampede that followed an electricity failure that plunged the tower’s staircase into darkness. Currently, public access to the inside of the tower is banned.
Places to visit near Qutub Minar
With this walking tour, allow yourself 2-4 hours of time to visit the entire complex including the Qutub Minar. If you are looking to book tours, I have added a few options at the end of the post.
The Qutub Minar tour and its exploration is not complete without the architectural structures nearby. These structures were built by succeeding Mughal emperors and many had to be restored and repaired over the years. Some of the important structures include –
- Alai Darwaza
- Alai Minar
- Iron Pillar
- Tombs of Illutmish and Ala-ud-din khalji
The Ala’i Darwaza is the exquisite gateway to the whole Qutub complex.The gate was built in 1311 by Allaudin Khilji and was made of red sandstone.It is also one of the earliest buildings in India to employ the Islamic principles of arched construction.
Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (The Might of Islam Mosque) is considered to be the first mosque to be built in India. It was constructed in 1193, with various additions over the centuries, and completed in 1198. The mosque stands at the foot of the Qutub Minar.
The original mosque was built on the foundations of a Hindu temple, and an inscription over the east gate states that it was built with materials obtained from demolishing ‘27 idolatrous temples’. This building symbolizes in stone the ascendance of one religious power over another.
Allaudin Khilji started the ambitious project of construction of the Alai Minar, after his victory over the Deccan Kingdom. This minar was supposed to be twice the size of the Qutub Minar. However the consrtuction of the tower was abandoned after the death of Allaudin Khilji. The 24.5 metre high -first storey of the incomplete Alai Minar, still stands today.
Mehrauli Iron Pillar
The Qutub complex is also home to a 4th-century pillar, originally made as a flagstaff in Vishnu’s honour. This 7m-high pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque and it was here a long time prior to the mosque’s construction. A six-line Sanskrit inscription indicates that it was initially erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar, and was raised in memory of Chandragupta II, who ruled from AD 375 to 413.
This iron pillar is a tribute to ancient Indian metallurgy- the iron in the pillar is of exceptional purity. In the last 2000 years or so, it has stood the test of time and has never rusted.
Tombs of Illutmish and Ala-ud-din khalji
Tomb of Illutmish (Shams-ud-din-Illutmish) was built in 1235 AD and its situated outside the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. The exterior of the tomb is very plain, but the interior is richly decorated.
Ala-ud-din’s madrasa and tomb is located to the south-west of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque.The tomb is a simple brick structure with no decorative marble or intricate carvings. There were two small chambers connected to the tomb by passages on either side. The tomb is in a very dilapidated condition. Ala-ud-din Khilji was a mighty ruler, belonging to the Khilji dynasty – he triumphed over the Deccan kingdoms. Alai Darwaza (in the same complex) was built by him. He undertook the construction of the Alai Minar as well.
The tomb of Ala-ud-din doesnt justify his reign or his royal power in bygone days.
Alauddin Khilji was the second Sultan of Delhi from Khilji dynasty, who ruled from 1296 to 1316 AD. It is believed that Ala-ud-din’s body was brought to the complex from Siri and buried in front of the mosque, which formed part of the madrasa adjoining the tomb.
Ala-ud-din also established a madrasa for education on Islamic scriptures and theology. It has rooms and halls built around a quadrangular court. Screened walls were originally present on the eastern and western sides of the quadrangular court. On the western side, a group of seven small, cell-like structures are present, which are believed to have served as residents of the teachers and staff. The entry on the north side consists of an elaborately carved doorway. The central room of the Madrasa, which has Aladdin tomb, has now lost its dome, though many rooms of the structure are intact.
Qutub Minar Visiting Hours & Other Information
- The Qutub Complex is open everyday from 07:00 am to 5:00 pm IST
- Entrance fee for SAARC Nation citizens is Rs.30, Rs.500 (foreigners)
- Additional charges apply for non-commercial photography and video
- Great place for picnics, photo-shoots
- Visitors usually spend a few hours to half a day at this heritage site
- I do recommend a visit to this heritage site. It wont disappoint you!
How to reach Qutub Minar Information
Qutub Minar is located in Mehrauli. And Mehrauli is situated in the southern part of Delhi, which makes it a convenient tourist spot to explore. Indira Gandhi International (Delhi) Airport is not too far away from Mehrauli. There are many ways to reach Qutub Minar from any part of Delhi city.
Cabs (Uber, Ola or private taxis) are common in Delhi and they will take you to Qutub Minar. Keep in mind that cabs are an expensive option if you stay away from South Delhi. Also traffic in Delhi is insane, so allot enough time if traveling during peak hours.
Local buses (DTC) and Delhi Tourism operated buses can also take you to Qutub Minar at a decent price. All buses going towards Mehrauli stop at the Mehrauli Bus Terminal, located very close to the Qutub Minar.
With the introduction of metro lines in the recent years, traveling to Mehrauli or Qutub Minar have been made easy and very convenient. Qutub Minar metro station is the yellow line – connecting Samayapur Badli in Delhi to Huda City Centre in Gurgaon. Upon exiting the metro station, a quick bus ride or rickshaw will take you to Qutub Minar. Distance from the metro station to the Qutub Minar is 3 kilometers.
Qutub Minar Tours
If you would like to book a private guided tour to the Qutub Minar or a Delhi Heritage Walk, we have some recommendations for you. You can also book tours as part of a full day Delhi exploration. Tours start at $10USD+
- Qutub Minar & Other Private Tour
- Full Day Tour of Sightseeing Tour of Delhi
- Full Day UNESCO Heritage Sites of Delhi Tour
- Read what bloggers across the world, have to stay about traveling to India
- Visiting Hyderabad? Read this itinerary
Last Updated: December 07 2018
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