Qutb Minar Complex (New Delhi)

The first time I went to New Delhi was almost a decade ago and it was almost a weeklong trip with my parents when we saw various Delhi museums, Gandhi Smriti etc on one day, monuments in Delhi on another day, did a day trip to Agra & Mathura and then did a day trip also to Surajkund, Badkal lake etc…. Ahhhh... Sweet memories!!!!
Very recently I realized, that was one heck of a trip where we saw not 1 or 2 but 6 UNESCO sites - Humayun’s Tomb, Qutb Minar & related monuments, Red Fort Complex, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and ofcourse Taj Mahal!!!! Very recently when Venkat got a chance to visit Delhi for Tata Tigor, he was so filled with nostalgia as someone who spent his childhood in New Delhi! He did manage to visit Qutb Complex and here’s more about it!

The Qutb Complex comprises of the most famous Qutb Minar, Alai Darwaza, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Iron Pillar, Tomb of Iltutmish & Allaudin Khilji and Alai Minar. Originally this place was called Lalkot. This was the first city among the 7 legendary cities of Delhi, developed by King Anangpal in 11th C CE and further expanded by King Prithviraj Chauhan III in 12th C, who built the Qila Rai Pithora. In 1192 CE, this was conquered by Muhammad Ghori who made Qutbu’d din Aibak as his viceroy here. Over time, he became a Sultan himself as the founder of Mamluk Dynasty (Slave Dynasty). Throughout the 664 years of Muslim rule in India, this region never lost its importance. Infact it was here that Razia Sultan, the first woman Muslim emperor also rose to power.
The Qutb Minar was begun by Qutbu’d din Aibak who constructed only 1 floor in 1199 CE with red & buff sandstone for the use of mu'azzin to call for prayer. His successor Iltutmish constructed the rest 3 floors in 1220 CE. However the top floor was damaged by lightning and Feroz Shah Tughlaq dismantled it and constructed 2 more out of white marble & sandstone, making it a 240ft tall, and dia of 47ft at base & 9ft at top, structure with a spiral staircase of 379 steps. Again in 1829, the top floor was damaged by lightning and Robert Smith (again when India was under British Raj) reconstructed it which did not look like the original structure! So Lord Harding removed it and placed it beside and it’s called Smith’s Folly today!

Another most important structure in the complex is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. This is the first ever mosque of India. However it wasn’t constructed with the principles of Islamic construction. It has a rectangular courtyard, 43.2m x 32.9m. The whole place has several pillars, which were dismantled from 27 Hindu & Jain temples. However there are 5 screens in front of the prayer hall with arches. This was further expanded by Iltutmish & Alauddin Khilji. These screens are extensively decorated with Islamic motifs!

Another very important feature in the complex is ofcourse the 7.21m tall, Iron Pillar! Decade ago, when I went, the iron pillar was open and my dad & I tried to hug it around. It was then a common practice to try hugging it and if you did, your wishes would come true! Lolz. But today there’s a fencing all around it to prevent people touching it or damaging it! It’s been a magic for ages! It has confused historians, archaeologists & scientists for ages. Reason - it’s an ‘iron’ pillar, but it doesn’t rust!!! The pillar doesn’t seem to have been made by the Islamic conquerors, but brought from elsewhere. There’s an inscription on it in Brahmi language that says that it is located on a hill called Vishnupada. It may have been a Dwajasthamba at a Vishnu temple.

Alai Darwaza is the main entrance of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and was constructed by Alauddin Khilji in 1311 CE. This was the first construction built following the Islamic principles. This has 4 gateways are arched and the whole thing is impeccably beautifully carved with several foliage and geometrical patterns following the Islamic principles. The whole thing holds a dome atop.
Don’t miss the lotus bud pattern in the underside of the arches. It’s a typical West-Asian tradition and a fine example of earliest Sultanate architecture in India. This too is red sandstone and marble like the 4th floor of the Minar! Just beside it is the Tomb of Imam Zamin. The Alai Minar was a zealous attempt by Alauddin Khilji to build a minar twice as wide as, and twice as tall as Qutb Minar to commemorate his win over Deccan. However it never got beyond 80ft high and a single storey!!!

To Get There:
From New Delhi Airport: 13km
From New Delhi Railway Station: 16km
Nearest metro station: Qutb Minar
Delhi Metro has 1-day, 3-days unlimited travel passes for tourists.

Entry Ticket: Rs.30 for Indians & SAARC nationals, Rs.500 for other foreigners.
Very close to this is the Hauz Khas Deer Park.

To Stay: Hotels, hostels & paying guest accommodations at all price points are available in New Delhi.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

20 comments:

  1. Wow, these places are incredible! All the design on the mosques and their history is so interesting, and reminds you how old the civilisation goes back to. Thank you for sharing this place in New Delhi.

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  2. I'd love to hear someone say the names of these mosques 3 times fast haha. Wow, such rich history and architecture in this city. I love the lotus shapes in the arches, a detail that really brings out the culture! I will definitely visit some day.

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  3. India has long been on my list of countries to visit. Thins location is just another reason for me to go soon as possible. The architecture is reflective of a beautiful culture and people.

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  4. India is such a nice city. Every bit of the city has a history it tell. Right from the waters to the buildings. There are sights to explore. The buildings at Qutb Minar Complex are just as amazing as the history of India. I'd love a visit some day.

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  5. I have seen Qutub Minar in my childhood and so could remember much. But your photos took me down to memory lanes of those great architecture in Delhi. You have taken stunning photos of intricate details on pillars. I would also love to visit Hauz Khas Deer Park as I am an ardent nature lover.

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  6. The work in the pillars are absolutely stunning. what an interesting complex and it has such a rich history to it too. it looks like an amazing place just to be surrounded in. it def looks like it has a unique vibe.

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  7. I visited Delhi in the early 90s. I fell in love in with Old Delhi. I haven't been there in years now. I think its high time for a revisit.

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  8. Wow an incredible place to explore, would love to visit the Qutb Minar! I really need to explore India more! It is on my bucketlist !

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  9. Since I've been to Angkor Wat, I've been chasing UNESCO sites! This is so interesting and a true architectural gem. I would love to add this to my list of UNESCO sites that I want to see. The structure is so impressive!

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  10. I grew up quite close to Qutub Minar and at one time could even see it from the roof of my house, so it has remained a special place. From picnics to taking visiting foreign friends, they really have made the surrounding area very pretty and clean as compared to before. Too bad one cannot go up any more, but I guess considering crowds in India, maybe that is for the better.

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  11. Wow wow wow to experience 6 UNESCO sites must have been such an incredible experience! And how incredible to be in the presence of such historical buildings, some being 11th century! The architecture and intricate design of the buildings looks like a piece of art and is so impressive.

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  12. I recently visited a UNESCO site in Toulouse and didn't realize it was one until I had left. I understand how you felt in Dehli when you visited 6 without knowing! The one you visited this time, the Qutb Minor complex is a rare UNESCO site to visit, I had no idea it existed and on my next visit to New Dehli will definitely visit. At 240 feet tall, it's huge, I'm not surprized the lightning strikes it.

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  13. Wow so lucky that you got to visit 6 UNESCO sites! We're heading to India next year and have now added Qutb Minar to our list - bet it looks so tall in real life! Loved your pictures too.

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  14. As always great post with lots of great facts and beautiful pictures, honestly must have been amazing to experience so much history and UNESCO sites.

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  15. I have been to Qutb minar complex couple of times with my tourist friends, But never even tried capturing it the way you did. I haven;t even tried hugging the iron pillar. This post definitely has reminded me that my visit to these places in Delhi is due from long time.

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  16. This is such a beautiful place to visit. I've been there last year and I really amaze in the sights, in the architecture and in the peaceful ambiance of this place.

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  17. Those are fascinating photos that you were able to take in New Delhi! The architecture and artistry are truly stunning. Each building comes with its own beauty and stories.

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  18. The architecture is superb.. I never been to new delhi but would like to see all these with my own eyes one day...

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  19. It would be great if you took photos at top of that tower. I'm curious of the amazing view we'll see at the top's terrace. Great post! Thanks!

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  20. I also enjoyed visiting this World Heritage site in India. In fact, it was one of my favorite destinations in Delhi! I really liked the architecture and the grounds. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

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