History of Qutub Minar

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History of Qutub Minar

 The Qutub Minar (also Qutb, Qutab) is an outstanding monument of the Muslim rule in India. Ibn Battuta, a famous Moorish travelerand commentator of the Middle Ages, spoke of the Minar as ‘one of the wonders of the world – which has no parallel in the lands of Islam”.

The only Muslim building known to be taller than the Minar is the Minaret of the mosque of Hassan at Cairo. The Qutub Minar, however, has a far nobler appearance and is distinctly superior to its Egyptian rival in design and finished.

The Qutub Minar, which stands a little outside the south-east corner of the original mosque – Quwwat-ul-Islam – served a double purpose, namely, as a tower of victory and as a minaret of the mosque.

The history of the Qutub Minar is writ on its Amir Khusrau’s profile. One of the Arabesques on the basement storey contains the name of Qutb-ud-din Aibak who laid the foundation of the Muslim power in India. Two other bands refer to his master, Muhammad-bin-Sam of Ghur. The inscription on the second, third and fourth stories bear the name of Iltutmish, the successor of Qutb-ud-din Aibak. On the fifth storey, a rubric indicates the restoration of the tower by Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq. The inlet of the tower, which is more recent, refers to its renovation by Sikandar Shah Lodi in 1503. Thus it is clear that the Minar is the work of Qutb-ud-din Aibak who is said to have commenced it in about 1200 A.D. and probably finished the basement storey.

As the Qutub Minar was damaged by lightening in 1368 A.D., Firuz Shah Tughluq rebuilt the fourth storey, added the fifth and surmounted it with a harp-shaped cupola. The cupola has since disappeared (having collapsed in an earthquake in 1803 A.D.); but the fourth and fifth stores still survive. They are essentially different, both architecturally and in medium of their construction, from the work of Aibak and Iltutmish. The fluted storeys are replaced by cylindrical shafts, and the bulk of the work is in white marble in lace of red stone. During the waning glow of the Mughal power in India, the Minar was again damaged by an earthquake. In 1828 A.D., Major Robert Smith of the Bengal Engineers carried out its repairs with skill but his innovations – the balustrades, built in ‘true Gothic style’, and the entrance gateway – are open to serious objection. Smith also added to the Minar a kiosk which appeared so incongruous that Lord Hardinge ordered its removal in 1848 A.D.

The Qutub Minar is 72.56 meters in height with a base diameter of 14.4 meters, and an upper diameter of nearly 2.7 meters. The shaft is divided into five stories of which the lover storey is 7.72 meters and that of the fifth storey are 6.8 meters. The shaft is thus 71.33 meters high, excluding Firuz Shah’s cupola, of which now only the stump,. 0.6 meters high, may be seen on the top of it. The plinth on which the shafts stand is 0.6 meters high. Thus the total height of Qutub Minar is 72.55 meters. An attractive feature of the Qutub Minar is that the lowest storey has twenty-four flutings, alternately angular and circular; the second storey had circular flutings, and the third only angular. Each fluting is carried right up to the end of the storey, and this undoubtedly adds to the beauty and effect of the tower. These three storeys are of red sandstone. Above this, however, the Qutub Minar is plain and made principally of marble with belts of red sandstone. Another remarkable feature of the Minar is that it is ornamented by four boldly-projecting balconies. A doorway in each storey opens on to its own special balcony.

Another notable feature of the Minar is that unlike the Qutb Mosque its decoration is ‘consistently saracenic in character from base to top”.

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