Kutub Minar in Delhi

The sand minaret Qutb-un-din-Minar with a height of 72 m was built around 1200 south of Delhi, probably after the victory of the Muslims over the Hindus. In its vicinity are the Qutb or Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque with the 7.2 m high iron column in honor of King Candragupta Vikramaditya and the Alai Darwaza gate.

Kutub Minar in Delhi: facts

Official title: Kutub Minar with its mosques and tombs in Delhi
Cultural monument: 72.5 m high »victory tower« made of red sandstone and marble, which tapers from 14.32 m to 2.75 m in diameter; Kuwwat-ul-Islam Mosque (Power of Islam) built using building materials from 27 Hindu and Jain shrines; 7.2 m high, rustproof iron column in honor of King Chandragupta Vikramanditya, who ruled from 375 to 413; Alai Minar, a second, 27 m high, unfinished »victory tower«
Continent: Asia
Country: India
Location: Lalkot, on the southern edge of Delhi
Appointment: 1993
Meaning: Example of Indo-Muslim architecture from the 12th to 14th centuries

Kutub Minar in Delhi: History

1050 Creation of Lalkot
1193 Conquest by Muslim invaders under the military leader Qutb-ud-din Aybak
1193-97 Construction of the mosque “Power of Islam”
1199 Construction of the Qutub Minar begins
1210-20 Construction of a courtyard around the mosque
1211-36 Reign of Iltutmisch
1236 Grave construction of the Iltutmisch near the Qutub Minar
1310 Construction of the Alai Darwaza, the entrance gate to the Qutub Minar ensemble
1368 Redesign of the upper floor, increase to five floors and erection of a dome on the Qutub Minar
1803 Collapse of the dome due to an earthquake
1829 Construction of a new dome
1981 Closure of the tower to visitors after a mass panic that left 45 dead

Islamic Empire State Building

According to internetsailors, the strife between Hindus and Muslims on the Indian subcontinent is the order of the day. It culminated in May 1998 with nuclear tests that India and Pakistan undertook to deter each other in their deserts. Six years earlier, fanatical Hindus had destroyed the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, northern India, in order to build a temple for the Hindu god Rama in its place. The storming of the mosque was a late revenge for the destruction wrought by Muslim warlords from what is now Afghanistan centuries ago in northern India. In particular, the Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, who had thousands of Hindu temples razed and numerous cities plundered, is still regarded by the Hindus as the symbol of the threat posed by Islam.

With the establishment of the Sultanate of Delhi in 1206, the raids turned into Muslim rule. Under the first Sultan of Delhi, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first mosque was built on Indian soil, the Kuwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, the Power of Islam Mosque. To do this, the new ruler had the central shrine of an old Hindu temple removed and converted into a mosque with prayer niches. Other parts of the mosque complex, which today only survives as ruins, including a courtyard with monastery cells, came from columns and entablature pieces from worn-out Hindu and Jain temples.

In contrast, the minaret towers high into the sky in full beauty. The Qutub Minar made of red and yellow sandstone is considered to be the tallest stone tower in India. All the world should hear the call to prayer from here. “The verses of the Koran increase in calligraphy size with the height, so that the last supreme sura can still be deciphered effortlessly from the ground,” noted travel book author Robert Haidinger, who classified the Victory Tower as an “Empire State Building of Indian Islam”.

Qutb-ud-din Aybak himself only saw the completion of the first floor, because he died in 1210 as a result of a polo game. His son-in-law and successor Iltutmisch took care of the further completion up to the fourth floor, before two new floors were added in the second half of the 14th century.

Almost a century after the reign of Qutb-ud-din Aybak, Ala-ud-din Khalji wanted to build a counterpart to the victory tower, the Alai Minar, which was to be twice as high at 150 meters. However, he had to abandon his ambitious project when Tughluk rulers seized power.

The greatest attraction on the site of the mosque is without a doubt a rustproof iron column that dates back to the fourth century and was probably dragged here from another location. Anyone who can hug the marvel of Indian metallurgy with their backs to the pillar will have a wish fulfilled.

One more question remains: where did the Qutub Minar get its name from? Many historians believe that it was named not after the first sultan of Delhi of Turkic origin, but after a saint from Baghdad, Kwaja Kutab-ud-din. This pious man from Iraq had come to India and was highly venerated by Iltutmisch.

Turkic conquerors from Afghanistan and the Mughals from Central Asia brought the tradition of Arabic and Persian architecture with them to northern India. The construction of the Kuwwat-ul-Islam mosque with the Qutb minaret was the fruitful beginning of the cultural Indo-Islamic fusion. The fact that many hearts in India remained foreign to each other became clear when it gained independence in 1947 at the latest: Pakistan split off as a new Islamic state and went its own way.

Kutub Minar in Delhi