Places to visit in Delhi – Qutub Minar

by admin on April 3, 2012

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qutub minar

qutub minar with Iron Pillar

It was late in March 2012 that I thought I would visit the Qutub Minar. I caught the Metro rail from Noida and changed trains at Rajiv Chowk.The journey was largely uneventful, except for the glimpse of a lady whose sari got caught in the escalator. While trying to figure out whether it was unfortunate or my funny bone should be tickling, I alighted at Qutub Minar Station. Here, could see the tallest brick minaret in the world, standing at an impressive 72.5 metres.

The plaque put up by the Archeological Survey of India said that that the foundations of this world famous tower were laid by Qutbuddin Aibak of the Mamluk dynasty who completed the first storey by    1193 AD. His successor, Iltutmish managed build three more stories using the same materials in the year 1238 AD. The Minar was damaged in 1326 AD by lightning. Firuz Shah Tughlaq(1351-88 AD) managed to replace the top storey using marble. Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517) did some repair works before it was struck again by lightning. Sikander Lodi replaced the top storey with two more stories made of marble as it was damaged by an earthquake in 1505.  My helpful guide explained what the Persian inscriptions all around the tower revealed.  An earthquake struck the Minar once again in the year 1794 during the Band Major R. Smith, of the Royal Engineers, repaired the affected parts of the Minar by putting up his own pavilion at the top. This was replaced by Lord Hardinge in 1848. The Minar is slightly tilted due to ravages of time.

Inside the Qutub complex is a 7metre high Ashokan Iron pillar, built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375-415 CE) of the Gupta Empire. The Iron Pillar once stood in the center of a Jain temple compound housing the twenty-seven temples that were destroyed by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, in order to use their materials to build the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque nearby.

jahazmahal

A view of Jahaz Mahal, Delhi

After a quick bite and drink at the Olive Bar and Kitchen, my guide took me to the Ghyas ud din Balban’s(1266-1287)  tomb.  Built in 1287 also contains the tomb of his favourite son Khan Shaheed who died young, fighting the Mongol hordes.

Not far away and inside the Qutub complex, was the Metcalfe House, also known as ‘the retreat’ or ‘Dilkhusha’ (meaning “Delight of the Heart” in Urdu). Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe, 4thBaronet (1795-1853) and last agent of the British in Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar Court built this  country house by refurbishing the 16th century Mughal tomb of Quli Khan. Metcalf used it as a pleasure retreat by surrounding it with many rest houses, follies and gardens. He even removed Quila Khan’s sarcophagus and in its place put up a billiard’s table. He sometimes rented this place to honeymooners!

Next up in Mehrauli area and adjacent to Huaz-i Shamsi water tank, came the Jahaz Mahal( meaning Ship Palace in urdu). It was so named because the reflection of Jahaz Mahal could be seen in the water tank. Originally, the Mahal was used as a transit in for the large number of pilgrims from Arabia to Turkey who came to visit the important shrines and tombs in India. Today it hosts the annual Phool Wali Ki Sair (or procession of florists) in October. A bevy of flower bedecked florists take out a procession from the Hamsi tank outlet and offer them at the Yogmaya temple as a mark of reverence for Hindus! The procession ends at Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiars Kaka’s dargha.  The three day festival encompasses cultural programmes from many states of India, who perform dances in their colourful regional costumes and sing Qawwalis. My next sojourn would be the Kalka Mandir and the Lotus temple I decided.

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