Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Qutab Minar

I was going through my old post when I realized that I missed out some of the wonderful sights we had seen in Delhi during our India trip.

After our conference, we had 2 extra days and decided to do some sight seeing and shopping of course.

It would have been very difficult had it not for our friend, En. Sani. We met him by chance in Mumbai airport as we were waiting for our plane. He works in Delhi and stays in a flat alone. He invited us to stay over in his place and arranged for us to do the shopping and sightseeing. He picked us up from our hotel and we moved into his apartment just at the outskirts of New Delhi.

So we hired a taxi to take us around for the whole day. Our first stop was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Qutab Minar. This ancient architectural wonder is the tallest stone tower in India (height of 72.5m = 239ft). It has 5 distinct storeys, each marked by a balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, while the top 4th and 5th of marble and sandstone.

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Qutb-u’d-Din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, laid the foundation of the Qutab Minar in AD 1199 to celebrate the defeat of the Rajput kings. It was later completed by his successors.

We learnt that until a few years ago, visitors were allowed to go up and a lot of people committed suicide by jumping for the upper floors. When we were there, some repairs were going on.

To the northeast of the Minar, is the Quwwat-ul-Islam (Might of Islam) Masjid (Mosque). It was built by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak in AD 1198 and is the oldest Mosque in India. Only the ruins and the façade and some old tombs remain now.

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An interesting observation is that none of the columns were the same. I found out later that this is because they used materials from the ruins of Hindu and Jain temples and is evident by the use of stone blocks intricately carved with Hindu motifs including that of horses, cows and human figures, placed on top of one another to make columns. The use of animal and human images is not something you would expect in any mosque. They say that it was once covered with plaster, but the plaster was eroded with the years exposing the original carvings.

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Another amazing sight was the black iron pillar in the center of the complex. This pillar is 7.2 meters tall and is called the “pillar of law”. It bears a Sanskrit inscription in the Brahmi script of 4th century AD and mentions that it was in honour to the Hindu god Vishnu and to commemorate the King Chandragupta Vikramaditya II, who ruled from 375 to 413 AD. Another king brought it here later somewhere in the 11th century. The Muslim rulers left it untouched.

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What is so amazing about this iron pillar is that it has not at all rusted even after nearly 2000 years and modern day scientists still don’t know why. Have to talk to Fred, my sister’s fiancé who is specialized in corrosion engineering.

While walking out we noticed another incomplete tower called Ala'i Minar, which stands to the north of the Kutub-Minar.

We were silent as we left the complex. It was an amazing experience.

P.S. Just by coincidence, Y.B. Datuk Mustapa bin Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister Department was there too. We were introduced to him by one guy in his group who heard us speaking in Malay. It's a small World.

11 comments:

BabyPink said...

WOW!!!:) thanks for writing about this. it's always great to read about great historical places.

and, you were verylucky to have found a friend who was nice enough to have you in his place.:)

salaam!:)

shsuya said...

Adam... I have finally amended my font size ... now u can view it without a magnifying glass hehehe
And thanks for notifying me....

shsuya said...

hey dun u think its weird why they would use pillars with depictions of animals in a mosque.... and no objection from any party?? imagine if that happened in Malaysia... !!!! Ppl would go LIVID!!!!! hehehe

AlanK said...

nice pictures

also did you get the chance to see the taj mahal or any cobras

Yuen Li said...

Hi, not really the right place, but you don't have a tagboard: just wanted to say "Hi!" and "Thanks for visiting and commenting at my blog". :)

Anonymous said...

A pillar in honour of a hindu god!! I don't believe it. Are you sure it is not a hindu conspiracy??

Adam said...

Alan: Yes I did. You can check out my older post on the Agra trip.
Yuen Li: Hi! Welcome to my blog.
Shsuya: Yes it is. Come to think of it. That mosque is the only I know that has animal images.
Anon: I don't think so.

laydiefa said...

thank you for visiting my blog.
you just got back from India?

sweetspirit said...

Hi Adam
Kewl shots ,i luv reading about other countries ect.tcz

Adam said...

Hi laydiefa, No, my trip was in January. But I missed out this part.

Ferdinand said...

Hi,
Nice blog about the Qutab Minar. I used it for http://www.writingtravellers.com/tikiwiki/tiki-index.php?page=The+Qutab+Minar+complex
Feel free to correct it if you think I changed it in the wrong way.

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