Qutub Minar: Delhi's Iconic Tower

The Qutub Minar is the world's tallest brick minaret and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower was a fixture throughout my years growing up in New Delhi. The image is etched into my memory since it is located just a few miles south of the Indian Institute of Technology's Delhi campus, where I lived. Somehow, as we moved from one campus residence to another over the years, we always ended up with a south-facing balcony and a clear view of Delhi's iconic tower. However, despite having lived next door to the famous Qutub for most of my childhood, there was much that I didn't know about it until last year when I set out to help my daughter, Ria, with a school project.
  • The tower is 72.5 meters high, consists of 5 storeys, and is made of fluted red sandstone and white marble (the first three storeys are pure sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are sandstone and marble)

  • The minar was built over a period of almost 200 years (1199-1369) by a succession of Mughal (Mongol) rulers including Qutb-ud-din Aibak (Delhi's first Muslim ruler, who only managed the first storey), Aibak's son-in-law and successor Iltutmish (who completed the next three storeys), and Feroz Shah Tughlak (who rebuilt the fallen fourth storey and added the fifth storey)

  • The exterior is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Quran

  • A second tower was planned to be taller than the Qutub Minar but was abandoned mid-construction at 12 meters

  • According to some, the place where Qutub Minar stands today was once occupied by about 20 Jain temples, which were demolished and the stones reused to build the Qutub Minar

  • According to others, the Qutub Minar was built on the ruins of Lal Kot (Red Citadel) in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi

  • The staircase inside the tower has been closed since the 1980s when a stampede caused a number of deaths


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