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India: Qutab Minar

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Qutab Minar | India | Asia

[Visited: June 2003]

One of the major sights of Delhi is the Qutab Minar. This tower points up to heaven on the southern side of the city. It was built in the 12th century, and it still towers high above its surroundings. When the cab driver drops you off at the gate, you are directly approached by several persons trying to sell you anything from postcards to a nice embrace with an enormous snake. As you escape them, and after paying the entrance fee, you enter the area that houses the Qutab Minar.

Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Qutab Minar: calligraphy - New Delhi

Not only that, it is also to several buildings, although most of them are in ruins now. You can see the first mosque of India, right at the feet of the Qutab Minar. It was built using building material from Hindu temples. Although many parts of the mosque are missing or in bad shape, you can still see marvellously sculpted ceilings, columns, and capitals. In the central square, there is an iron pillar, unfortunately closed by a low fence. Unfortunately because, as was the tradition, anyone who could encircle the iron pillar with his arms, while standing with his back to it, would have his wishes fulfilled.

Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Qutab minar soaring into the sky

Here, you are already at the feet of the majestic tower that you saw already from the beginning. The tower is not straight, its diameter is 15 meter at the base but only 2.5 at the top. It is divided into five storeys, which are all separated by a balcony. The lower storeys are made of red sandstone, the highest two of marble and sandstone. Furthermore, at several heights there is intricate Arabic calligraphy sculpted into the tower, delicately decorated. I felt a strong urge to climb the tower, but unfortunately it has been closed to the public ever since several people died when chaos struck in 1979.

Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Detail of mosque at Qutab Minar, New Delho
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Decorated door inside ruins of Qutab Minar
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Arabic calligraphy in doorway, Qutab Minar
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Alauddin Khaldi failed tower, Qutab Minar
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Feet of Qutab Minar, New Delhi
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Capital of column in ruins of mosque, Qutab Minar
Picture of Qutab Minar (India): Iron pillar, Qutab Minar, New Delhi

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