Nearest Metro – Qutub Minar
Time taken to cover the area – 1.5-2hrs
First things first, this is a great place for photoshoots. So if you own any sort of a camera, you must carry it along.
Another warning would be, you have to walk a lot here, hence all the people with knee pains can go directly to the main minar and walk back to the gate to avoid extra hassle and yet feast their eyes.
There are a lot of tombs to see, many pillars and their architectures to look at (fun fact – no two pillars have the same inscriptions) in this huge compound where you’ll want to click pictures of all what you see and marvel at how a place built almost 900 years ago will still awe you. The Khalji dynasty rulers had a lot of fascination for darwazas and minars, ruins of which and restored ones of the same which are abundantly present throughout the compound. The first stop on entering the complex is of the tomb of Imam Zamin as you take a left (we took a clockwise tour of the garden).
While walking towards it you will be able to see the Qutub Minar peeking, yet standing tall, from behind the trees on your right. If you wish to fit the whole of the Qutub Minar on the frame of your camera, the best place to do so would be from beside the Iron Pillar.
We next moved on to the Alai Darwaza ahead. The netted work on the windows and the red signature sandstone work prevalent in most monuments of Delhi (irrespective of which dynasty they date back to) made us slower our pace and appreciate our surroundings. One of the common poses I noticed most tourists to click pictures on was sitting in front of the huge windows, or even standing in front of them, with light peeping in and the commonly used hashtag ‘sunkissed’ to go along with their snaps.
Finally, we came to the Qutub Minar. Long back they’d let people climb to the top, alas they don’t now. I can only imagine what a lovely view there would have been from up there!
There is a screen opposite to the Qutub Minar built by Iltutmish which presently lies in ruins. This is the second out of three extensions made to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque built by Qutbuddin. The Iron Pillar lies in between the mosque and the screen.
What intrigues most is how after so many centuries the pillar has not rusted in spite of being in open air and subject to moisture. The answer to this lies in chemistry. The pillar is resistant to rust due to its passive protective film at the iron-rust interface owing to which it has remained exactly as it had been built, as proved by a report published by IIT Kanpur.
Alauddin Khalji’s tomb and madrasa are built side by side. The madrasa was Alauddin’s study. The concept of a tomb and a study together was probably a tradition of the Sultans, it made its first appearance in India here. It was at first said that the study was made by Iltutmish, however there is a notable change in architecture which resulted in proof of how it was Alauddin who built it – the domes and the treatment of the arrangement of bricks beneath them.
We further moved on to Iltutmish’s tomb, simple in structure and yet heavily ornamented. It must be noted that Hindu artisans constructed these structures. Since they were unfamiliar with building of domes the original structures did not survive and had been replaced by rulers of the following Tughlaq dynasty. The tomb chamber is now open to the sky. Elaborate Quranic inscriptions are banded on the interior surfaces of the walls and roofs.
The last of the stops was the Alai Minar. Alauddin Khalji had begun to construct this in hope to diminish his predecessors. It was double in diameter than that of the Qutab Minar. He built it till the first stage after which this scheme was abandoned owing to his death.
With this ended the walk in the garden. There is a museum on the left from the entrance containing different artifacts from that age. A book which you could read if you want to know more about the complex is a guide on Qutub Minar, sold in a shop to the right of the entrance. It is not one of those books which will loot you but it actually worth the read.
One of the most famous tourist attractions, reviving your school’s history lessons and a delight to your camera, this place is a must visit.