Among all the monuments in Delhi, perhaps this is the most famous. 15 kms south of Delhi, stands the soaring tower of victory, the Qutab Minar. The buildings in this complex, date from the onset of Muslim rule in India. The construction of the tower began in the year 1193, immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu Kingdom in Delhi. Qutb-ud-din may have started to build this just as aparticularly large minar associated with the mosque for calling people to prayer, or it may have been built as a victory tower.
It is nearly 73 meters high and tapers from a 15-meter-diameter base to just 2.5 meters at the top. The tower has five distinct storeys, and each storey is marked by a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are made or red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble of sandstone.
The construction began in the reign of Qutb-ud-din but during his lifetime only the first storey of the tower was constructed. His son-inlaw Iltutmish, the next ruler, added the next three storeys.In 1368, Feroz Shah Tughlaq quite a bit of the repair work and replaced the damaged fourth storey with two storeys. These were faced with marble and red sandstone. He also added a small cupola.
An earthquake brought the cupola down in 1803. A British engineer, Maj. Smith replaced it with another in 1829. However, that dome was removed some years later, by the then governor General, Lord Hardinge. The cupola can be found sitting in the garden near the entrance to the site.
The Qutab Minar used to be accessible to the top floor till the early 70's. Then people falling off, intentionally or otherwise, forced the government to restrict access to only the first storey. And finally, in the mid 80's, a stampede of school children closed access completely.
Although this ornate tower stands with a slight tilt today, yet it has undoubtedly survived through the centuries remarkably well. But, the archeogloical department has taken the initiative and redone the face of much of the first storey and the base with new sand stone pieces. In 1993, UNESCO included the Qutab Minar in its list of World Heritage monuments.
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