Qutb Complex is the best monument to understand few first muslim rulers and involution of architecture and art from stone to brick work, usage of Hindu art to splendid arabic and persian art of inscriptions from late 12th century to mid 14th century. This is unique architectural heritage conglomeration of contribution by Pritvi Raj Chauhan, Tomar Anangpal, Qutb-ud-din Aibek, Iltutmish,Allauddin Khilji and Feruz Tuglaq.
3 Day Itinerary
|Day 1||Took a comfortable and very neat hotel “Athiti Palace” in Daryaganj. Red Fort (3 hrs) with guide, India gate (1 hr).|
|Day 2||Qutub Minar (3 hours), Humayun Tomb (1.5 hrs). Guides are available.|
|Day 3||Purana Quila (3 hrs), Kotla Feroz Shah adjacent to Delhi Zoo, Khooni darwaza, Shershah gate (4 hrs), Jantar Mantar(2.5 hrs).|
|Still I have to visit Seventh City, third and fourth cities, Lal Kot, Tomb of Ghari, Lodi Garden, Khushk Mahal, Suraj Kund, Anangpur dam, Ugrasen Baoli , complete Nizzamuddin, Lodi garden some other next time.|
|1. Guides were not available at Purana Quila but all ASI boards are very informative, ASI guards were available as very good guides at Kotla Feroz Shah, Jantar Mantar.
2. If you are short of time you can keep your luggage in cloak room in Airport Terminal-3 metro station. It is costly but still convenient. I paid Rs.400 for 1 luggage for 24 hrs.
3. You can catch metro for Shivaji Stadium from Airport and catch auto to go to any places. Surprisingly Autos are friendly and very reasonable.
4. Better to start journey from Red Fort as there is ASI book stall inside fort which contains cheap and great books about monuments. ASI books are always authentic and informative.
History of Delhi
There are 1300 listed monuments in Delhi and I think it is not possible to undestand them until we know a bit of history of Delhi.
In my understanding let us divide Delhi history as before attack of Muslim rulers in closing 12 century and period after that.
Before 1191 AD
It seems the pages of ancient history of Delhi opened in recent excavations in 1955 when painted glossy grey earthwares were found which resembled with Ashoka and Maurya Dynasty time of third century BC and also since same type of earthwares were also found in sites associated with Mahabharata, historians confirm that probably the site below current Purana Quila was actually ancient Indraprasth.
The excavations were again started in 1969 around purana quila and found several stratum of artifacts like pottery, coins and stamped pottery were found in different layers of earth. Black polished hard earth ware were used from 1000 BC till Shunga time (100 BC) while red earthwares were used till 300 AD till saka-Kushan time.
Similarly gold plated coin with figure of archer on one side and legend Sri-Vikrama on other side of coin confirms Gupta period.
When I visited Purana quila I saw these polished black polished wares in Purana Quila Museum. Photography is strictly prohibited so I could not take the fotos of these ancient artifacts. Later in late 9th century Pratihars were ruling in North west region and it is believed that probably Tomars were feudatories of Pratihars from end of 10th century and they settled themselves in Aravali region. There were also Tomars in Chand dynasty but there is no evidence that they were related.
In the region close to Delhi and border of current Haryana there are some ancient structures which show that Tomars may be founders of Delhi. As an example as mentioned in “Prithvi Raj Raso” that Suraj Kund was established by Tomar ruler Suraj Pal. Also close to village Anangpur a dam and remanants of fortificqation ( Lal-kot) exists which is believed to be constructed by Anangpal. Both these structures the Suraj-Kund (11 KM from Qutab Minar) and Anangpal dam (19 KM from Delhi on Mathura Road) and fortification called Lal-kot was made for the defence of Delhi and therefore Epic Prithviraj Raso mentions Anangpal as founder of Delhi. Later in 1153 Vigraharaj IV captured from Tomars and handed over Delhi to his grandson Prithviraj Chauhan III (Rai Pithora) for few days in his absence. Later Prithviraj Chauhan refused to relinquish kingdom to his grand father. Pritviraj ruled Delhi region from from 1163 -1192 AD.
After 1191 AD
This starts virtually from 1191 since attacks before that from 7th century to late 12 century were thwarted by Hindu kingdoms and even there was no influence of Islamic culture on India in these 500 years. I will stop this history in this article till Allauddin Khilji the last involvement in Qutb Minar.
Muhammad of Ghur attacked in 1191 which was repulsed by Prithviraj Chauhan. These Ghurs were actually converted Hindus from Afghan area. But next year Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj and installed his slave Qutbuddin Aibak. After death of Ghori in 1210 Aibak declared himself as first Sultan Of Delhi. Later his son-in-law Iltutmish occupied in 1211. Then his daughter Razia Sultal for about 2-3 years when she was killed. After this Nasiruddin was last in slave dynasty but he was a weak ruler and kingdom came in hands of Balban who was his son-in-law. Balban was killed and throne was taken by Firuz Shah, an Afghan Turk of Khilji tribe and he called himself as Jallalludin Khilji. He ruled till 1296. Then throne came to Allauddin Khilji his elder brother who ruled from 1296 to 1316. Allauddin Khilji had married Jalluddin’s daughter.
I will just share my experience and feelings when I visited Qutb Minar Complex. It was my second day of visit when I stayed at Delhi for 2 days on way to Uttarakhand. I started in morning at 8 AM by auto from Daryaganj. As per driver Qutb complex
was about 15 KM from Daryaganj. He charged just Rs.120. I took the entry ticket, kept my small luggage in cloak room near the entry ticket counter and enquired about Guide.
It was early so guides were not available but a sweeper there assured me and called one guide on phone. He came in 30 minutes and luckily he had a good knowledge about this complex.
He started his explaination from Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque. Guide told that the mosque was started by Qutnuddin Aibak in 1193 as first monument here and was to mark Aibak’s victory. Guide also told that surprisingly In qutb minar it is mentioned as mark of Allauddin Khilji victory.
The mosque is really big and carries the imprints of foundation on 27 Hindu temples , pillars, statues, carvings carved by Hindu artists or used as it from uprooted pillars from temple.I think this was the base of Islamic philosophy which was comparatively very young and immature compared to old and mature Hindu philosophy. All Islamic rules whether in Europe or India started only with ruhless destruction and blindly following the religion of “One Allah”. After seeing this mosue I remembered ISIS fundamentals the same and even worse by including even division among muslims as well.
This mosque is indeed one of the best saved ancient mosques and its history tells the complete Islamic mentality from 1191 AD till 1316 AD. The basic about this is that it was founded on aconic blind faithm disrespect for other religion and devastation which holy Quran does not approve. I could understand one thing about the reasons why Hindu temples pillars, designs
And statues were used in this construction and also as the guide and archaeology books confirm that since it was first Islamic foundation the artisans , knowledge of Arabic structures was not there so they directly depended on demolished temples.
A few rulers contributed to Qutb complex with full enthusiasm on same fundamentals of aconic and destruction. They ware Iltumish, Allauddin Khilji and Firuzq Tuglaq (1351-88 while Muhammad Tuglaq (1325-51) and Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517) renovated it.
The next construction in 1198 comes as Qutb Minar. It is a known tradition that Qutb Minar first story was constructed by Prithviraj Chauhan to enable his daughter to see Yamuna river as part of her daily worship. The Guide showed me some devnagri scripts on its surface and also some temple artifacts are used.
Must congratulate the ASI department for keeping this marvel in neat and in shape. It seems first and second floor are painted to keep it safe from dust and ground environment.
This minar was used to call public for prayer in Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque.
Qutnuddin Aibak raised only first story and remaining stories were completed by his successor Iltutmish. Later Muhammad Tuglaq repaired it after lightning strike damage. Further in 1368 Firuz Tuglaq repaired the fourth story keeping its originality intact by using sand stones while erecting one more story on top by using marble.
If you see closely you can find the difference in designes of each of the story surface. It is the highest stone tower in India today.
This pillar stands in middle of the mosque. From where this pillar came here. No one knws.
But as per devnagri script used is of Gupta period so it can be assigned to 4th century AD. It seems it was used to hoist flag of Lord Vishnu in those days. Also the design used in top of this pillar matches with Gupta period. My question is then why this marvel steel lillar was not uprooted by Muslim kingdom. May be that they thought that it will add to beauty of structure of the mosque. Guide showed me sign of cannon ball to thwart this pillar invain.
Iltutmish (1211-36) constructed this tomb in 1235 for himself when he was alive. 5 years before he also had constructed a famous tomb Tomb of Ghari near Qutb complex for his son Nasiruddin.
This tomb also signifies that dependence of demolished temples ceased but still dome structure could not be achieved. Dome was tried on top of tomb four walls but it collapsed. Later Firuz Tuglaq a;so tried but that also failed.
There are most beautiful Quranic inscriptions. Most of internal structure is of red stone with central mehrab made of marble. The tomb also has designs inside which pertain to Hindus such as wheel , bell and lotus etc.
Constructed in 1311 AD by Allauddin Khilji and is the first Islamic structure to be constructed with Islamic design principles and with red stone.
It was used as entry gate form south for the mosque. Just note that in Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque which was constructed about 110 years back stones was used and there was much scarcity or may be no arab artistry was used while in Alai Darwaza it is totally differet architecture and art work , use of sand stone, dome etc. By the time Hindu artists got conversant with arab architecture of erecting dome. Now also the dependence on demolished temple stone was not needed. Instaed red brick stone was used.
Alluddin tomb and madarsa
Allauddin Khilji tried to erect a tower double the height of Qutb minar by constructing structure of double the diameter but he died before even ground tower finished.
I think this is the best monument to understand muslim rulers and involvement of architecture and art from stone to brick work, usage of Hindu art to splendid arab art of inscriptions from late 12th century to mid 14th century. The similar architecture also continued in time of sixth city Purana quila (till Sher sha Suri) where stone as well as red brick were used and a combination of Hindu and Muslim artwork. Guide is a must for this place. Even today it may be a research ground for some of the unanswered questions.
Appreciate ASI for very neatly maintained complex and full of greenery. It feels as a historical park here. Three hours are required to visit this complex.