Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world, and an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture. The tower is in the Qutb complex in South Delhi, India. The Qutub Minar and its monuments are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Qutub Minar is 72.5 metres high (237.8 ft) with 399 steps leading to the top. Although formerly closed, visitors can reach the top of the tower by paying a fee of 500 INR or about 12$. The diameter of the base is 14.3 metres wide while the top floor measures 2.75 metres in diameter.
Qutab Minar Stone Tower, Delhi, India
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Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork from the time it was built in 1193. A second tower was in construction and planned to be taller than the Qutub Minar itself. Its construction ended when it was about forty feet tall.
It is evident from the Indian History and has been accepted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that the place where Qutub Minar stands today was once occupied by about 20 Jain temples. These were demolished and the stones reused to build the present complex. An inscription stating this has been put by ASI some 10 meters from the base of the minaret. Jain tirthankar figurines can be found on many pillars and walls of the complex.
Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193, but could only complete its basement. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys and, in 1368, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last storey. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tuglak are quite evident in the minaret. Like earlier towers erected by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in Afghanistan, the Qutub Mahal comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carried on Muqarnas corbels. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Qutub Minar is itself built on the ruins of Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Jat Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi.
The purpose for building this beautiful monument has been speculated upon. It can take the usual role of a minaret, calling people for prayer in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. Other possibilities are a tower of victory, a monument signifying the might of Islam, or a watch tower for defence. Controversy also surrounds the origins for the name of the tower. Many historians believe that the Qutub Minar was named after the first Turkish sultan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak but others contend that it was named in honour of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint from Baghdad who came to live in India who was greatly venerated by Iltutmish. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517). Major R.Smith also repaired and restored the minaret in 1829.