History of the Qutub Minar (Delhi): UNESCO World Heritage Site
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History of the Qutub Minar (Delhi): UNESCO World Heritage Site

February 25, 2020


Qutub Minar This 73 metre tall tower that has imperiously lorded it over the city of Delhi for hundreds
of years actually still remains the tallest brick minaret in the world. Its history is more than just a simple story. So what we know is that
the first muslim ruler of India, the first sultan, Qutubuddin Aibak, commissioned this minar in 1199AD when he was a commander for the Ghurid ruler, Ghiyasuddin Ghori. But just as the first storey was completed,
Aibak died. And then his successor Iltutmish continued the
work of his father-in-law, Aibak, and added more storeys to this minaret. Aibak and Iltutmish both had started out in
the same way – they were both slaves who ultimately became kings. As young boys, they were sold and resold from
one master to another in the markets of Persia. Which is also why their dynasty – the first
ever muslim dynasty in India – is called the Mamluk dynasty – Mamluk in Arabic means property. Slaves were a property. Both, Iltutmish and Aibak, spent their childhood slave years around the city of Jam in Afghanistan which has a similar minaret as the Qutub Minar so its probable
that it shaped their idea of power & rule in their minds, and thats why they made one when they became
rulers. But the Qutub Minar could not possibly have brought the joy it brings to its visitors now back when it was built, the natives of Delhi. Because back then, the coming of the Ghurids to Delhi was the biggest ever power shift people had witnessed. The ghurids had defeated the Rajputs and established
the first ever muslim rule in Delhi. Imagine their confusion and horror of the people of Delhi. But history is always written by winners. The Qutub Minar is trying to tell us so many things
through the Arabic and Nagori writings on These inscriptions tell us of Qutbuddin Aibak destroying some pavilions that had existed on this site before the Minar, but there is no
mention that he did this to raise any minar in their stead. Which throws us entirely off balance because if the
pavilions had been removed to build a minaret – that’s exactly what the inscriptions would
have proudly told us. But they dont. From these writings we know that here definitely
were Hindu temples that were reshaped, remodeled in some way. In fact looking at inscriptions, we dont even
find any mention of Qutbuddin Aibak himself either, except just one actually. On the contrary, we find more references to
this minar being a dedication by Iltutmish, Qutubuddin Aibak’s successor, to the muslim saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar
Kaki, so this monument might just have been for him. Which makes sense because right along with
the Qutub Minar was commissioned a mosque which became the first-ever mosque in northern India – the
Quwwat ul Islam mosque. And the idea is that this minar was supposed
to be used by the muezzin for the azan call, Except that the Qutub Minar is 5 storeys tall..it has 379 steps. A nightmarish prospect for an old muezzin
to climb 5 storeys every day X for 5 times, and scream out an azaan..which no one on the
ground would be able to hear, let alone in the neighbourhood. And would it really be ok for a place with
a religious purpose to still allow remnants of the previous Hindu religious structures,
like these lotuses, these kalashes, these temple bells to stay when they could just as easily
have been smashed and removed like many others clearly were? Another evidence suggests Qutub does not come
either from Qutbuddin Aibak’s name or the saint’s name but in Arabic it actually astronomy. This leads us to the fact that Mehrauli comes from the Sanskrit name Mihira-awali,
coming from the time when Varaha Mihira, the astronomer under the patronage of the king
Vikramaditya, lived in this region around the 4th c BC. and had a tall tower for astronomical study,
surrounded by 27 pavilions for the 27 constellations of the Hindu zodiac. In Tarikh i Alai – the records of Alauddin
Khilji’s work left by his contemporary Amir Khusrau, bless him, tells us of Khilji erecting
this Alai darwaza here and also having ambitions to raise a rival minaret taller than the Qutub Minar itself. Of course that never happened because Khilji
commissioned the work in 1311 and died in 1316 when the work stopped. So now you just find the first storey sitting
there awkwardly – the first storey. I guess we will never properly know the history
of the Qutub Minar and that’s because 1) records are lost, 2) history does not happen in a clear, linear
pattern – and 3) sadly it is written by winners, rewritten by the ones who win next or manipulated
by the ones who couldn’t write them in the first place. So it is now up to the monument itself to tell
us its story through its walls, gateways and its stones. Like these jaalis here. When you look through these
star and hexagonal patterns, you realise that there is continuity in them…meaning you
cannot find a beginning nor an end, it represents Infinity, just like God… Then we look at these tiny ball-like motifs at the top of the dome of Imam Zamin’s tomb and Alai Darwaza, they remind of the amla motifs that have been used in the Khajuraho temples. These actually are the gooseberries. The gooseberry idea which is very sacred to the HIndus. This hexagon right here – the first look of it might tell you that this is the Jewish religious
symbol. Which is correct. But actually this hexagon is actually common to Judaism,
islam, christianity and even buddhism. and even in some prehistoric tribes going as far away as Mexico. In hinduism is means shiv-shakti – a union
of masculine and feminine energies, thus representing cosmic creation. In islam it is the Star of David and the Seal of Solomon. In other philosophies, this very same star represents the union of man and god ..leaving us all much to ponder about. When man disrupts history, it is up to these
silent stones to whisper the best stories and the Qutub Minar seems to be doing a pretty enchanting
job of it.

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  1. It's great to see new video from Historia Maxima after such a long time that's also on an Indian herritge. For me it's great information and I loved it because it's one of the non biased informative video I have seen on qutub minar. Visited many times and will love to go again and again.
    Thanks

  2. Rightly said history is written by winners.Just by visiting the complex you can say that it has seen various layers of history.Actual story of this magnificent structure seems to have lost in time..

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