Qutub Minar – The Stone Structure and the Soul Within

Qutub Minar

Wow! That is what I thought as I rounded a corner and set my eyes on her, she had not changed, she was the same since I saw her some 6 years back. There she stood, towering over everything around her as silent ode to her makers. I hastened my steps, eager to look at her from close quarters and be once again swept off my feet by her sheer grace and beauty.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

I was in Delhi as an invitee for the launch of the new Tata Tigor car and the fact that she was at an arm’s length of desire spurred me towards her.

As I came closer to her, she seemed to assume gigantic proportions and soon my puny self was dwarfed by her massive size.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Yes, the Qutub Minar, with a towering height of 240 feet, a width of 47 feet at the base that tapers to 8 feet at the top does look huge when you get close to it. Qutub Minar is probably one of the most iconic and recognisable landmarks of Delhi and India, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India’s capital city.

The Qutub Minar started taking shape sometime in the year 1192 under the aegis of Qutb Al-Din Aibak, a ruler of the Turkic Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The giant tower that would eventually rise from the earth was to be a commemoration of victory over the erstwhile rulers of the land. However the king’s dream of seeing his victory monument completed faced an early death as he could complete only the first storey before he himself died. It fell on his son-in-law and successor Iltutmish to continue his labour of love. Iltutmish managed to build another 3 storeys. The Qutub Minar as we see it now was finally completed by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in the year 1369.

The Qutub Minar now stands majestically, a structure with 5 storeys, each with a balcony jutting out. Red sandstone has been used in the construction of the first 3 storeys while the top 2 are of marble and sandstone. The design and material used are signs of the changing times in which the tower was constructed. The Qutub Minar stands majestically amidst other structures of the same era. Very near the foot of the Qutub Minar is situated what is supposed to be the first mosque built in India, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. There is an iron pillar in the courtyard of the mosque which rises to a height of 7 metres above the ground. Local myth has it that if you can encircle the pillar with your hands while standing with your back to it, your wishes will turn into reality.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

Though the Qutub Minar from a distance looks like a plain structure jutting out from the earth, somewhat akin to a giant chimney, a closer look will ensure that you change your mind. The structure is embellished with inscriptions and the balconies supported by decorative brackets provide a tone of beauty. The red sandstone and marble add to the simple beauty of the structure. The lush green lawns and the ruins of old structures that surround the Qutub Minar lend it an aura of intrigue, which seems to thicken as the sun sets and its shadow lengthens.

As I look at the Qutub and try to capture its image from every conceivable angle with my camera, sometimes squatting cross-legged on the cobbled floor and at other times lying prostate on my back, I am struck by another aspect of the Qutub. It is as if a veil has lifted and I see the structure beautiful as ever but with a streak of melancholia, a hint of tragedy.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

I look around, and see tourists clicking photos, local couples moving around hand in hand, kids screaming and jumping around as their parents are deep in a domestic discussion. My mind travels at the speed of light to another similar day, many, many years ago, when the Qutub Minar was open to the public and one could climb the narrow staircase to reach the top. It was Friday, the 4th of December, 1981. A group of excited school children, chattering away to glory entered the dark staircase that led to the top of the Qutub Minar. Many of them did not return alive. An electrical failure had resulted in the staircase being enveloped in darkness, which in turn created panic resulting in a stampede.

The entry inside Qutub Minar has been shut since that fateful day.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

The sound of a plane, brought me back from the labyrinthine corridors of history in which I was lost. I looked up as a plane flew past the Qutub Minar, quite close, or so it appeared to my benumbed mind. As I continued to stare at the Qutub Minar who somehow now seemed to have acquired the contours of a bewitching beauty with a fatal attraction, I thought of one of the theories of why the Qutub Minar was built. The Qutub Minar was supposedly built to celebrate victory in war. War,  of course spelled bloodshed, so the red sandstones that constituted the Qutub Minar was stained by the blood of numerous unknown and unsung warriors. An Inscription in Persian near the Mosque also proclaims that the Mosque was built with the debris obtained by the demolition of 27 places of worship of the erstwhile kingdom which had been defeated.

So the questions that plagued me somehow seemed to mar the beauty of the Qutub Minar.

Was the Qutub Minar a structure stood triumphantly celebrating the destruction of other structures that predated it?

Was not the Qutub Minar in many ways a glorification of war rather than a commemoration of victory?

I made my way away from the Qutub Minar, these thoughts whirring in my mind.

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

I turned to have one last look at her before she disappeared from sight, I saw her bathed in a the golden glow of the setting sun, a smile seemed light up her face. I could almost hear her say, “I am nothing but sand, stone and marble, whatever I am, it is Man who has given me shape”. “It is the same sand, stone and marble which Man uses to shape structures according to his whims and fancies”. “Sometimes he builds Mausoleums and Temples, and at other times he builds towers and forts”.

I smiled to myself and thought, whatever may be the history behind the Qutub Minar, I was smitten for life by her beauty and would return again and again for a glimpse of her elegantly poised beauty. I was happy to that I had understood the Qutub Minar- The stone structure and the soul within.

Qutub Minar



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93 thoughts on “Qutub Minar – The Stone Structure and the Soul Within

  1. Sally Reply

    Wow wow wow. The details on the Qutub Minar are simply amazing – I love the close-up shots! That shot with the plane is pretty epic too.

  2. Julie Reply

    It is awesome place of India , heritage and wonderful destination, thank you for sharing the nice blog and pictures.

  3. Megan Jerrard Reply

    Truly is a beautiful masterpiece – and so intricate in detail once you get right up close! I had no idea that Delhi had such iconic monuments within the city itself. It sounds silly but when I’m visiting these kind of historic monuments I often like to think about the history and changes in society over the hundreds of years that they would have seen. The world moving and changing so drastically around them, but the Qutub Minar staying the same 🙂

  4. Natasha Reply

    Majestic is a great way to describe this amazing structure. How lucky that you got to see it not once, but again a second time. I love learning about history and seeing new landmarks so hopefully I get to see someday!

  5. Vera Bortolotto Reply

    All I can say is WOW! Qutub Minar is beautiful! The architecture is simply stunning. Hopefully I would be able to go to Delhi one day to see their rich history.

  6. Ana John Reply

    This place is truly amazing. Its a beautiful structure. Best place to hangout with friends, click picture and to spend good time with.

  7. Jacqui S Reply

    I love seeing structures like this from around the world. It just reminds us how different our cultures are from other another. America isn’t as old as some of these places, but I would loved to see things like this here.

  8. mark wyld Reply

    Another great Indian site that I had never heard of. It is like the Indian Eiffel Tower lol. Such a pity that one cannot climb it anymore but such tragic circumstances that lead to this closure as well

  9. Melanie Reply

    I would be in awe looking at this structure! How awesome that you have been here to visit more than once. I hope to do more traveling in the future once the kids are older.

  10. Christina Reply

    I love India’s historic sights and Qutub Minar is a classic. It’s great how Delhi has both historic and modern sides to the city. And I hope Delhi’s history continues to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

  11. travel blogger Reply

    I love fascinating pieces like this with such a history. That is terrible that people died in there when it lost power. I had never heard that before. If I ever make it back to India, I would love to see this in person.

  12. Punita Malhotra Reply

    I pass by the Qutub Minar every few days, since I live 15 minutes away, and I never miss an opportunity to glance at it. It looks specially lovely in the evening dusk. The detailed carvings on the tower are exquisite and I wish I could decipher the lettering inscribed over it.

  13. Ana Rose | Roads and Pages Reply

    Qutub Minar is new to me. I have never heard it before until I read this post of yours. You have such a good command in expressing your thoughts. I love how you weave your words while describing Qutub Minar.

  14. Dogvills Reply

    I heard India is such a beautiful country with amazing architecture. Your photos are amazing and I love the way you described Qutub Minar. I hope someday I could go and visit it with my family.

  15. Nikki Reply

    That is such a beautiful structure, but such a sad story for why it’s closed now. India is home to some of the most gorgeous architecture. My grandparents spent some time there years back (they were missionaries with Mother Theresa) and brought home amazing photos. I’d love to see it someday.

  16. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie Reply

    I had never heard of the Qutub Minar before. I love how you combined some history with your own personal story. How horrible it was the site of such a tragedy! Your post also reminds me of how little I know of Indian history. It would be great to visit and learn more.

  17. danik Reply

    Wow, I have never heard of Qutub Minar before but this looks amazing. Adding it to my list when I eventually visit the region. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. Ali Rost Reply

    This is my first time hearing about Qutub Minar and it looks simply amazing! My husband and I love visiting places like this with so much history. Like so many others around the world .. some of the most historic are also places of great tragedy. Hopefully we’ll be able to see it in person one day!

  19. sherianne Reply

    This is my first awareness of Qutub Minar. The sand stone is so pretty and the detail is amazing. I would love to stand on the balcony and see it up close. Very sad story regarding its closure

  20. LeAnna Brown Reply

    I really enjoyed seeing the historical sites of Delhi, including the Qutub Minar. I agree that up close, it’s intricacies are stunning!

  21. Elizabeth O. Reply

    It’s a beautiful tower and it saddens me that you can no longer go inside and tour it. I think it’s stunning and it’s awesome that it’s being maintained and preserved.

  22. Claudia Reply

    Such a unique and beautiful structure! love the design and color too. I guess it has its benefit that now you can no longer go inside.. perhaps its best to preserve the structure as it is a UNESCI Heritage site. And what a sad and heartbreaking story of the children :'(

  23. Marina Reply

    I have not heard about Qutub Minar but I am so glad that you share this! The place looks wonderful and I always been in love with Islamic architecture. I will pit this on my List when I travel there. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Gokul Raj Reply

    I have never been to Delhi. This minaret is such an iconic part of the Indian heritage. Would love to see it in person.

  25. Anne Reply

    What a strange sight. I’d never heard of it so it’s one to add to the list. How awful about those school kids though

  26. Sarah Ebner Reply

    What a beautiful post – such a mixed history in all this, with sadness and beauty. Absolutely fascinating. I can see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site too.

  27. Debra Schroeder Reply

    Qutub Minar is quite impressive. And such a fascinating story behind it’s building. So sad that all those children died and that no one can go inside Qutub Minar.

  28. Rachel Pearson Reply

    I hadn’t heard of the Qutub Minar, but it she looks truly spectacular. You can’t tell how tall it is at first, but though your description you can really get a feel for it! I loved your “I am nothing but sand, stone and marble, whatever I am, it is Man who has given me shape” comment, it is very true!

  29. knycx.journeying Reply

    Beautiful photos and thanks for your introduction. The monument is really special because it didn’t seem much in the beginning, and then more and more refine details were discovered. @ knycx.journeying

  30. Vicki Louise Reply

    I had no idea this monument existed before your post! It looks beautiful and I’d love to see it in real life. Hopefully one day!

  31. Love U Wedding Reply

    that tower looks very nice!! i love to visit the place someday!

  32. sophie Reply

    looks great, traveling to mumbai next month from Bali and after that too delhi, and guess what this place is on my bucketlist for my delhi visit. Thanks for the info! Cheers!

  33. The Travel Ninjas Reply

    What a fantastic post. You made the Qutub Minar come alive. I feel like I did glimpse its soul through your well-crafted words. The history of Qutub Minar is so long and so fascinating. The recent tragedy in 1981 is the most troublesome for me. My first though when reading this post was, “can I climb it?” I wanted to be able to, but after learning about that tragedy, I’m glad they take steps to keep everyone safe.

  34. Reshma Narasing Reply

    I didn’t know there were so many stories hidden behind this majestic monument, including the fact that the Minar was marked with blood stains. I also thought none can climb the stairs, but saddened to find a tragic story behind its closure. I love the close-up photographs which highlights the details vividly. A great post that took me back in time.

  35. Tami Reply

    I hate to admit this but I had never heard of this tower before. But your story reminds me of how I felt when I saw the Rome coliseum, and I thought of all the people who had died there in the name of entertainment. It is an amazing structure and it has lasted for millenia, but then it was also used to kill Christians and for gladiators to fight to the death. Very mixed feelings! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

  36. Danijela WorldGlimpses Reply

    Imposing tower! It is huge, but it’s not just the size of it – I was astonished by those beautiful details carved into stone. And such particular atmosphere surrounding it, the events you’ve mentioned… Thanks for sharing!

  37. Iris Reply

    Qutub Minar sounds completely new to me, though I think I must now add it to my bucket list! I love how majestic and exotic it looks. I am used to Italian buildings which are characterised by a specific classical style, so I’d adore experiencing some eastern architecture. Great job anyway! 🙂

  38. Fabio Reply

    In my first time in Delhi I went to Qutub Minar, after that, many times more I went to India and never made it there again. To be honest I was there but I didn’t know the history of it… also that happened in the 80’s with the kids 🙁 If I head there again sure that I will have a different experience!

  39. Kiwi Reply

    What beautiful photos. I love how ou captured these monuments. You were very descriptive and I felt you made a connection on your trip here I am inspired.

  40. Aditi nair Reply

    The article or write up was very well written. The use of snapshots with the words describing it,was what I adored the most . Mainly the use of present tense was very nicely done. As well as I think ,while reading the text ,I really felt like I am there standing between the people, which was the best part.

  41. Scenes From Nadine (Nadine Smith) Reply

    The Qutub Minar has some pretty intricate and amazing details! Great capture! The history of the monuments are so rich! India really has the most incredible architecture. All those beautiful structures, temples, and monuments are worth seeing.

  42. PRERNA SINHA Reply

    I have visited the Qutab Minar many years ago and I had no idea about the school kids incident. Very tragic. I hope they open it for us to get a view from the top.

  43. Ambuj Saxena Reply

    Hey! Nice share! I am a partner with Delhi Heritage Foundation that aims to conserve the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Delhi! Your blog post aptly proves why Qutub Minar is one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  44. Nisha Reply

    Very well written. The crisp narration with interesting information and the photographs to support the words.
    I grew up in Delhi but looks like I need to go there again. You have made me nostalgic.

  45. Megan Reply

    I’ve seen Qutub Minar in pictures but didn’t know much about it. Looks like another destination to add to my list. Thanks for sharing.

  46. Chris Reply

    She certainly looks a beauty, and thanks to your words I now understand a conflicted past.

    Such a tragedy with those school children some 26 years ago…

  47. Ami Reply

    This one was such an unexpected trip… And I am so glad that we managed to go here.. At least for that little time. It sure was majestic

  48. Nicole Reply

    Wow! The way in which you described the monument, your thoughts, and it’s history was stunning. India has been a dream of mine since I was 15. I had a chance to go the very summer before I turned 16 and injured myself to the point of not being able to travel. I’m planning a trip next year and now after reading your beautiful post I will be adding this to my Bucket list of things to see.

  49. jessica Reply

    the qutub minar is something i’d love to see in person someday and i love your point of view…especially hearing her whisper to you as you walked away. on my list of things to see!!

  50. Jane Reply

    That is one magnificent sight! I’ve never heard of this place before and the materials used to build the tower looks similar to the ones I’ve seen in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

  51. Anthony Ronald Reply

    Very informative and interesting post. I’m dissapointed at myself I didn’t visit whilst I was there. Will be sure to catch it next time!

  52. Samantha Sparrow Reply

    Such an amazing history lesson, your writing really draws me in and I’ve definitely learnt something!!! Qutub Minar is absolutely beautiful. The tower and height, the stone structure and the colours make it so unusual. Thanks for sharing.

  53. cathy Reply

    whatever may be the history behind the Qutub Mina, it sure does have a deeper meaning. The tower looks like it stands for something greater and symbolises something. It’s beautiful.

  54. CARMEN Reply

    I have been here before. And i was also smitten by its elegance and beauty. Great for photo shoot as well. You will surely have instagram-worthy pictures

  55. sophie Reply

    This is hell of a great art! I never heard about this place in India first. how far is this place from Delhi Taj? Because i am traveling to delhi next month and i hope if this place can be visited from delhi then i would love to do it. Thanks for this writeup! gave me a great place to add in my list. Cheers!

  56. Kristina Reply

    Very interesting read! It’s so amazing how old some of these famous buildings or structures in the world are and how they are STILL standing. I’ve never been to India before but I bet itd he AMAZING to see!

  57. Jessica Hughes Reply

    I’ve never been to India and I’d never heard of the Qutub Minar before. It really does just look like a tower when you first see pictures of it in the distance, but when you see the close-up pictures, it is absolutely breathtaking! The red sandstone and the marble are so beautiful and the gorgeous detailing really do make this such an amazing site to see.

  58. Neha Saini Reply

    It is a great example of medieval Indian architecture. It is also set in a fine surrounding complex of historical buildings each with a story to tell. One of the real highlights in New Delhi. Interesting part of India’s rich cultural heritage

  59. Jaime Reply

    Your photos are fantastic. The one with the plane going overhead makes it look so much closer (I’m assuming it had plenty of room!)

  60. Tonya Wilhelm Reply

    Wow! You got that right. What an amazing sight. That tower is so tall and the design is great. All those intricate features, I’m awestruck.

  61. Liz Mays Reply

    These structure and its intricate carvings are incredibly impressive. It’s really cool that they were able to complete it even after the first ruler had passed.

  62. travel blogger Reply

    This is so fascinating! I can’t believe how old this tower is. If I ever make it back to India, I will have to check this out. I love ancient relics like this.

  63. Jessica Harlow Reply

    This is such a beautiful structure especially against the sky. I love the combination of sandstone and marble and how it’s so intricate looking up close! Beautiful photos!

  64. Lisa Reply

    I’ve never heard of this but that is some really impressive work! Thanks for capturing all the photos to share with us!

  65. Nancy Horn Reply

    Oh wow. Qutub Minar looks amazing, I have never heard of it before, although I’m fascinated with the country. My brother visited India last year and said it was incredible.

  66. kelly reci Reply

    woah! that Qutub Minar looks very interesting to visit someday! i love the ambiance of the place!

  67. Our Family World Reply

    Qutub Minar is such an amazing structure. I am just sad about that unfortunate incident with the school children. I think shutting down the staircase to the public is a good move. Anyway, the tower can still be admired from afar.

  68. Dawn McAlexander Reply

    That is a really cool site! I have wanted to go to India for a long, long time. It is another place that is on my bucket list. Hopefully, I will get to see this myself one day.

  69. Annemarie LeBlanc Reply

    The Qutub Minar is so massive! It really amazes me how people from centuries ago were able to construct such a thing with just crude tools. I wish I could see this myself. Hope to be able to fulfill my Asian travel dream this year.

  70. Julie Syl Reply

    WOW! It looks so fun to visit. I am gonna take some selfies when I visit there. Hoping I can visit soon.

  71. Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai Reply

    What a beautiful stone structure. I am always amazed by old/ancient architecture. How did they build those things without the use of modern-day tools? It is fascinating to think about. I love seeing these types of structure and learning about the history behind them. Thanks for the gorgeous views. 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  72. Ademar Arau Reply

    Awesome post. Qutub Minar is the famous tourist attraction of New Delhi. I think Delhi is one of the most fascinating place in India. Delhi is so unique, adventurous, and full of surprises having a lots of culture and tradition. I agree that every should visit Delhi once in a lifetime. Pictures are really looks amazing. Thanks for the great post.

  73. Suruchi Reply

    Quite Intresting narration with pictures. I was struck with the post throughout. I stay in Delhi and whenever I cross this monument, my mind is pondered with so many thoughts and Question. The intricate design and writings on the Qutub Minar always fascinate me.

  74. neha Reply

    Such a tall structure..qutub minar is yet another example of the architectural wonders that India has. Definitely a must visit when in Delhi..although visible from far off. Loved reading here the details and story behind qutub minar.

  75. Joan Narciso Reply

    Qutb Minar is my top favorite from my India trip last year. I love your reflection on what she really is and that it is still man who made her.

    Also, I didn’t know it was once opened for the public to climb. That was a tragic story.. but still, Qutb Minar will always be painstakingly beautiful.

  76. Kate Reply

    Looks like a lovely stop! I’d love to walk around here. It seems to be close to an airport?

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