Qutub Minar in Delhi
Constructed As A Holy Minar
The world famous towering Qutub Minar, started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1192-98), breathes down the neck of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. There is a slight difference of opinion as to its purpose: it probably was a tower of victory, but then again it could have been built to be a minar (tower), attached to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, for the muezzin (priest) to climb up top for a prayer.
Other Belief of Its Construction
Among Delhites there are lots of other theories about the origin of the tower. Some say it was the observatory of the great scientist Aryabhatta of ancient India, other claim that it was built by Prithvi Chauhan for his daughter to see the Yamuna. In fact everything short of an extraterrestrial origin has been attributed to it. The presence of the ancient non-rusting Iron Pillar within the complex further appears to add credence to the first theory. However the tower, its entire design and architecture are undisputedly Islamic and all the other theories are just matters of wild surmise.
Considering how shortchanged he was for time, it is doubtful that Qutub-ud-din got much further than a couple of levels of the minar, in fact many suggest that lived to see only the first storey complete. Altamash, his successor, completed the remaining tower.
Measures Taken To Keep The Minar In Perfect Shape
It is clear that the tower was very close to the sultanate's heart, since repeated efforts were made to keep it in perfect shape. In its long career, the tower got hit by lightening twice - something that, of course, with its height it was literally asking for. Once during the reign of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, who very decently repaired the ensuing damage. The next time was in the indefatigable builder Feroze Shah Tughlaq's time, when the topmost storey got damaged. Feroze Shah, who of course couldn't well leave things alone, not only repaired the floor, but also sneaked in another level.
The result of this combined effort is an interesting mix in styles that is clearly discernable all over the tower. Each of the original three storeys has different designs. The base storey has alternate angular and circular flutings while those of the second one are round and the third one has only angular flutings. Their alignment is mercifully similar, so giving the tower a rhythmic harmony. The pretty projecting balconies have a very interesting pattern, with icicle-shaped pendentive (an intricate design in which triangular pieces of vaulting spring from the corners of a rectangular area and support a rounded or polygonal dome) type of brackets. The attractiveness of the balconies is heightened by the bands of sonorous inscriptions. The diameter (at base) of the Qutub Minar is 14.32m and about 2.75m at the top.
The Attraction of Crownig Cupola
The tower had a crowning cupola on the top at one time, however this was struck down sometime in the early 19 th century, an earthquake felled it. This was replced by a well meaning English engineer Major Smith. However it must have looked quite an eyesore for when Lord Hardinge was Governor-general of British India, he had it removed. You can see it now on the spruce lawns of the Qutub complex. Come to think of it, it must have been eyesore - it's called Smith's folly.