Day 2: Qutab Minar

Good morning,
Welcome to another scheduled post, while I travel to Amritsar and settle in.  4+ days in Delhi – wow, not nearly enough and way too much at the same time.  

The last spot on our Day 2 tour was Qutab Minar.  This site is a little complicated because so much happened here so I hope I get it all right.

Before the first Mughal invasion of this area, there had been previous invaders.  The original community that was here had some 27 hindu temples on this site.  I am told that the original people in this area were told to convert or die.  Some converted and some escaped but, at the time, no one remained to mourn the loss of the temples.  Those temples were destroyed to first build a mosque (now in ruins) and then the Qutab Minar was build, a massive sandstone and marble tower.

Above the entryway to the mosque is an inscription in Persian which I am told says “With the help of all mighty God, we have rid this place of 27 temples.”

To the left you will see the sandstone and marble tower.  There are five distinct levels to the tower and each is unique.  only the first two were designed by the original conquerer, who declared himself to be a king.  The other three were added but three subsequent Mughal rulers.  On each of the columns, verses from the Quran are inscribed in Persian script.

 The first level  contains a mix of rounded and angular columns. and is made of strips of sandstone and marble.  The second level contains only rounded columns, the third only angular.  Both of these levels are also made of strips of sandstone and marble.  The fourth and fifth levels are both made from marble.

There is not a specific pattern in the mixed marble/sandstone columns, as you can see in one of the pictures below.  Some areas are more marble and some more sandstone, with no particular pattern.  

When subsequent rulers could not longer increase the height of the tower, they added to the site in other ways, including arched walls in seemingly random areas.  These archways are intricately carved and sometimes continue to use carved stone remnants of the earlier Hindu temples.

Most of the archways have fallen to ruins and I am told only the tower itself is maintained regularly.  The mosque was abandoned some time ago and the whole site is now a UNESCO heritage site.

The mosque itself was built from the stone ruins of the 27 temples.  Depictions of people and especially gods of other faiths is prohibited inside an Islamic mosque, yet on many of the columns you can find carvings of Vishnu, Ganesha, dancing girls and other Hindu related personages.

The site is spectacular and so sad at the same time.  I’m glad that you are allowed to get right up and touch the ruins rather than having to stand behind ropes.  To be able to get up close and see where someone had tried to scrape the face off of Ganesha brought home in a real way that hundred or maybe thousands (no one knows) died here, or were forcible converted here, or had to flee their homes here.

In the centre of the mosque is a big iron post with Hindi inscriptions on it.  Apparently it was brought there before the Mughals came by a local Hindi leader.  You can see the marks on its base which show that someone tried to take it down but failed.  So there it stood, this Hindi iron post in the centre of the mosque.

I hope you all enjoy the pictures!

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