The Qutub Minar Complex, one of the oldest group of monuments in Delhi and India, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has quite a few surprises
1. You can still visit the sixth storey of Qutub Minar
While you won’t be allowed to climb all the way up to the fifth storey or the top of Qutub Minar, you can still visit the sixth storey. Confused? In a corner of Qutub Minar lies the sixth storey, which till 1848 crowned the red sandstone tower. It was brought down because it looked ugly and was in contrast with the beautifully intricate design of Qutub Minar.
2. Brass or Iron?
The 1600 year old (or ‘young’) Iron Pillar of Delhi was believed to be made of brass till about 1876. Dr Percy Brown of Roorkee University carried out a detailed chemical analysis, which proved beyond doubt that the Iron Pillar was indeed made of iron.
3. The monument that has travelled the most
Major Smith’s Cupola, the sixth storey of Qutub Minar, was taken down in 1848. It was installed in two different places within the Qutub Minar Complex before it found its final resting place in 1914 to the north of Qutub Minar. It has remained stationary for over 100 years now.
4. The hidden vault of the Tomb of Iltutmish
There’s a secret vault below the Tomb of Iltutmish, which was built in 1235 AD, and where lies the original grave of Iltutmish. The vault was discovered as recently as 1914 during excavations around Qutub Minar.
5. A Minar bigger than Qutub Minar
If finished, Alai Minar (started in 1311 AD) would have been taller, bigger and grander than Qutub Minar, which would have dwarfed in front of it. The death of Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1316 AD stopped all work on Alai Minar.
6. The newest monument is almost 500 years old
The Tomb of Imam Zamin, which was built during the reign of the second Mughal emperor Humayun in 1538 AD, is the newest monument in the Qutub Minar Complex.
7. The only symmetrical monument
Alai Darwaza, to the north of Qutub Minar, is the only monument that is perfectly symmetrical, and follows the principles of Islamic architecture
8. Sanderson’s Sundial does not belong to Sanderson
The sundial was installed in honour of Gordon Sanderson of the Archaeological Survey of India, the man who made the Qutub Minar Complex what it is today. At the peak of his career in Delhi, Sanderson quit his job as an architect to fight in the First World War. He was killed in France in 1915
9. A road divided the Qutub Minar Complex
Till 1910, the Delhi-Gurgaon road ran through the middle of the Qutub Minar Complex, right next to the Tomb of Iltutmish. It was diverted to facilitate the excavation work around Qutub Minar, and today skirts around the complex.\
10. First instance in the Indian subcontinent of a college and tomb co-existing
Ala-ud-din’s Madrasa and Tomb is the first instance of a religious college and a tomb co-existing in the Indian subcontinent