THE great tower, called the Kutb Minar, stands about eleven miles from modern Delhi, and is surrounded by ruins of Hindu and Muhammadan styles of all periods. Leaving Delhi by the Lahore gate, the road passes the remains of the Janter Manter, or observatory, on the left, and the mausoleum of Safter Jang, about half way to the Kutb, on the right. The Janter Manter was erected by the Rajah Jai Sing, of Jaipur, in the reign of Muhammad Shah, about A.D. 1720, for astronomical purposes. It consists of several buildings, which having remained unused for some time, are now in a state of ruin. Safter Jang's tomb was erected by Nawab Shuja-dulah, his son, and was planned somewhat after the model of the Taj at Agra. It is of red sandstone, surmounted by a marble dome, and occupies the centre of a garden about 300 yards square. From here on to the Kutb, one passes several ruined tombs on both sides of the road and enters the Kutb grounds under an old archway. On the left is the Dak Bungalow, consisting of two small buildings where travellers can be housed for twenty-four hours. There are two roads, the chief one continuing straight on through the northern part of the ruins, whilst the other diverges to the left and, passing between the two buildings of the Dak Bungalow to the planted grounds, surrounds the minar and then rejoins the main road. The local authorities of Delhi keep up this part of the ground about the Minar as a garden. The cool shade of the trees and pleasant aspect of the ruins surrounded by turf, are a refreshing relief after the dusty road from Delhi. Approaching it from the road, no one can fail to be impressed by the great height of the Minar, which from base to summit is enriched by broad and frequent bands of elaborately carved ornament. It is a remarkable thing that from a distance of only a few hundred yards occasional glimpses of the tapering culmination of the Minar only are caught, and its size does not appear to be so very great. But this illusion is entirely dispelled when one finds oneself in close proximity to the lofty structure. Its architectural majesty and grandeur become very impressive.

Referring to the Plan, it will be seen that the greater number of the buildings still standing (represented in black) lie to the south-west; the whole area of the enclosure extends some distance to the north, where ruins only now remain, the enclosing wall being barely traceable.

In order to understand the disposition of the different buildings, it is best to ascend the first story of the Kutb Minar. The lower door faces the north, but the upper doorways, leading out from the central staircase to the galleries on the level of the three stories, face the west. Let the reader place himself, in imagination, at the doorway of the first story. Taking the neighbouring buildings first, the road passing the Minar to the right and under the archway at E (see Plan) leads on to the village of Mihroli, about a quarter of a mile distant, and by it the walls of Lalkot are reached. Adam Khan's tomb, where I lived during rny stay at the Kutb, is exactly in front and rises on a piece of elevated ground close to the walls of Lalkot, which leave it on the west and wind round to the north and east. On the left of Adam Khan's tomb (see p. 123) is Mihroli, where are several modern royal tombs worth seeing; also two large diving wells, one being in Mihroli and one outside the present village. The former was built in A.D. 1263 by Muhammad Daoud Khan and is eighty feet deep. The natives dive down into the water for a small present. They leave the top with their legs apart, but, after a precipitation through the air of nearly 80 feet, and just before reaching the water, close them sharply together. The descent of their bodies is very swift, from the impetus they have obtained in their fall through the air prior to touching the surface, and in many cases they are able to catch the coin before it has sunk to the bottom of the water. The latter well is said to have been built by Anangpal II. in A.D. 1052 when constructing the fort of Lalkot.

Between Adam Khan's tomb and the enclosed grounds of the Kutb, is an old Hindu temple called the Jog Maya. Syud Ahmed thus describes it: "This temple, which is very celebrated, is situated near the obelisk of Kutb Sahib. The Hindus imagine that, in consequence of the Rakschas1 Kans having lifted up its head (against the worshippers of Vishnu), Brahma announced the news of the Avatar of Krishna. At the end of the Dwapar age, which according to the Indian calculation lasted for 1,953 years, Krishna became the infant child of the Queen Devaki—the wife of Vasudeva. Through fear of Kans, Krishna was taken to Gokal and then to Mathura. Kans having seized the child, flung it to the ground in order to kill it, but it disappeared like lightning. It was Dear this very spot that this miracle occurred, and the Rajah Sidmal, an officer of Akbar II. (1827) had the temple erected in celebration."2

The ruins of the city of Tugluckabad are to be found about three and a half miles south of the Minar. In the same direction and perhaps half a mile further off is a small tomb which goes by the name of Molana Jumali. It was erected in A.D. 1528, by Fiezulla Khan alias Julal-ud-din, who spent a portion of his life there as an ascetic. The building consists of a small apartment decorated inside with encaustic tiles and coloured plaster, into the surface of which are incised a number of elegant arabesques; the exterior is ornamented with blue and yellow glazed tiles, samples of which I procured and brought to England in order to have them deposited in the Museum at Kensington. Fiezulla Khan was a celebrated poet in the reign of the Emperors Baber and Humayun, and was buried at this spot in A.D. 1535.

Between this and the Minar is the building which Sir Theophilus Metcalfe when resident at the Court of Delhi converted into a habitable dwelling. Formerly it was the tomb of Muhammad Kuli Khan, foster-brother to the Emperor Akbar, and was built about the middle of the sixteenth century. On a clear day the Jumma Masjid and Fort at Delhi may be distinctly seen to the left of this building; also the tombs of Safter Jang, Humayun, and the outline of Purana Killa.

Turning now to the buildings close to the Kutb, the earliest known city of that neighbourhood was that built by the Rajah Dilu about 50 B.C., and it was probably occupied by the Rajah Dhava, who is said to have erected the Iron Pillar (see V on the Plan II. and page 39) which stands directly below the Minar in the Court of the Colonnade (B). The Rajah Anangpal rebuilt Dilli in A.D. 676, but in A.D. 1052 Anangpal II. constructed Lalkot, the ancient walls of which may be seen to the east and north of the Kutb grounds. In A.D. 1143 the Rajah Pithora built the Fort of Rai Pithora to surround the Fort of Lalkot on three sides, and to protect the Hindu city of Delhi from the Muhammadans. The circuit of this city in the twelfth century was about four and a half miles, and encompassed twenty-seven Hindu temples, built with beautifully carved pillars. It is probable that these temples were ranged about the ground surrounding the Minar. Some of the pillars still standing particularly those at N on the plan No. II., and at the south-east corner of the outer colonnade, have the appearance of being in their original position. When the Muhammadans under Shahab-ud-din conquered and killed the Rajah Pithora in A.D. 1193, these temples, and what is traditionally known as Rai Pithora's "Butkhana" or idol temple, were then standing; however, Kutb-ud-din the ennobled slave and commander of Shahab-ud-din's army, who was left as Governor of Delhi, overturned the buildings and is said to have constructed the enclosure and Masjid (B and G on Plan II.) out of the materials and pillars of the Butkhana. The variety of styles which is presented in the columns of the courtyard renders this assumption doubtful, and implies that other materials than those furnished by the Butkhana were employed. At the present time the natives regard the courtyard as being the original Butkhana. It is thus mentioned by Syud Ahmed in the Asar-us-sunadid, who states that the building of the Minar was commenced by the Rajah Rai Pithora. It is, however, an indisputable fact that the principal part of the present structure was built by Shams-ud-din Altamsh in A.D. 1229. Kutb-ud-din built the large gate at H to the west and there is one of his inscriptions on the gate at K to the north. Gn the Eastern Gateway he inscribed the date of his victory over the Muhammadans.

The gateways to the west at E and F were built by the Emperor Shams-ud-din Altamsh in A.D. 1229, and his daughter constructed his tomb (at I) in A.D. 1235. In A.D. 1310 the Emperor Ala-ud-din Muhammad Shah Kilji built the gateway at on the plan, and commenced to enlarge the area of the Mosque to the north. The portion of wall at S, T, and R, still remains to testify to this work, and the length of the wall (S, T) corresponds to that of the side of the South Colonnade. It becomes therefore apparent that Ala-ud-din had the intention of extending the buildings, and thus of eclipsing in size and grandeur all that had been erected by his predecessors. He commenced a second tower or minar (Q), which now is a heap of rubble masonry, and built a mosque and school to the south-west of the enclosure (at A), where upon his death in A.D. 1317 tradition says he was buried.

The small tomb outside the South Colonnade and wall containing the remains of a Muhammadan Fakir, Syud Imam Zamin, was built in the year A.D. 1537. In overlooking the Kutb ruins as they now exist, our principal historical interest in them lies in their being the record of the Muhammadan invasion of India and the downfall of Hindu reign. Excepting where the materials of the pre-existent Hindu temples are used,—such as carved pillars, brackets, lintels, &c.—the buildings are the best of a few examples of highly ornamented Pathan architecture, and form a powerful contrast in their massiveness and vigour to the refined and elegant architecture of the succeeding Muhammadan rulers—the Moguls—the builders of the sumptuous Taj at Agra, and the Fort and Palaces of Shahjahanabad.

  • 1. "The 'Rakshashas'' are gigantic and malignant kings."—Elphistone, vol. i. 170.
  • 2. De Tassy, "Description dea Monuments de Delhi en 1852."