I HAVE previously alluded to the architecture of the Pathans as characterised l)y vigour, massiveness and grandeur; and in looking at the Kutb Minar one cannot resist the reflection that whilst these tough warriors were endowed with the lighting qualities of giants, they could also build like them and were moreover far from unskilful in the application and use of graceful and beautiful forms. The contrast thus instituted between the qualities of vigour and those of a more delicate nature is at once striking and agreeable. Mr. Fergusson, in writing about the Kutb Minar, bestows on it a large measure of praise. He writes: "The minaret of the Mosque of Hassan at Cairo is known to be loftier than this pillar; but as the Minar is an independent building it has a far nobler appearance, and, both in design and finish, far surpasses its Egyptian rival, as indeed it does any building of its class."
The material used throughout the whole of the exterior surface is the red sandstone, with the following exceptions: In the fourth and fifth stories, there are white marble bands. In the fourth compartment a facing of marble has a belt of dark stone at the bottom; in the fifth there are two belts of white marble and some ornamental work close under the cornice of the uppermost terrace. The construction of the pillar is somewhat curious. At the base the plan is alternately angular and fluted; in the second compartment the flutes are all circular, and in the third they are again all angular; the intermediate galleries being supported by honeycombed bracketing, which is by no means the least important feature of successful ornament in the pillar.
The history and different periods of erecting the pillar are recorded in the various bands of Arabic inscriptions which occur in the compartments. Some bands, however, only contain verses from the Koran. The first story contains six bands; but the letters in the first one have become obliterated, and when repairs were effected a correct restoration was not made. Only this can be recognised by Syud Ahmed: "Amir-ul-Amra Sipah, Salar Juliliil Kubir;"1 ' and these are the recognized titles of Kutb-ud-din, so that probability is thus lent to the assertion that the base of the tower was commenced by him.
The second band speaks in terms of praise of Mozuffur, Moiz-ud-din, Muhammad Bin Sam. The occurrence, here and in the fourth line, of this name, which is that of Kutb-ud-din's sovereign master, is quite in accordance with this theory.
The third line contains verses from the Koran.
In the fourth line is set forth the praise of Moiz-ud-din Abulmozuffur Mahammed Bin Sam.
The fifth line consists of the ninety-nine names of "God Almighty."
The sixth line contains verses from the Koran.
Although it is reasonable to assume that Kutb-ud-din commenced the basement of the Minar, the great work of completing it fell to the share of his brother-in-law Altamsh and the column is consequently connected with his name in particular.
On the entrance-doorway facing the north is written:—"The Minar of Sultan Shamsud- din Altamsh, having been injured, was repaired during the reign of Sikunder Shah son of Bahlol, by Futeh Khan, son of Khawas Khan in A.H. 909 = 1503 A.D." In the second story there are two bands.
The first line contains the name and praise of Sultan Sharus-ud-din Altamsh.
The second fine contains verses from the Koran respecting the summons to prayer on Friday.
Over the doorway facing the west, outside the first gallery, is written, "That Sultan Shams-ud-din ordered the completion of the Building."
There is one band inscription in the third compartment which contains the praise of Sultan Shams-ud-din Altamsh, and on one side the builder's name is inscribed,—Muhammad Amircho. Over the doorway to the west, on the gallery, are inscribed the praise of Shams-ud-din.
Over the doorway in the fourth story there is an inscription recording that the Minar was ordered to be erected during the reign of Altamsh. The doorway inscription in the fifth story is in Arabic letters and Persian dialect:— "This minaret was damaged by a thunderbolt and repaired by Firuz Shah in A.H. 770 (A.D. 1368).
"This inscription (the fifth story) has an important bearing upon the history of the minaret itself, though it merely tells us that Firuz repaired the damage caused by lightning; but, taken in connection with the Sultan's own words in his Autobiography (see page 88) we gather a distinct affirmation that the minaret was commenced under the auspices of Moiz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam, which fully bears out the suggestive reading of the name of Kutb-ud-din Sipah Salar, as still legible upon the bands of the lower story."2
Many Muhammadan writers call the pillar the Minar of Altamsh, but it is obvious, as has already been pointed out, that it was commenced by Muhammad Ghori. The mention of one of the titles of Kutb-ud-din makes it highly probable that he was the officer directly concerned his carrying out the wishes of his sovereign. And additional probability is lent to this by the fact of the Minar being called the Kutb-minar. I myself believe that Kutb-ud-din commenced the work. It is known for certain that the Emperor Shams-ud-din Altamsh continued and completed it between A.D. 1229 and 1236. Firuz Shah had it repaired in A.D. 1368; and the Sultan Sikander Bhalol again repaired it in the year A.D. 1503. Finally, the British Government in 1826 had it thoroughly put in order by Major Robert Smith, of the Engineers, who put up the balustrades round each gallery, repaired the lower entrance, and constructed the cupola of the Minar now on an artificial mound between the Minar and the Dak Bungalow; but all are quite unsuitable in style to the original ornament, and the cupola was removed by order of Government (under Lord Hardinge) from the top of the Minar in 1847 or 1848.
Syud Ahmed maintains that originally there were seven compartments, and that the ...
- 1. Thomas's "Pathan Kings of Delhi," page 24. "There is a further record of his active participation in the erection of these buildings, on the defaced lower hand of the Minar immediately over the foundation course where his recognised titles are still legible."
- 2. Thomas, "Pathan Kings of Delhi," p. 284.