The Kutb Minar. First Gallery of the Minar
The Kutb Minar. First Gallery of the Minar © British Library/Charles Shepherd

THE view was taken from the root' of Ala-ucl-din's gateway (see on plan), in order to obtain the details of the bracketing which supports the gallery above the first story, about ninety-seven feet above the ground. The mode of constructing the cornice is characteristic and consists of a series of overlapping layers of highly carved stone. Without some such feature it would have been incumbent on the builder to continue the angle fluting in the second story, but with it he added greatly to the beauty and grandeur of the Minar, and was able to introduce a variety in the upper flutin°-s. With so ornamental a material as the Arabic alphabet, it would have been difficult to fail to make the bands of inscriptions an attractive adornment ; but the richness of the subordinate ornamentation contributes in no small measure to the extreme beauty of the column. Although the decoration is lavishly applied in these bands the intervals of plain wall qualify it and prevent the eye from feeling a sensation of surfeit. The upper inscription immediately below the cornice of the first story, contains verses from the Koran. The next line consists of the ninety-nine names of God Almighty and the third band sings the praises of Moiz-ud-din Abulmozuffur, Muhammad Bin Sam. After the first story, as is here apparent, the column tapers rather suddenly, and to this fact is due the diminished impression of height which one feels in looking at it from any distance. The interior of the Minar is occupied by a spiral staircase of 379 steps, which leads to the four galleries and to the top. The stone walls are bare and unornamented—here and there being inscribed the names of various native visitors.

The assumption that Kutb-ud-din commenced the building of the tower under instructions from his imperial master Muhammad Ghori is based on tolerably accurate authority and evidence ; inscriptions on the tower bring to notice the fact of Shams-ud-din having built a considerable portion of the monument. Some historical events connected with the lives of the two former personages have been mentioned elsewhere in this account (see pages 69-70 and 93-94). The restoration of the Minar by Firuz Shah, undertaken in the year A.D. 1368, was a work of considerable magnitude and attracts attention to the principal occupation of his reign by reason of its being foremost among his numerous repairs of buildings.

In A.D. 1351 Firuz bin Eajab ascended the throne of Delhi, but at first was opposed by Khwajah-i-Jahan, the Delhi minister, who set up a supposititious son of Muhammad bin Tugluck. Firuz was a weak man, fond of wine, a sportsman and so merciful and credulous, that in less turbulent times he would have suffered great disadvantage.

The inscription on the fifth story takes notice of his having repaired the Minar, and he thus records his predilection for blinding in an autobiography called the "Futiihati- Firuz Shahi."1

"Among the gifts which God bestowed upon me his humble servant, was a desire to erect public buildings; so I built many mosques and colleges and monasteries, that the learned and the elders, the devout and the holy, might worship God in these edifices and aid the kind architect with their prayers. The digging of canals, the planting of trees and the endowing with lands, are in accordance with the direction of the law. Again, by the guidance of God, I was led to repair and rebuild the edifices and structures of former kings and ancient nobles, which had fallen into decay from lapse of time, giving the restoration of these buildings the priority over my own building works. The Jumma Masjid of old Delhi, which was built by Sultan Moiz-ud-din Sam had fallen into decay from old age and needed repair and restoration. I so repaired it that it was quite renovated.

"The western wall of the tomb of Sultan Moiz-ud-din Sam and the planks of the door had become old and rotten. I restored this, and in the place of the balcony I furnished it with doors, arches and ornaments of sandal wood.

"The Minarah of Sultan Moiz-ud-din Sam had been struck by lightning. I repaired it and raised it higher than it was before.

"The Hauz-i-Shamsi, or tank of Altamsh, had been deprived of water for years by some graceless men who stopped up the channels of supply. I punished these incorrigible men severely and opened again the closed up channels.

"The Bauz-i-Alai, or tank of Ala-ud-din (the Bauz-i-Khass) had no water in it and was filled up. People carried on cultivation in it, and had dug wells, of which they sold the water. After a generation (Karn] had passed I cleared it out, so that this great tank might be filled from year to year.

"The Madrasah (college) of Shams-ud-din Aitamsh had been destroyed. I buill it up and furnished it with sandal wood doors. The columns of the tomb which had fallen down I restoredbetter thann they had been before. When the tomb was built its court bad not been curved but I now made it so. I enlarged the hewn Stone Staircase of the dome and I re-erected the fallen piers of the four towers.

"Tomb of Sultan Moiz-ud-din, son of Sultan Shams-ud-din, which is situated in Malikpur. This had fallen into such ruin that the sepulchres were undistinguishable I re-erected the dome, the terrace and the inclosure wall. Tomb of Sultan Rukn-ud-din, son of Shams-ud-din, in Malikpur. I repaired the inclosure wall, built a new dome and erected a monastery (Khankah). Tomb of Sultan Jelal-ud-din. This I repaired and supplied with new doors. Tomb of Sultan Ala-ud-din. 1 repaired this and furnished it with sandal wood doors. I repaired the walls of the Abdar-Khanah and the west wall of the Mosque, which is within the College; and I also made good the tesselated pavement (farsh-i-tashib). Tomb of Sultan Kutb-ud-din and the (other) sons of Sultan Ala-ud-din, i.e. Khizr Khan, Shadi Khan, Farid Khan, Sultan Shahab-ud-din, Sikandar Khan, Muhammad Khan, Osman Khan and his grandsons and the sons of his grandsons. The tombs of these I repaired and renovated. I also repaired the doors of the dome and the lattice work of the tomb of Shaikh-ul-Isldm, Nizam-ul-hakk-wa-ud-din, which were made of sandal wood. I hung up the golden chandeliers with chains of gold in the four corners of the dome and I built a meeting room, for before this there was none. Tomb of Malik Tag-ul Mnllk Kafuri, the great wazir of Sultan Ala-ud-din. lie was a most wise and intelligent minister, and acquired many countries on which the horses of former sovereigns had never placed their hoofs, and caused the Khutbah of Sultan Ala-ud-din to be repeated there. He had 32,000 horsemen. His grave had been levelled with the ground and his tomb laid low. I caused his tomb to be entirely renewed, for he was a devoted and faithful servant. The Daru-i-aman, or 'house of rest.' This is the bed and resting place of great men. I had new  new sandal wood doors made for it and over the tombs of these distinguished men I had curtains and hangings suspended. The expense of repairing and renewing these tombs and colleges was provided from their ancient endowments. Jahan-panah: This foundation of the late Sultan Muhammad Shah, my kind patron, by whose bounty I was reared and educated, I restored. All the fortifications which had been built by former sovereigns at Delhi I repaired.

"I was enabled, by God's help, to build a Daru-sh-shifa, or hospital, for the benefit of every one of high or low degree who was suddenly attacked by illness or overcome by suffering."2

The reign of Firuz Shah was not celebrated for great political events, but in the construction of public works he has left a large number of records of his government. According to Ferishta he erected no less than 845 different works of more or less importance and size. Among these the most beneficial to the welfare of his subjects and the prosperity of the country were the canals by means of which he rendered barren parts of his dominions fruitful. It is said that the Sultan never transacted any business without referring to the Koran for an augury, and his beneficence in commercial projects crops up amusingly when he seeks for ecclesiastical sanction for his share of ten per cent, on the outlay.3 The Sultan engraved a code of new regulations, drawn up by himself, on the walls of his Masjid in Firuzabad. He had ordered the construction of this mosque in the year A.D. 1354. in the enceinte of his palace, and the ruins still exist near the (stone) column (at the Kotilla) . The dome of this mosque was octagonal, and on its eight sides he had caused to be engraved the abridgment of the account of his conquests, which he directed himself, also the ordinances which he made on the subject of succession; regulations for the prevention of corporal punishment and for the prevention of illegal imposts; but no traces now remain of this cupola, nor are there any ruins of it to be discovered. It is certain that it existed up to the time of the Sultan, Jahangir, but it is not known when it was destroyed.4 When Timur took Delhi, in A.D. 1398, a service was performed in this mosque for the prince—(Tuzuk Timuri.) The Ordinances run as follows: "It has been usual in former tunes to spill Muhammadan blood on trivia] occasions and,SmallBmall crimes, to mutilate and torture by cutting off the hands and feet; by pulverising the bones of the living criminals with mallets; by burning the body with fire; by crucifixion and by nailing the hands and feet; by flaying alive; by the operation of hamstringing and by cutting human beings to pieces. God, in his infinite goodness, having been pleased to confer on me the power, has also inspired me with the disposition to put an end to these practices. It is my resolution, moreover, to restore in the daily prayers offered up for the royal family the names of all those princes, my predecessors, who have reigned over the empire of Delhi, in hopes thai these prayers being acceptable to God may in some measure appease his wrath and ensure his mercy towards them. It is also hereby proclaimed that the small and vexatious taxes, under the denomination of Kotwalli. &.c. payable to the public servants of the government as perquisites of office by small traders: that licenses for the right of pasturage from shepherds, on waste lands belonging to the crown; fees from flower sellers, fishsellers, cotton cleaners, silk sellers and cooks; and the precarious and fluctuating taxes on shopkeepers and vintners, shall henceforward cease throughout the realm: for it is better to relinquish this portion of the revenue than realise it at the expense of so much distress, occasioned by the discretionary power necessarily vested in tax gatherers and officers of authority: nor will any tax hereafter be levied contrary to the written law of the hook. It has been customary to set aside one-fifth of all property taken in war for the troops; and to reserve four-fifths to the government. It is hereby ordered that in future four-fifths shall he distributed to the troops, and one-fifth only reserved for the crown. I will on all occasions cause to be banished from the realm persons convicted of the following crimes:—Those who profess atheism, or who maintain schools of vice. All public servants convicted of corruption, as well as persons paying bribes. I have myself abstained from wearing gaudy silk apparel and jewels, as an example to my subjects. I have considered it my duty to repair every public edifice of utility constructed by my predecessors, such as caravanserais, masjids, wells, reservoirs of water, aqueducts, canals, hospitals, almshouses and schools: and have alienated considerable portions of the revenue for their support. I have also taken pains to discover the surviving relations of all persons who suffered from the wrath of my lord and master, Muhammad Tiigluck, and having pensioned and provided for them, have caused them to grant their full pardon and forgiveness to that prince in the presence of the holy and learned men of this age, whose signatures and seals as witnesses are affixed to the documents, the whole of which, as far as lay in my power, have been procured and put into a box and deposited in the vault in which Muhammad Tugluck is entombed. I have gone and sought consolation from all the most learned and holy men within my realm and have taken care of them. Whenever my soldiers have been rendered inefficient for service by wounds or by age, I have caused them to be pensioned on full pay for life. Two attempts have been made to poison me but without effect."5

  • 1. Translated in Elliot's "Historians," iii. 3S2.
  • 2. Futuhat-i-Firuz Shahi. Translation in Elliot's "Historians," iii. 3S2.
  • 3. The assessment of ten per cent, on the total outlay or the cost price of the canals, as a rent charge for the use of the irrigation water by the agriculturists. Elliot's "Historians," vol. iii. p. 301.
  • 4. Asar-ud-sunadid.
  • 5. Brisrssio's "Muhammadan Power in India,'' ' i. 464.