Shams-ud-Din's Gateway and Tomb. Interior of the Tomb [Iltutmish's Tomb, Qutb].
Shams-ud-Din's Gateway and Tomb. Interior of the Tomb [Iltutmish's Tomb, Qutb].: Interior view showing decorative carving and niches in one wall. © British Library./ Charles Shepherd

THE interior of the tomb of the Emperor Shams-ud-din Altamsh consists of red sandstone and marble, and the sarcophagus in the centre of the square is of white marble. The wall to the west—which forms the subject of this Photographic illustration—is provided with niches, such as usually occur in a mosque, and the carved marble and stonework of these features show signs of having been coloured in o-reen and purple. The lower portion of the three walls to the north, south, and east is now plain, but on that to the south there are traces on a few plastered patches of coloured ornamental arabesques. It would thus appear that formerly the walls were covered with a species of cement, the surface of which was painted. Firuz Shah is reported to have placed a roof over the tomb. On page 89 there is a record of his having repaired and roofed the "Madrasah" of Shams-ud-din Altamsh, but I do not think this is identical with the tomb of the latter Emperor at the Kutb, and I know of no record stating that he repaired the latter building, or that it was ever used as a "Madrasah" or school before receiving the remains of Altamsh. The Kufic inscriptions are here curiously interwoven with a species of ribbon arabesque, — vide the band under the bell ornament about fifteen feet from the ground,—indeed the ingenuity of the decorations is throughout most admirable and full of beauty. Here, as in most buildings of the kind, the upper portion of the masonry walls assumes the shape of an octagon, and the corner niche converting the square base into an eight-sided wall is at once ingenious and an element of additional beauty to the whole design. It cannot, however, compare with the niche serving a similar purpose in the Gateway of Ala-ud-din (see Photograph XXI.) If the first principles of architectural construction and decoration be applied in judging the merits of this building, it would seem wrong that the pillars supporting the corners of the octagonal superstructure should be covered with a diaper ornament such as is suitable to flat wall surfaces, but which is inapplicable to structural features in which the idea of strength should not be diminished. It is, however, only after a minute inspection that the eye catches this slight deviation from first principles, and it is easy to make allowance for what, after all, does not detract from the general pleasing effect of the whole.