December 3, 2014

1352 INDIA (National Capital Territory of Delhi) - Qutb Minar and its Monuments (UNESCO WHS)

Located in the middle of the eastern part of Lalkot, the first of the seven cities of Delhi, established in 1060, the tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5m high, tapering from 2.75m in diameter at its peak to 14.32m at its base, and alternating angular and rounded flutings, covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. Construction was started in 1192 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, was carried on by his successor, Iltutmish (1211-1236), being enlarged by Alauld-Din Khalji (1296-1316). In 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlaq constructed the fifth and the last storey. Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in different sections reveal the history of its construction. The minar has been damaged by earthquakes and lightning strikes on several occasions but has been repaired and renovated by various rulers. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art (built in 1311), and two mosques, including the Quwwatu'l-Islam (at the foot of the tower), the oldest in India, built of materials reused from some 20 Brahman temples.

Each storey of the tower is separated from the next by highly decorated balconies, with pendentives and inscribed bands, carried on Muqarnas corbels. The whole structure was originally surmounted by a cupola, which fell during an earthquake and was replaced by a new cupola in late Mughal style in the early 19th century. This was so incongruous that it was removed in 1848 and now stands on the lawns to the south-east of the minaret. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. It tilts just over 60cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits, although experts have stated that monitoring is needed in case rainwater seepage further weakens the foundation.

Nearby the tower is a 7m high Iron Pillar, 0.93 m of which is below ground, a metallurgical curiosity, brought from elsewhere in India. It bears a Sanskrit inscription from the 4th century AD describing the exploits of a ruler named Chandra, believed to be the Gupta King Chandragupta II (375-413). It is built up of many hundreds of small wrought-iron blooms welded together and is the largest known composite iron object from so early a period. The remarkable lack of corrosion is attributable to the combination of several factors, among them the high corrosion-resistance of wrought iron, the climatic conditions in Delhi, and the likelihood that it was frequently anointed with ghee (melted butter). Of the other monuments, the Tomb of Iltutmish was built in 1235 by the ruler himself and Alai Darwaja was built in 1311 by Alauld-Din Khalji, who also began the construction of the Alai Minar.

About the stamps
The stamps are part of the series Indian Air Force Platinum Jubilee 1932-2007, about which I wrote here.

Qutb Minar - Wikipedia
Qutb Minar and its Monuments - UNESCO official website
Qutub Minar - Official website

Sender: Kamran
Sent from ??? (??? / India), on 07.10.2014

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