Qutb Minar Complex and its Surroundings

Probably the oldest continuously inhabited area in Delhi, the area around the Qutb Complex, commonly known as Mehrauli is the site of Delhi’s oldest fortified city, Lal Kot, founded by the Tomar Rajputs in ad 1060. The only remnants of this period are the fort walls and the Iron Pillar, which may have been moved here by the Tomar kings. The Chauhan Dynasty replaced the Tomars as the rulers of Delhi in the mid twelfth century. The last ruler of this dynasty, Prithviraj Chauhan, enlarged the fortress of Lal Kot to form Qila Rai Pithora. The much lower fortification of Qila Rai Pithora had a circumference of about 8 km and twenty-eight gates. Today, only three gates and part of the wall remain of the original fort. It is believed that the most impressive buildings of this period were twenty-seven Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples, at the site where the Qutb Minar stands today. The Turks invaded the city of Lal Kot in ad 1192, and these temples were destroyed as an act of war, and their pillars used to build Delhi’s first mosque, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque (1192). This structure is a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art and one of the oldest mosques in India. Its oldest portions were built using pillars from temples built by the Rajputs, but it underwent two phases of further expansion, in the 1230s and 1300s. Probably the most significant building of early Turk rule (called the Delhi Sultanate) is the Qutb Minar (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) built in the early part of the thirteenth century, by the emperors Qutbuddin Aibak and Iltutmish as a symbol of victory. Damage to the Qutb Minar was repaired by many sultans during subsequent periods of history, the last of these major repairs were carried out by the British who added to the tower in the 1820s, a cupola and sandstone railings on the balconies.

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