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THE QUWWAT-UL-ISLAM MOSQUE

Qubbat-ul-Islam mosque
(Might of Islam) (also known
as the Qutb Mosque or the
Great Mosque of Delhi) was
built by Qutb-ud-din Aybak,
founder of the Mamluk or
Slave dynasty. It was the first
mosque built in Delhi after
the Islamic conquest of India and the oldest surviving example of Ghurids
architecture in Indian subcontinent. The construction of this Jami Masjid (Friday
Mosque), started in the year 1193 AD, when Aibak was the commander of
Muhammad Ghori's garrison that occupied Delhi. The Qutub Minar was built
simultaneously with the mosque but appears to be a stand alone structure, built as
the 'Minar of Jami Masjid', for the muezzin to perform adhan, call for prayer, and
also as a qutb, an Axis or Pole of Islam. It is reminiscent in style and design of the
Arhai-din-ka Jhompra or Ajmer mosque at Ajmer, Rajasthan, also built by Aibak
during the same time, also constructed by demolishing earlier temples and a
Sanskrit school, at the site.
According to a Persian inscription still on the inner eastern gateway, the mosque
was built by the parts taken by destruction of twenty-seven Jain temples built
previously during Tomars and Prithvi Raj Chauhan, and leaving certain parts of the
temple outside the mosque proper. Historical records compiled by Muslim historian
Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the iconoclasm of Qutb-ud-din Aybak.
This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign, although an argument
Goes that such iconoclasm was motivated more by politics than by religion. The
Source: Picasa
mosque is built on a raised

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and paved courtyard, measuring 141 ft. X 105 ft, surrounded by pillared cloisters
added by Iltutmish between 1210 and 1220 AD. The stone screen between prayer
hall and the courtyard, stood 16 mt at its highest was added in 1196 CE, the
corbelled arches had Arabic inscriptions and motifs. Entrances to the courtyard,
also uses ornate mandap dome from temples, whose pillars are used extensively
throughout the edifice, and in the sanctuary beyond the tall arched screens. What
survives today of the sanctuary on the western side are the arched screens in
between, which once led to a series of aisles with low-domed ceilings for
worshippers. Expansion of the mosque continued after the death of Qutb.
Qutbuddin's successor Iltutmish, extended the original prayer hall screen by three
more arches. By the time of Iltutmish, the Mamluk empire had stabilized enough
that the Sultan could replace most of his conscripted Hindu masons with Muslims.
This explains why the arches added under Iltutmish are stylistically more Islamic
than the ones erected under Qutb's rule, also because the material used wasn't
from demolished temples. Some additions to the mosque were also done by
Alauddin Khilji, including the Alai Darwaza, the formal entrance to the mosque in
red sandstone and white marble, and a court to the east of the mosque in 1300
AD.
The mosque is in ruins today but indigenous corbelled arches, floral motifs, and
geometric patterns can be seen among the Islamic architectural structures. To the
west of the Quwwat ul-Islam mosque is the tomb of Iltutmish which was built by
the monarch in 1235.

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CLOISTERS
Cloisters were three aisles deep.
Composed of pillars from Hindu temples, placed one above the other to achieve the
desired height
SANCTUARY
The western part of the cloister was the sanctuary.
The arrangement of the pillars was made more spacious and resolved into a series
of bays with shallow domed roofs.
COURTYARD
The courtyard is 105' X 141', surrounded by cloisters.
In the front of the centre of the sanctuary stands the iron pillar with the Garuda
motif removed from its pinnacle.
SCREEN (MAQSURA)
In 1199, a screen of an arched facade was added across the front of the sanctuary.
The screen is a wall of masonry 50' high at the centre, 108' wide and 81/2' thick.
The screen is pierced by 5 arches, the central arch 45' high and 22' in span and
two smaller ones on each side, each 25' high.
Each smaller arch had a clerestory above it, mainly for decorative purposes as it
did not serve in any way the sanctuary behind it.
The facade is embroidered with carvings of floral devices and Quranic verses.
The arches are not true arches but built by corbelling, hence we know they were
built by local workmen acting on verbal instructions from a Muslim clerk of works.
The ogee shape of the arch may be derived from the Buddhist caves of the Barahar
hills of Bihar and the Stupas of Sarnath.
THE QUTUB MINAR
Qutb Minar is the tallest minar (73
metres) in India originally an ancient
Islamic Monument, inscribed with Arabic
inscriptions, and is a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. The Qutb Minar is made of
red sandstone and marble. The stairs of
the tower has 379 steps, is 72.5 metres
(237.8 ft) high, and has a base diameter
of 14.3 metres, which narrows to 2.7
metres at the top. Construction was
started in 1192 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak and
was carried on by his successor, Iltutmish.
In 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.
STOREYS
Each storey has a different pattern in plan, the first storey, alternate wedge shaped
and round projections, second storey- Circular projections, third storey- Star
shaped, fourth storey- Round.

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BALCONIES
Each storey has a balcony around it. The balustrade around the balcony originally
showed merlons called kanjuras. The balconies are supported by stalactite vaulting,
represented by clusters of miniature arches with brackets in between, influenced by
the tracery of temple ceilings.

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The rise of Islamic rule is reflected interestingly through the exquisite engraving
from base to the topmost storey, with typical Islamic straight-lined, geometric
forms replacing undulating floral patterns seen in the lower floors. Subsequently,
the fourth floor was replaced and another floor was added by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in
AD 1368, faced in white marble and sandstone, lending a distinctive look and
demonstrating a tale of architectural developments from the Slave Dynasty to the
Tughlaq era. The Qutb Minar continues to be one of the most visited sites in Delhi,
by both local and foreign tourists, as well as historians and students of art and
architecture.



THE ILTUTMISHS TOMB

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The tomb of Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish (1211-36), son-in-law and successor of
Qutbu'd-Din Aibak, lies to the north-west of the Quwwatu'l-lslam mosque. It was
built in about 1235 by Iltutmish himself. It illustrates that phase in the
development of Indo-Islamic architecture when the builder had ceased to depend
for material on the demolition of temples, although the arches and semi-domes
below the squinches were still laid in the indigenous corbelled fashion. Its tomb-
chamber with a cenotaph in its centre, internally nearly 9 m sq. and faced with red
sandstone, was certainly intended to be covered with a dome, as is clear from the
squinches, which appear for the first time in this building. It is believed that the
original dome had fallen and was replaced by Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), but
even this did not survive. The interior on the west is occupied by three mihrabs,
the central one higher and ornamented with marble, to serve as a place for
prayers, while the other sides are pierced by arched entrances. The tomb is plain
on the outside, but is profusely carved on the entrances and in the interior with
inscriptions in Kufi and Naskh characters and geometrical and. arabesque patterns
in Saracenic tradition, although several motifs among its carvings are reminiscent
of Hindu decoration. To this class belong wheel, bell. And chain, tassel, lotus and
diamond. In view of its lavish ornamentation, Fergusson described it as one of the
richest examples of Hindu art applied to Muhammadan purposes.
The most interesting feature is the first appearance in India of the 'Squinch'. This
consists of projecting a small arch across the upper side of the corners of the
square room, turning it into an octagon, then repeating the process to turn it into a
16 sided base in which a dome can rest.

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