Being stuck in a traffic jam, frustrated over Delhi’s “sab kuch chalta hai” driving diktat, literally defines commuting on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road. But one left turn from the chaos, and you are facing the mighty Qutub Minar.
The minar and its surrounding complex very much characterise Delhi itself. Just like the city is a mosaic of people from all over India with different backgrounds, Qutub and its ruins are also a sort of culmination of the coming together of different religions, rulers and dynasties, each having added its own touch to the monument.
Qutub ud-din Aibak, one of the first Muslim rulers of Delhi, started constructing the minar in late 12th century on the remains of 27 Hindu and Jain temples. His untimely death lead to the contribution of later rulers such as Iltutmish and Firuz Shah Tuglaq in the completion of the three-storey tower. Also in the complex is the 1,600-year-old iron pillar, a world famous metallurgical mystery because of it ability to remain free from corrosion over the centuries.
The 72.5 meter high red stone Qutub is a popular stop for all tourists in Delhi — indeed, it is a vital slice of the Capital. The number of daily visitors is approximated at around 2,000 — a figure that doubles on winter weekends. A last stroll around Qutub testifies the fact; not only is the place flooded with foreigners, there are tourists from all over India too. Far from the maddening crowd, it is easy to see why this world heritage site is a popular excursion spot for people from near-by cities too. Even those in Delhi, for reasons other than sightseeing, take out time to visit Qutub.
Lovekesh Ralli, who came all the way from Amritsar to Delhi to attend a wedding, took time out from the ceremonies to venture to the Qutub complex with his family. “My children read about Qutub Minar in their school and insisted on coming here,” he says. “It turned out to be a nice family outing.”
The Qutub also continues to be a prime getaway for the average Dilliwaala.
One spots families, college students and school groups, lovey-dovey couples — the relics seem to have something to attract everyone. The fact that Bollywood continues to be drawn by Qutub (a recent film shot here was the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Cheeni Kum) has only increased its lure among the young adult crowd. “We came to see the iron pillar after watching Cheeni Kum,” say the Shrivastava sisters, who were visiting the complex for the first time despite being Delhiites.
It may not be among the seven wonders, but Qutub, with its might and grandeur, will always continue to add that unique touch to the city.