The Qutub Minar, also spelled as Qutb Minar, is a minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India. Qutb Minar is a 73-metre tall tapering tower of five storeys, with a 14.3 metres base diameter, reducing to 2.7 metres at the top of the peak.
It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. Its design is thought to have been based on the Minaret of Jam, in westernAfghanistan.
Qutb ud Din Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultante, started construction of the Qutb Minar’s first storey around 1192. In 1220, Aibak’s successor and son-in-law Shamsuddin Iltutmish completed a further three storeys. In 1369, a lightning strike destroyed the top storey. Firoz Shah Tughlaq replaced the damaged storey, and added one more. Sher Shah Suri also added an entrance to this tower while he was ruling and Humayun was in exile.
The Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments of the Qutb complex, including Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque was built at the same time as the Minar, and the much older Iron Pillar of Delhi. The nearby pillared cupola known as “Smith’s Folly” is a remnant of the tower’s 19th century restoration, which included an ill-advised attempt to add some more stories.
The Iron pillar of Delhi is 23 feet 8 inches high (7.2 metres) with 16 inches diameter structure, was constructed by a “King Chandra”, probably Chandragupta II, and is currently standing in the Qutb complex. It is famous for the rust-resistant composition of the metals used in its construction.
The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists and materials scientists because of its high resistance to corrosion and has been called a “testimony to the high level of skill achieved by the ancient Indian iron smiths in the extraction and processing of iron”. The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron(III), hydrogen phosphate hydrate forming on the high-phosphorus-content iron, which serves to protect it from the effects of the Delhi climate.
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