Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qutub Minar
You’ll find the stunning minaret of Qutub Minar in Mehrauli, just south of the centre of Delhi. It’s a striking tower and is in fact, the largest brick-built tower in the world. Qutub Minar was built in the early 13th century at the request of Qutab-Ud-Din-Aibak, the first Islamic ruler of India. Although the tower is the main attraction, it is actually set within an impressive park area which includes a number of other interesting buildings. Here you’ll find a mosque and several tombs as well as the tower.
Getting to Qutub Minar
If you’re keen to use public transport to get to Qutub Minar then be prepared for a walk. You can take the yellow metro line to Qutub Minar station and then it’s about 20 minutes walk to the park. If you’re pretty fit and enjoy walking then that’s perfectly manageable in the cooler months. However, it will feel much further on hot summer days. Instead, I’d recommend hopping in an auto rickshaw or grabbing a taxi to make the trip from the station. You’ll pay about 50 rupees for an auto-rickshaw which is only around 10p. Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of auto-rickshaws and taxis at the station and if you start walking and find it too much then you’ll see plenty along the route as well.
When you arrive at the site, look for the ticket kiosks which are near the car park and just across the road from the main site. You’ll probably see large queues waiting to buy tickets and you can avoid this by booking tickets online in advance. Don’t despair if you didn’t plan ahead though as there is a separate queue for foreigners. This is because they pay higher prices and it makes the transactions simpler to put them all in one queue. For us foreigners, the increased fee also means less waiting so there are benefits. In fact, we chatted to some Indians who prefer to pay the higher price for this reason.
Tickets cost 600 Rupees per person (just over £6) and you get a 50 Rupee discount if you pay by credit card. This is because they’re encouraging people to pay by card in a bid to go cashless in the future. A bonus for those visiting with children, under 15s are free. Once you pay your money you get one of these round, blue tokens. Keep it safe, it’s your ticket to get in.
If you need to leave your bags while you tour the site, there is baggage storage near the ticket booth. No food is allowed inside so store any lunch items as well. However, you can take a bottle of water in with you. You’ll also find public toilets here if you need them although there are cleaner ones inside the park.
Viewing Qutub Minar
Once you enter the park, you’ll want to get a close-up view of the minaret. If you think it’s impressive from a distance, wait until you get closer. The intricate patterns on the tower are beautiful and add to its impact. Look closely and you may recognise inscriptions from the Quran. Sadly, it is no longer possible to climb the tower so we must all admire it from the ground.
What else is there to see here?
The tower of Qutub Minar is part of a larger complex, the Qutub Minar Complex and you’ll find several other interesting sights to see here. Firstly. look to the foot of the tower for the entrance to Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque. The name means ‘Might of Islam’. Unfortunately, much of it is now in ruin but you can get an idea of how striking it was from the entrance, Alai Darwaza, shown in the photo above.
Alai Minar of Khalji
In the photo below, you can see another tower. This is Alai Minar of Khalji, a tower which was designed to be bigger and more impressive than the Qutab Minar. However, this tower was never completed. What you see today is the lower core of the tower which was abandoned before reaching its full height. You get a different perspective on tower construction of the era here.
Ala-ud-din Khilji’s tomb and madrasa
Walk to the far edge of Qutub Minar Complex and you’ll find the tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji. It stands alongside the madrasa, an educational facility that he built during his lifetime. This was the architect who designed the unfinished Alai Minar tower.
There are a number of tombs in the complex. In addition to the Tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji, you’ll find the Tomb of Iltutmish and the Tomb of Imam Zamin. Each is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings.
Expect to spend at least 2 hours exploring the complex. There’s so much to see and it’s a really well-kept and pleasant place to spend time wandering. If you’re keen to see more of this area of Delhi then head over to the Mehrauli Archaeological Park which is close by. It has palaces, mosques and tombs to explore as well as step well. It’s open from sunrise to sunset and entry is absolutely free.