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Qutb Minar Complex, Delhi

It’s no surprise that this fine assortment of 14th century buildings is now India’s most visited tourist attraction. These days visitors are enchanted by the manner in which the Archaeology Survey of India and INTACH have not only set up the site as a protected zone but lovingly restored some of its most appealing constructions.

The main barbican, Alai Darwaza, is a stunning red sandstone structure remarkable also for its Turkish latticework, pillars and marble features. Its Islamic styles are thought to be the earliest example of that religion’s architectural influence in South Asia. The distinctive lotus bud fringes, Alai Darwaza acts as the perfect introduction to Quwwat-al-Islam Mosque, upon which work began in 1193 AD. By 1220, the mosque was complete with mandap domes, an elevated courtyard, Arabian motifs and corbelled arches. It was the inaugural Islamic holy site to be built in newly-conquered North India and its construction began when the great general Aibak was in charge of the army occupying Delhi.
Boasting the loftiest brick-built minaret on the planet, Qutb Minar is the outstanding draw of this very Indian complex. As soon as you see its ornate balconies, multilevel layout, fluted columns and reed-effect Islamic calligraphy, you’ll realise why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Part of the attraction of Qutb Minar is that it has been tastefully adapted and renovated through the ages, with one particularly impressive amendments made by the British when they installed a Bengali-style chhatri in 1802.
The Qutb Complex managed to survive a 2005 earthquake due to its rocky soil base and absorptive building materials – this makes it a true classic that was built to last! From November to December each year, a major arts festival takes place on the premises, drawing thousands of local and foreign visitors over just three days.

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