Tower Qutb Minar and Qutb complex, Delhi, India
Stefano Paterna/age fotostock
Delhi’s Qutub Minar, at 72.5 meters or 238 feet tall, is the tallest tower in India. Built as an Islamic monument in the early 13th century of red sandstone and marble, the minar is not without controversy. Some believe the tower was built to celebrate Muslim rule in the country, and others claim it was erected to call the devoted to prayer. The surrounding complex houses the first mosque to be built in India, tombs, a madrassa, and an iron pillar that is mysteriously resistant to corrosion, even after being exposed to the natural elements for centuries. Until 1981, visitors were able to climb the 379 stairs to the top of Qutub Minar, but the interior is now closed.
The Qutab Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as Qutub complex. Within the Qutab complex, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands one of the legendary Ashoka Pillars. This large iron pillar has withstood the ravages of Delhi’s weather (and recent pollution) and has not rusted in over 1500 years.