February 28, 2016

Iltutmish's Tomb - Qutb Complex, Delhi

Site Name: Iltutmish's Tomb
Site Type: Monument
Location:  Qutb Minar Complex, Mehrauli, Delhi, India
Highlights: One of the earliest tombs in India; the beginning of constructions by Muslims without using the materials from the Hindu or Jain temples

Nearest Railway Station: Delhi
Nearest Airport: Delhi
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Delhi city
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the city

Delhi, the capital city of India, is famous for monuments. It has around 1300 monuments. Qutb Minar is one of the most popular monuments in Delhi. In Qutb Minar complex, apart from Qutb Minar, there are so many other monuments also located. Let us discuss about a very important site named Iltutmish's tomb, situated within the complex of Qutb Minar, in this article.


Prithviraj Chauhan III, who was also called as Rai Pithora, extended the Lal Kot by constructing another fort and named it as Qila Rai Pithora, and was ruling Delhi. Muhammad bin Sam of Ghur invaded Qila Rai Pithora twice. In his second attempt, he defeated Prithviraj and captured Qila. His slave Qutbud-Din Aibak was made as the Viceroy of Delhi. He enthroned himself as the Sultan of Delhi in 1206 CE and thus started the rule of slave dynasty in Delhi. 

Qutbud-Din's son-in-law Shamsud-Din-Iltutmish succeeded him as the ruler of Delhi in 1211 CE. Iltutmish made significant additions to both the Qutb Minar and Quwwat mosque, which were started by his predecessor Qutbud-Din. Later, he built the tomb for his eldest son Nasirud-Din, who died in 1228 or 1229 CE. It is called as Sultan Ghari's tomb and was built in 1231 CE. It is the earliest existing monumental Muslim tomb. (There are some pre-Sultanate tombs found in Kutch area in Gujarat which were constructed with the materials from the demolished Hindu temples). In 1235 CE, he built his own tomb.

Iltutmish's Tomb

Iltutmish's tomb is located to the north-west of theh Quwwatul-Islam mosque in the Qutb complex. It was built by Iltutmish himself in 1235 CE. It is an important monument in terms of development phase of Indo-Islamic architecture. Till then, even including the tomb of Iltutmish's son which was built by him few years ago, all the tombs were built using the materials from the demolished Hindu temples or Jain shrines. Iltutmish's tomb was built from the materials sourced entirely from the quarries. Thus, Iltutmish made contributions in terms of building one of the earliest tombs as well as in constructing a tomb without using the materials from the temples.

The tomb located within a square enclosure look simple from outside, but its interior is intricately carved with geometrical patterns and intricate caligraphy. Originally, the structure had a dome. It fell down and Firuz Shah Tughlaq replaced with a new dome. Even that does not exist today and the structure has open space as the roof.

The cenotoph of  Iltutmish is made of marble. It rests on a raised platform. The actual remains of Iltutmish is located in the underground chambers. Only the cenotoph is exposed outside. 

The interior on the west is occupied by three mihrabs, whereas there are three entrances in the other three directions. (The niche in the wall of a mosque is called as mihrab). The central mihrab is higher and is made of marble, while the other two mihrabs made of red sandstone are pieced by arched entrances. 

The entrances and the interiors are carved with inscriptions in Kufi and Naskh characters as well as geometrical patterns. As the Indian artisans were involved in building this structure, some Hindu traditional designs such as diamond, wheel and lotus are also found. 

It is said that the domes were not known to the Indian architects. In this tomb, the small arches were added on the chamber's upper corners in order to convert the square chamber into an octagonal one towards its roof so that the dome could be placed on top.  

Happy travelling.

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