March 3, 2016

Alai Darwaza - Qutb Complex, Delhi

Site Name: Alai Darwaza
Site Type: Monument, Masjid
Location:  Qutb Minar Complex, Mehrauli, Delhi, India
Highlights: First building in India that follows the accurate construction as per the Islamic principles

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 an interesting and historically important monument called Alai Darwaza in this article.


The Slave Dynasty ruled Delhi till 1290 CE. Firuz Shah of the Khalji tribe captured the throne in 1290 CE and thus started the Khalji Dynasty's rule in Delhi. Alaud-Din of Khalji was the popular King in Khalji Dynasty. He laid the foundation of Siri, which was the second city of Delhi. 

He was one of the most cruel kings of India. Had he suspected anyone as a threat to his powers, he did not hesitate to kill them along with their entire family members including women and children. It is said that he had once slaughtered around 30,000 people in a single day in Delhi. To retain power, he had even killed his own family members. 

Alaud-Din Khalji's desires had no limit. He conquered most parts of India. He killed millions of innocent people and his soldiers. He did not stop with that. He wanted to construct a new Minar double the size of Qutb Minar, but he failed. In addition, he also wanted to build a madrasa (Islamic religious school) next to Quwwat mosque, which is in ruins today. He also wanted to expand the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Unfortunately, the extensions that he made to the mosque are lost now. He intended to give four gateways to the mosque. However, he could build only one gateway, which is Alai Darwaza.  

Alai Darwaza

The southern gateway of the Quwwatul-Islam mosque is called as Alai Darwaza. It was built in 1311 CE by Alauddin Khalji. It is said that Khalji brought artists from Turkey to construct this structure. It is considered as the prestige symbol of the mosque and even for the entire Qutb Minar complex.

Alai Darwaza is actually a small square room than a gateway. Noteworthy for its beautiful architecture, it is the first building that completely follows the Islamic principles of accurate symmetrical construction and geometric ornamentation. It is situated on a high plinth. It is pierced by arched doorways on all its four sides. The northern arch which faces the mosque is semi circular, while the other arches are horse shoe shaped. 

The exceptionally symmetrical structure is built of red sandstone. It is surmounted by a wide but shallow dome on an octagonal base. The lotus bud design is carved in all the four sides below the arches as well as in the side windows. 

The geometrical carvings on the interior, the decorative details in red stone and the excellent proportions of the entire structure makes it as one of the gems of Islamic architecture.

Happy travelling.

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