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  • Writer's pictureRai Bhattacharya

Two Must-See Monuments of Delhi

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

In December 2022, during the winter vacation, I went to Delhi to visit my mother, who was working in Gurgaon at the time. It was a great opportunity to visit the monuments of Delhi too!

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Delhi was the seat of power for many famous kingdoms and emperors, like the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, and the British; and at present it is the capital city of the Republic of India.


In this post, I will tell you about two monuments of Delhi that you must, must, must see: Qutb Complex and Humayun's Tomb.


Qutb (Qutub / Qutab) Complex:

Qutb Complex is the name assigned to the Qutb Minar and some adjoining monuments.


We started early that morning and took the yellow metro line to the Qutb Minar metro station. The monuments are about 2 kilometres from the station. Our tickets were already booked online through the Archaeological Survey of India website. Indians and SAARC citizens over 15 pay Rs 50 per head, and foreign nationals pay Rs. 600. Online tickets are slightly cheaper – Rs. 35 and 550, respectively. There are separate lines for Indians and foreign tourists to enter the complex.


As you step inside, you see the 72.5-metre Qutb Minar, one of the first marvels of Indo-Islamic architecture in India. Adjacent to the Qutb Minar is the Quwat-Ul-Islam Mosque, one of the first mosques in India built on a grand scale. It was built by Qutbuddin Aibak, the founder of Islamic rule in India, in 1206-1210 CE. It is recorded at the eastern entrance of the mosque that the building materials were obtained from 27 demolished temples. The extension of the mosque was built by Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316 CE), the second ruler of the Delhi Sultanate’s second dynasty. The famous Alai Darwaza (meaning gateway - picture below), a marvel in red sandstone with reliefs of marble, was part of the extension.

Just to the right of the Qutb Minar stands the famous Iron Pillar, believed to have been built during the Gupta Period (the 4th century) and to once carry a sculpture of Garuda, the eagle-like mount of the Hindu god Vishnu, at the top. The pillar, which has not deteriorated much during its 1,600 years of existence, shows the metallurgical skill of the ancient Indians.

The Tomb of Iltutmish (1211-1236 CE), Qutbuddin Aibak’s son-in-law and successor, lies straight ahead of the Qutb Minar. The tomb is exquisitely carved, but the dome is non-existent! It collapsed as the Hindu masons had still not mastered the craft of building a dome.


To the tomb’s right lies Alauddin’s Madrasa, which is now in a dilapidated condition. On its south is another structure with a fallen dome. This is believed to be the Tomb of Alauddin Khilji.


If you would like to know more about this complex, read the book Qutb Minar & Adjoining Monuments World Heritage Series by the Archaeological Survey Of India. That's what we did! We referred to the book a lot during our visit too. You can also book a guided tour. There are companies like Delhi Heritage Walks that offer tours for Rs. 600, or just buy an audio tour via HopOn India for Rs. 299. But I don't know how good they are.


Humayun’s Tomb

To reach Huamyun’s Tomb by public transport, you’ll need to catch the yellow or violet line metro. It took us some time to reach there by metro since it is situated in central Delhi.


The entry fee is the same as the Qutb Minar.

On entering the monument, we immediately saw Isa Khan’s Tomb and Mosque. The tomb was unlike any other I had seen. I was sad that most of the decorations in the tomb had deteriorated due to lack of restoration, but what remained was marvellous. The whole place was very peaceful. We sat there for some time and then proceeded towards the main tomb.


Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor after Babur. He lost his kingdom in 1540 CE to Sher Shah Suri. When he regained his kingdom after 15 years, he could not enjoy it for long as he died a year later after falling off the steps of the library in Purana Quila. He was buried here in 1569. I was mesmerised by the combination of red sandstone and marble of Huamyun's Tomb. Unlike the Taj Mahal, which only contains the tomb of Shah Jahan and his wife, Humayun’s tomb is the resting place of Humayun’s wives and some later kings of the Mughal dynasty. This whole complex was very peaceful and serene, unlike some other monuments where you constantly have people pushing you or the tourist guides continuously pestering. The tomb was the first Mughal mausoleum of its kind.



We then went around the garden surrounding the tomb. There were some other monuments to explore too, such as Barber’s Tomb, Hammam and Baradari. At the farthest end lies the recently restored Nila Gumbad. There is debate as to who built this monument and for what purpose. Inside, there were beautiful marble-cut screens, a prominent feature of Indo-Islamic architecture.


Audio tours are available for this complex as well via HopOn India.



We left the complex with a heavy heart, saddened by the neglected state of the smaller and less significant monuments.


Things to keep in mind while visiting historical monuments in India:

  1. In most monuments, no food is allowed inside. Even lip balm or lipstick might be prohibited. Water is okay.

  2. Make sure your tour guide has a licence. As you enter the complex, you will most likely be surrounded by tour guides! Be careful!

  3. If you are travelling with elderly people, book a wheelchair service. It is expensive though - about Rs. 1200-1300.


About the Author


Rai is a high school student, a dancer and a painter, and has a keen interest in history. She lives in India with her parents.


The photos were taken by Debjani, Rai's mother.

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3 Comments


Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
May 12, 2023

Very interesting Tora... looking forward to see more from

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Vahista Dastoor
Vahista Dastoor
May 12, 2023

I loved this Tora.

Looking forward to more such stories ❤️

Vahista

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Payel De Sarkar
Payel De Sarkar
May 12, 2023

Well researched and full of information. I was actually revisiting the sites by your words and living the memories again.

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