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The Architecture of Ancient Delhi: Especially the Buildings Around the Kutb Minar

Henry Hardy Cole (Author)

The Qutb (also spelled as Qutub, Qutab or Kutb) complex is an array of monuments at Mehrauli in Delhi. The construction of Qutb Minar was intended as a Victory Tower, to celebrate the victory of Mohammed Ghori over Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan, in ad 1192, by his then viceroy, Qutb-ud-din Aibak after destroying 27 Hindu and Jain Temples and reusing their building material for construction. After the death of Aibak, the Minar was added upon by his successor Iltutmish (or Altamash) and much later by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the sultan of Delhi in ad 1368. The complex was added on by many subsequent rulers, including Ala-ud-din Khilji as well as the British. The monuments in the complex include the Qutb Minar, the Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar, the Iron Pillar, and the tombs of Iltutmish, Alaudding Khilji and Imam Zamin. In this volume, Major Henry Hardy Cole (Superintendent in the Archaeological Survey of India who was later appointed as Curator of Ancient Monuments in 1881) has made a careful investigation of the architectural heritage in the vicinity of Qutb. Cole also had the foresight to arrange for the creation of the photographic record of the most important monuments of the complex. The volume thus contains some of the best photographs of the architecture of the Qutb taken in the 19th century by the noted photographer of colonial India Mr. Charles Shepherd (of the firm Shepherd and Bourne). The present volume, first published in 1872, has long been out-of-print and is being re-issued for the use of historians, conservators, tourists, archaeologists and also lay-readers. A fresh Introductory Note has been added which further enhances the value of the volume. The work is of outstanding value not withstanding the change in perception due to new material and research.

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About the author

Henry Hardy Cole

Among those who contributed in the early years in efforts to preserve India’s monumental heritage, the name of Major Henry Hardy Cole (1843-1916) stands out prominently for the ten folio volumes which appeared under the title Preservation of National Monuments of India published between 1881 and 1885. Appointed as the Curator of Ancient Monuments for a period of three years in 1881, H.H. Cole was asked to work out programme of conservation and to prepare a classified list of monuments of each province in British India indicating whether they were worthy “to be kept in permanent good repair, or were decayed beyond that point but not in complete ruin, or were unimportant or irretrievably ruined.” During this tenure, he produced three reports formulating programme of conservation for the future. Writing in 1939, Sir John Marshall mentioned about Cole’s contribution as a Curator during the course of which “apart from the actual repairs that he carried out, they may be said to have laid the foundation…. of an organized scheme of permanent conservation.” Cole also prepared twenty-two preliminary reports on certain groups of monuments in the then Bombay and Madras Presidencies, Rajputana, Hyderabad and the Punjab (in which was included the North-West Frontier). These were accompanied by illustrations and brief explanatory notes on the most famous monuments and antiquities assigned to him. Besides these Reports, Major Cole also personally supervised the repair of several of these buildings. In fact, Sir John Marshall acknowledged that “up to 1902 his reports remained the sole works of permanent value relating to conservation, as distinct from research, among the whole bibliography representing forty years of archaeological activity in India.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Architecture of Ancient Delhi: Especially the Buildings Around the Kutb Minar
Format Hardcover
Date published: 13.09.2015
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173055386
length xii+152p., Halftone Illustrations 26; Maps 2; 22cm x 28cm.