In addition to seeing the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid we also stopped by the 13th century Qutb Minar complex of buildings. This red sandstone minaret rises approximately 238 feet and was once used as a clock tower. Before a fatal accident in 1981 you could climb the stairs to the top but now you just wander around the remains of the other buildings in the complex and admire the tower.
The intricate carvings of verses from the Qur’an at various levels on the minaret are beautiful. Since it is forbidden to depict Allah or Mohammed in figurative form Islamic art consists of intricate decorative patterns on tiles, carpets, screens, architecture, or the flourishes of Arabic characters. In November 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened their reorganized and renovated Islamic Art wing with the new name: Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. It’s a spectacular installation and deserves all the attention they’ve given it. Apparently a similar effort at the Louvre was not as successful according to the NY Times. It’s great stuff although I get a little tired of it after a while and long to see a person depicted. Guess it’s my Western eyes being use to that stuff.
There’s a 4th century iron column looted from elsewhere in India, possibly from the Gupta King, Chandra. You could touch that too until they realized people’s sweat and oils were eroding the surface along with the weather and possibly ghee (melted butter). It’s still impressive standing in the same courtyard as the Qutb Minar.