It was a lovely morning when the students and teachers of Delhi Public School, Gurgaon joined us at the Qutb complex for a heritage walk. They were students of humanities from class 11 and 12 accompanied by their Principal, Ms Aditi Misra and two senior teachers, Ms Lisa and Ms Sapna Dhawan. There was slight drizzle and breeze which made it fun to walk around the monuments. There were 4 of us from Delhi Heritage Walks: Chhavi, Divya, Kanika and Vijaya to interact with the students.
The Qutb Minar needs little introduction, so we tried to discuss the lesser known details about the complex. What is today the entrance to the site is actually part of a serai dating to the late-Mughal time. Our first stop was the Quwwat ul Islam mosque, built from material taken from temples. Some of the students had visited an active mosque earlier, so they were familiar with Islamic religious practices; others were quick to note how the sculptures were disfigured. The Iron pillar in the courtyard of the mosque is a favourite with all visitors. Now it is surrounded by metal grills but earlier one could stand with one’s back to the pillar and try to put one’s arms around it. It is popularly believed that those who can make their hands touch will have their wish fulfilled! Next was the prayer screen and Iltutmish’s tomb. A tehkhana is always a source mysterious and the one which is inaccessible, even more so. J. All of us wanted to get down to the basement in Iltutmish’s tomb and check out the actual grave! We sauntered around Alauddin’s madrasa and tomb, finally approaching the Qutb Minar. No visit to the Qutb Minar or the Taj Mahal is complete without getting one’s photograph with the monument hanging from our fingertips. And sure enough, some of us were bending all angles trying to get that perfect shot! A couple of students narrated their previous visits to this place and the stories they heard from guides. There was never a dull moment in the walk: we talked about Hindu princesses worshiping the sun from the Qutb, the British and their follies…there was no end to our anecdotes. The Alai Darwaza was admired by all and Smith’s folly was greeted with great amusement. They all shared their ideas, some profound others not quite so, but the best part was that they were deeply interested and keen to share their thoughts. Sometimes they answered each other’s questions.
The volley of ideas and questions did not stop till we were out of the complex and they were back in their school bus. The enthusiasm of the students, with a little help from Delhi’s monsoon, made this heritage walk a great fun!
(posted by Rajesh Ranjan, team member, Delhi Heritage Walks)