Apr 17, 2009

Ruins near the Kootub Delhi - 1858

Photograph of the Qutb Minar at Delhi, taken by Robert and Harriet Tytler in 1858.

This is a general view from the east looking towards the tower and surrounding tombs, the area much overgrown. The dome of the Alai Darwaza is at the left, and a small pavilion, a late addition that for a time stood at the top of the tower, at the right. Adham Khan's Tomb can be seen in the distance to the left of the Qutb.

The Qutb Minar, a tower of victory, was begun by Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi and founder of the Mamluk or Slave Dynasty, and completed by Iltutmish (r.1211-1236). It is 72.5 m high, and rises in five tapering fluted storeys interrupted by projecting balconies decorated with inscriptions. The lower storeys are of red sandstone and the two highest storeys are of white marble. They were rebuilt by Firuz Shah Tughluq (r.1351-1388) in 1368 when a cupola was added, later destroyed by an earthquake.

Tytler and his wife Harriet took some 500 large-format calotype negatives of scenes associated with the Uprising. Robert Tytler was present when the corps of the military regiment with whom he served mutinied in Delhi in May 1857, but managed to escape to Karnal and from there to Ambala. He was placed in charge of the Military Chest in the force which was sent to re-take Delhi, and played a conspicuous part in the siege of Delhi. Harriet Tytler was one of the few women present during the siege, during which time she gave birth to a son at the height of the hot weather of 1857.