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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/352

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CITIES

the south of Safdar Tang's tomb the entrance to the Kutb Minar enclosure is reached. The great Kuwwat ul Islam mosque of Kutbuddin Aibak (page 204) was constructed out of the materials of a Jain temple which stood on the site. Evidence of this is to be found in the imperfectly defaced sculptures on the pillars. An iron pillar nearly 24 feet in height dating back probably to the sixth century stands in the court. The splendid column known as the Kutb Minar (page 205), begun by Kutbuddin and completed by his successor Shams ud din Altamsh, was the minaret of the mosque from which the mu'azzin called the faithful to prayer. The disappointment that may be felt when it is seen from a distance is impossible on a nearer view. Its height is now 238 feet, but it was formerly surmounted "by a majestic cupola of red granite." Close by is the Alai Darwaza, a magnificent gateway built by Ala ud din Tughlak in 13 10, about 90 years after the Minar was finished. Five miles east of the Kutb are the cyclopean ruins of Tughlakabad (page 206).

Delhi past and present.— The Delhi of Aurangzeb was as much a camp as a city. When the Emperor moved to Agra or Kashmir the town was emptied of a large part of its inhabitants. It contained one or two fine bazars, and nobles and rich merchants and shopkeepers had good houses, set sometimes in pleasant gardens. But the crowds of servants and followers occupied mud huts, whose thatched roofs led to frequent and widespread fires. In that insanitary age these may have been blessings in disguise. "In Delhi," wrote Bernier, "there is no middle state. A man must either be of the highest rank or live miserably.... For two or three who wear decent apparel there may always be reckoned seven or eight poor, ragged, and miserable beings." The ordinary street architecture of modern Delhi is mean enough, and