Yeh raah-e-khaak saari main sar se qata ki hai,I was fifteen years old when I first visited Qutub Minar as a tourist on a visit to the capital of India. Followed the ritual of buying a ticket of tourist bus whose route included the “hot” tourist spots India gate, Red fort, Birla temple, Lotus Temple et al, all that could be covered in one day. It was summer of May and the spots were really hot. The package also included a tourist guide who kept telling the foreign tourist― the only foreign tourist present in the bus, Arc de Triomphe of Paris is a copy of India gate. My father and an elder cousin brother, who had recently started working in Delhi, accompanied me on this tourist trip.
Naqsh-e-jabeen hai mere, har naqsh-e-paa jahaan hai,
Mat maut ki tamanna, ai Dard, har ghari kar,
Duniya ko dekh tu bhi, tu tau abhi jawam hai.
~Khwaja Mir Dard
I was excited about seeing the Iron Pillar and not the Qutub Minar. The reason for this being that I had recently read about Iron Pillar in an article that was published in Science Reporter, a one of its kind monthly science magazine published in India.
Among the information about the rust resistant Iron pillar, I read how the people who built the Minar, destroyed Hindu temples and tried to raise the pillar to ground by firing cannon balls at it, an act whose affect: a deep depression and a crack on the pillar’s surface, can still be seen on the pillar.
I did the strangest think when I found myself in front of the Iron pillar. I turned my back to the Minar and pointing to the pillar, I started talking loudly about the tormented “history of the pillar”. Soon I was screaming and my face turned red (as it still does when I start my crazy talks that only my close friends are privy to). I deliberately spooked a group of foreign tourist that I suspected to be from Iran. Alarmed my father moved in to shut me up. But, I was already done. I did pose in front of it in my sweaty synthetic shirt, but with a feeling of deep-set malice. Performance over, I moved out of the complex without raising my head to gauge the height of the Minar.
A few months ago, I boarded a Mehrauli bound 34 No. Blueline bus as I was supposed to go to Saket from Noida. I some how missed the red-light that marks the turn for Saket and I didn’t get off the bus. Three minutes after missing the spot, I could see the Qutub Minar looming on the horizon. I panicked, not known the dilli roads, worried, “where the hell have I reached!” as I remember my first long-winded trip to the Minar. I asked the bus driver to stop and got out of the bus. I looked at Qutub Minar and could not help laughing. I walked my way back tracing the path of the bus to the red- light and then walked on to Saket.
This month, at a friend’s insistence to “go some place”, we zeroed in on Qutub Minar. I really wanted to pay a small visit to place. My friend was more interested in putting his costly camera to some “good” use, finally. I looked for the familiar. I looked for the same rusty spots on the pillar that years ago had made me frothy. I looked for half a horse engraved in a corner of the roof of one of the structures near the pillar, a horse that I looked up and remembered by instinct once I entered the structure. I saw the Hindu Sculptures that look like they may or my not be ancient. However, this time I also looked at the magnificence of a structure that stood aside, alone and above it all, looking out of time, out of place ― Qutub Minar
Images of Qutub Minar taken on 2nd Dec, 2007 using a friend's Fujifilm FinePix S9600
Images edited using free image editing software Google's Picasa