“Qutub Minar is one of the biggest examples of our culture, that a monument which was built after demolishing 27 of our temples is celebrated as World Heritage, even after Independence,” said Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, while inaugurating the illumination of the monument in Delhi on Saturday evening.
The minister also made a mention of the 24-feet-high iron pillar in the complex, which, he said, “is centuries older than the monument and presents a sample of our sophistication that it has not rusted even after 1,600 of its existence out in the open”. He recommended that the Archaeological Survey of India, the monument’s custodian, put a plaque elucidating the pillar’s history and significance.
Talking about temples said to be demolished by Mughals before they built Qutub Minar in Mehrauli, Patel said, “Even as the Yogmaya Temple existed at the time the ASI took over the Qutub complex, one wonders why the particular temple wasn’t handed over to the conservation agency; maybe because it was a place of daily worship.”
As per legend, Yogmaya Temple is dedicated to the sister of Lord Krishna. According to local priests, it is one of 27 temples destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni and later by Mamluks, and is the only surviving temple belonging to pre-Sultanate period which is still in use. Though its original (300-200 BC) architecture could never be restored, its reconstruction was carried out repetitively by the locals.
Patel added that recently, South Delhi BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, also present at the occasion, had requested his Ministry to start e-rickshaw services between Qutub Minar and the temple for visitors, and that his ministry will consider the proposal.
Qutub Minar joins a group of heritage structures in Delhi — including Safdarjung Tomb, Red Fort and Purana Qila — that have been illuminated to encourage night-time tourism.