Delhi 101: #3 The Iron Pillar – Go figure its dimensions!

The Iron Pillar
The Iron Pillar

The wonders around Qutab Minar (itself a wonder) never cease. Take the case of the Iron Pillar located in the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque compound.

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

Dating back to the 4th century A.D., the pillar bears an inscription whose interpretation says it was erected to honour Hindu God Vishnu by a certain King Chandra (could possibly be King Chandragupta II, A.D. 375 – 413). These facts may not be confirmed, but the pillar’s Superman features are.

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It stands 7.3 meters tall, one meter below the ground; it is 48 centimetres wide at the foot, tapering to 29 cms at the top (you need to figure out how to measure the top yourself!). And, it should weigh about 6.5 tonnes – again lift it to prove us wrong. If these dimensions are not in place, somebody has tampered with our pillar!


And there is more: the pillar is 98 percent wrought iron and has stood 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing. Those old guys really knew their stuff! And was it thick-skinned. When Nadir Shah attacked Delhi, his workers could not uproot it as snakes are believed to have surrounded the pillar to form a protective barrier. Cannon shots could leave little more than marks on the surface – these might have been fired either by Nadir Shah’s army or the Marathas. The pillar also survived earthquakes that damaged other structures in the complex.

There was a time when you were allowed to go right up to the pillar and put your arms around it – a fence keeps people at bay now. The only known exception in recent times was for Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan while shooting for the film Cheeni Kum.

Watch the flick to know if his arms managed to hug the pillar fully.

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