Qutub Minar is a 73-metre-tall tapering tower having five storeys, built by Shams-ud-Din Altamash, the Sultan of the Mamluk dynasty with origins in Turkey. Also, it the highest brick structure in India.
The experience of visiting and walking across the 12th century Qutub Minar complex after sunset will soon be a great experience with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) deciding to restore the minaret by replacing the façade lights with ‘architectural lights’.
The new lighting which will be similar to the ones installed at Red Fort will amplify the look of the Minar complex offering a detailed view of its magnificent architecture, calligraphic verses, corbels, and intricate carving to the visitors/tourists even at night.
The ASI has collaborated with the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to implement the replacement of lights, for which the design is being prepared. Qutub Minar, the iconic monument will become the second world heritage site in the national Capital to have state-of-the-art illumination after Red Fort in the coming months.
“Our historic buildings look weak in comparison to such sites abroad as they are beautifully illuminated. Architectural lights at Qutub Minar will enhance its aesthetic and will attract more tourists. Next in line is Safdarjung Tomb,” said Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Culture.
Basically, the façade lighting is a simple arrangement to light up the historical buildings in which lights are directed at the surfaces to be highlighted. However, architectural lighting also known as element illumination is programming based technique in which beams of light are cast on components such as domes, ramparts, minarets, arches, and balconies, from different angles to highlight their architectural details.
“More importantly, under architectural lightings plan, lamps are not fixed on the surface of the structure but are kept or placed at strategic points. This does not damage the building. For architectural illumination, energy-efficient LED lamps are used, which reduce power consumption significantly,” said a senior official of ASI, which is the national custodian and watchdog of heritage monuments in India.
The attributes of three more structures namely; Alai Darwaza, Alai Minar, and Quwwatul Islam mosque will also be highlighted by the installation of LED lights under the new lighting project.
“However, we will not allow tourists to go near or enter other structures to be illuminated as part of the plan. It may take three-four months to complete the project,” said the official, who is familiar with the matter.
“Elements illumination will enhance the Minar’s aesthetics by exposing beautifully inscribed calligraphy and other decorative features such as corbels, flanges, and balconies. People travelling towards Mehrauli will also be able to appreciate the monument from a distance,” said an official of the NBCC.
According to Usha Sharma, director general, ASI, the light replacement project is part of ASI’s ongoing restoration and preservation of city’s monuments for which ₹140 crores have already been allocated.
“Safdarjung’s tomb will be next after Qutub Minar. The ASI will also take up illumination of several protected sites and historic structures across the country, including Man Mahal (Banaras), Aga Khan Palace (Pune), and Metcalf Hall (Kolkata),” she said.