Shams al-Din Iltutmish Tomb
Delhi, India
The Mausoleum of Shams al-Din Iltutmish (reg. 1211-1236), is located in the northwest corner of the Qutb complex next to Iltutmish's own extensions to the Qutb Mosque.

The sandstone structure is square, measuring 9.1 meters along each side, with a height of 8.41 m to the base of the (conjectured) dome. It was constructed of new material, not making use of the spolia used in other buildings in the Qutb complex. It has three entrances, on the north, east, and south elevations. The western wall, facing Mecca, houses the mihrab as the central niche of three. The upper chamber, now open to the sky, contains the richly decorated marble cenotaph. Steps on the northern side leading down to the burial chamber below.

The square base of the tomb structure is transformed into an octagon overhead with ogee squinch arches. These arches are constructed with corbels rather than with true arches. The structure has no dome or other roof. It has been conjectured that the original dome collapsed; it has also been noted that the exterior walls of the tomb are comparatively thin (2.2 meters), and might not have been able to support the outward thrust generated by a dome.

The entrance and parts of the exterior are laid with quartzite, and the gates are decorated with carvings; however, the real decorative richness of the tomb is found within. Elaborate epigraphy on walls, arabesques, and geometrical designs adorn the western niches and mihrab. The inscription panels include Kufic, Tughra and Nakshi scripts illustrating chapters of the Quran. Hindu motifs such as lotus flowers and bells on chains are also found in the sandstone carvings.


Asher, Catherine. The New Cambridge History of India: Architecture of Mughal India. Cambridge University Press, 1992. 4-5.

Balasubramaniam, R. The World Heritage Complex of the Qutub. New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2005. 28, 98-100.

Nabi Khan, Ahmad. Islamic Architecture in South Asia: Pakistan - India - Bangladesh. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 31.

Page, J.A. An Historical Memoir on the Qutb, Delhi. New Delhi: Laxmi Book Store, 1970. 13, 14.

Sahai, Surendra. Indian Architecture: Islamic Period, 1192 - 1857. New Delhi: Prakash Books India, 2004. 15-18.

Tillotson, G.H.R. Mughal India. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990. 34.
Delhi, India
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1235/632 AH
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Mausoleum of Iltutmish
Mausoleum of Shams al-Din Iltutmish
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