Justine Sambrook looks at one of the most remarkable ancient monuments in India…

Qutb Minar and arch of the mosque porch

Qutb Minar and arch of the mosque porch, Quwwat al-Islam Mosque Complex, Delhi, 1860s
Photographer: Samuel Bourne
© RIBA Library Photographs Collection

The earliest mosque built by the Delhi Sultans and the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutb Minar was built between 1192 and 1368 as a victory tower signifying the start of Muslim rule in India. Monuments such as this were often captured by early British photographers travelling the subcontinent and entranced by its exotic architectural heritage. Samuel Bourne spent only six years in India but, with his partner Charles Shepherd, formed its most successful commercial photographic studio and upon his return to Britain he had taken 2,200 glass plate negatives of the scenes he had encountered.

Justine Sambrook
Curator, Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library, RIBA

This photograph is currently on show in the exhibition ’A Visual Journey Through the Indian Subcontinent‘, part of the Out of India season taking place at the RIBA until 4 September 2013. More images are available to view online via RIBApix.


About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit www.architecture.com

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