Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan *

Afghanistan is more in the news with activities of the Taliban and al Qaeda and one is apt to overlook that this ancient land has a strong architectural history of monuments and forts. At one time the entire North Indian plains and Afghanistan was part of one region ruled by the Emperors from Delhi.   The rulers of Delhi often visited Afghanistan and spent quality time there.

At that time Afghanistan was a peaceful nation and was not party to internecine warfare that has over taken the nation now. It is a matter of relief that despite the on going insurrection some monuments of great historical value have survived destruction.
One of the monuments is the Minaret of Jam. One look at it will show that it is inspired by the Kutab Minar, which was erected by Kutabdin Aibak a member of the slave dynasty that ruled Delhi between the 11th and 13th century AD.

The minaret is 62 meters in height and compared to the Kutab Minar which stands 72.5 meters high is shorter by over 10 meters. It is one of the many minarets built between the 12th and 13thcentury all over central Asia. The principle of building these minarets was to glorify Islam and bring out the fact that no other religion or faith could match it. The minarets also reached upwards to the sky as it was felt that the higher the minaret the closer a believer is to Allah while praying. Many historians led by Ralph-Pindar Wilson are of the opinion that the Minar was built by Mohammed Ghuri to commemorate his victory over Prithviraj Chauhan at the battle of Tarain in 1138.

The minaret is surrounded by mountains that reach a height of 2400 meters and is close to  a small secluded vale through which a river flows. That is one of the reasons this minaret has escaped the ravages of wars . The minaret is made of roasted bricks and is an engineering feat. It has verses engraved on its walls and the surprise is that the some of the verses eulogies   Mary the mother of Jesus Christ.

The minaret is recognized as a world heritage site in 2002 by UNESCO. It is a matter of delight that this minaret has survived wars and pillage. However the minaret is in danger from nature and erosion. It is also tilting and world heritage experts are trying to restore the monument.
Minaret of Jam