If you have ever been to Qutub Minar in Delhi, you’ll notice on the forefront of the Minar a lone pillar, nearly 24 feet tall, standing in all its glory. This pillar is made of 98% wrought iron and weighs more than 6 tons. You may think it is a random, pretty looking pillar with no story but you’d be wrong. The mystery and story behind this ornate structure is nothing less than captivating.
The pillar was transferred to its current location from somewhere else roughly about 1000 years ago. The inscription on the pillar speaks of a King and as per its era of creation, it is presumably about Chandragupta or Samudragupta of the Gupta Empire.
The purpose of this pillar is unclear. Some say it was a sundial at its origin in Madhya Pradesh while some say it was a flagstaff made for the king mentioned in the inscription. No reason has been found behind its moving from Madhya Pradesh to Delhi. However, the biggest mystery behind this pillar lies in the fact that this pillar doesn’t rust and has never ever rusted before. How can an iron structure so big never rust? This baffled metallurgists all over the country.
Some reasons cited by experts have been the weather in Delhi. Humidity is one of the main reasons behind rusting and Delhi is a dry city. Some cite that the quality of metal used or the unique skills of the men who worked on the pillar are the reasons behind its non-rusting quality. It is also said that a protective layer called “misawite”, a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen, is the reason why the pillar has remained in an unexpectedly good condition.
This wonder monument is a classic example of the expert steelmaking ability present in ancient India. It may not seem like much but it showcases a high level of artistic and skilful construction. This iron pillar is still a mystery and a thing of marvel to the world.