A rare glimpse into the past of the Qutub Minar is being exhibited in the form of archival photographs, lithographs and sketches at India International Centre
After a long break, due to the pandemic, IIC has finally opened its door for their first physical exhibition on Qutub Minar at the Main Art Gallery. Titled ‘The Silent Melody of Qutub Minar’, the exhibition has on display archival photographs, lithographs and sketches from the collection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Delhi Circle.
The ASI has a large and important collection of photographs produced from the late 19th century onwards, a major resource for the study of Indian architecture, archaeology and for the early practice of archaeological photography in the subcontinent.
The photography holdings are also a rich resource material for the study of the development of photography. The original paper and glass negatives of the photographs include those taken by well-known photographers of the period such as Thomas Biggs, Edmund David Lyon, Robert Gill and Lala Deen Dayal among others.
This exhibition brings together re-prints of archival photographs, some over 100 years old of Qutub Munar and its surrounding complex. A Unesco World Heritage Site, the 13thcentury red sandstone tower with its surrounding funerary buildings has drawn distinguished visitors from around the world including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh along with the Prince of Wales; then Yugoslavian President, Josip Broz Tito; and the Shah of Iran; renowned archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler are some of the well-known visitors to the site.
The photographs of some of these historic moments have been re-produced by ASI’s technical team of the photography division from the negatives in their archives.
The exhibition also showcases sketches of the mediaeval tower by engineers and artists, including a pencil sketch by engineer Ensign Blunt from 1794. A special section is devoted to the cameras used from 1940 onwards by archaeologists of ASI to document their work recording history. Of interest to viewers are photographs taken inside the tower when visitors were permitted to climb the winding circular stairwell; and also when they could put their arms around the Iron Pillar for good luck.
The exhibition is on display at India International Centre till 31 January