Ala-ud-din Khilji (r: 1296-1316), the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty of Delhi, made significant contributions to architecture, with the most notable being the Alai Darwaza. Alai Darwaza, also known as the Gate of Ala-ud-din Khilji, serves as the main entrance to the southern end of the Qutb mosque, or Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, situated within the Qutb Complex in Delhi.
Alai Darwaza forms a part of Ala-ud-din's extension of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Built in 1311, this grand gate stands adjacent to the Qutb Minar. It features a square hall adorned with a beautiful dome. The gate is primarily built of red sandstone, with occasional accents of white marble.
The doorways are intricately embellished. The lofty pointed arches of the three doorways on the east, west and south sides are elegantly shaped like horseshoes. On each side of the doorway, there are two windows, covered by marble screens featuring delicate lattice work. The presence of Lotus Buds on all three entrances adds to the overall allure of the structure.
Alai Darwaza is widely regarded as one of the earliest structures in India constructed in the authentic Islamic architectural style, featuring exquisite arches and true domes. Many of the inscribed stones have now fallen down.
In 1828, Major Smith, the esteemed Executive Engineer of Delhi at the time, undertook extensive restoration efforts to revive the gateway's former glory.
On the Western Doorway:
When the Almighty, great is his greatness, and exalted is his name, [wished] to revive the observances of Faith and to raise the banners of the Divine Law, [he] elected [for that purpose] the Lord of the world; so that the foundation of the faith of Muhammad may be strengthened [more and more] every moment, and that every moment the foundation of the law of Ahmad may get more and more firm. For the perpetuation of his kingdom and of his government, [the Sultan] builds Masjids for worship, according to the command of him who alone is the Preserver; verily, he builds God's Masjids, who knows him . . . Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan (Ala-ud-din Khilji), right arm of the Khilafat, ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin, may God perpetuate his kingdom to the day of Resurrection, [that he may] exalt the foundation of the Masjids of Islam, and preserve him long, [that he may] spread peace over the world! On the 15th of Shawwal in the year 710 (7th March 1311). The Great Hazrat, and the Lord over Princes; like into Mustofa [in dignity]; humbly submitting to the command of God; the chosen by the mercy of the merciful; great in the world and in Faith; the redresser of Islam and the Musalman; the giver of honor to kings and princes; firm with the help of the merciful: Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, second Sikandar (Alexander the Great); right arm of the Khilafat, ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin, may God perpetuate his kingdom: the foundation of this auspicious place for the Sunnath Jama’ath was built by him. This Masjid, which is as familiar to the lips of mankind as the Baitul Ma'mur [a shrine in heaven] with pure faith [which faith] is according to the command [of God]; he of the exalted Presence; Lord over the kings of the world; great in the world and in Faith; king of land . . . helped with the help of God: Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, the right arm of Khilafat, ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin, may God preserve his kingdom to the day of Faith [Resurrection]
On the Southern Doorway:
By the grace of the unequaled God, and with the help of the giver of this command: verily the foundation of a mosque is laid in piety. Great is his command and his prestige, countless are his justice and peace. According to the Hadis of him [Muhammad] who was commanded to, "turn your face to the Masjid of dignity" [the K'abah] Muhammad, the messenger of God, to him be greeting; as it is said by him, "he who builds a mosque for God, God has built a similar house for him in Paradise"; he of the exalted Presence; Lord of the kings of the world; Emperor, like Moses in splendour, like Solomon in dignity; protector of the commands of the law of Muhammad; helper of the observances of the religion of Ahmad; strengthener of the pulpits of place of learning and religion; strengthener of the rules of colleges and places of worship; increaser of the foundation of the customs of Musalmans; builder of the foundations of the faith of N'oman [Abu Hanifah]; uprooter of the roots of evil doers; the cutter of the branches of the observances of infidels; destroyer of the foundations of places of idolatry; and the exalter of the foundations of the Masjid of Islam; the place of the manifestation .... terror of infidels and benefactor of the Faithful: uprooter of evil doers from the face of the earth; conqueror of strong forts; conqueror of cities with strong foundations; confider in the strength of the merciful God: Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, right arm of the Khilafat; revealer of the faith of God; ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin, may God increase the shadow of his dignity on the heads of mankind to the day of Faith [Resurrection]! [he] built this Masjid, the Masjid Jam'a of the Saints, full of the faith of men of piety; the place of assembly of the high [among the] angels; the place of the presence of the souls of the Chief [among the] prophets. On the 15th of Shawwal in the year 710. In the auspicious reign of the exalted Hazrat; king of the Kings of the world; great in the world and in Faith; exalted by a victorious army: Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, right arm of the Khilafat; ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin; may God increase the shadow of his kingdom on the heads of mankind to the day of Faith [Resurrection]! This mosque has this quality, that whoever has entered it, has acquired Salvation . . . this mosque the extent and the height of which are as well known as those of Bait-ul-Muqqadas [or] rather it is a second Baitul Ma'mur, the exalted Hazrat, the Lord; the diffuser of grace and the giver of plenty; helped with the help of the King of Benevolence; great in the world and in Faith; the conqueror; Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan; the right arm of Khilafat; ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin, may God preserve the shadow of his glory to the day of Faith [Resurrection] was built [by him] with pure faith and good intentions.
On the Eastern Doorway:
The building of this noble house and the foundation of this eminent edifice was in the reign and during the kingship of the Lord of the Kings of the world; [a] king like Darius; king of perfect justice; abounding in benevolence; emperor full of goodness, who has his orders obeyed; exalter of the pulpits of Islam; reviver of the strength of the commandments [of God); builder of pulpits and of Masjids for worship; exalter of the foundation of places of worship; founder of the cities for the guide [to Faith]; destroyer of the countries of pride . . . the throne of royalty; expounder of the laws of the Holy War; the elucidator of the arguments of the Ijtehad; administrator of countries . . . Kings; exalter of the foundation of the arches of the pulpits of Islam; destroyer of the foundations of the place of worship of idols; founder of the rules of charity; the destroyer of drinking-houses; King, conqueror of countries; shadow of the mercy of God; helped with the help of God: Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, right arm of the Khilafat; ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin; may God preserve his kingdom [that he may continue] to build Masjids, and help his kingdom [that he may continue to] light up places of worship; and preserve him [in] his kingdom, and his rule to the end of the world, as long as this surat is read [in the world]; Pure is the Almighty who [made] his servant travel in one night from the Sacred Masjid [Ka'bah] to the Masjid-ul-aksa [the Temple of Jerusalem]! . . . By the order of the elect of the merciful, the Hazrat; conqueror of the countries of the world; King like Solomon; great in the world and in Faith; redresser of Islam and the Musalman; giver of honor to Kings and Princes; the collector of the foundations of goodness ... of the infidels; exalter of the arches and of pulpits, Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, right arm of Khilafat; ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin. May God preserve his Kingdom to the day of the Assembly [Resurrection]! [he] built this famous Masjid . . . this famous Jum'a Masjid ... by order of the elect of the merciful the Hazrat; the Sikandar (Alexander the Great) of his reign and of his time; great in the world and in the faith; King of the Kings of the world; companion of the moon . . . Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shah Sultan, right arm of the Khilafat; manifester of mercy and justice, ally of the Amir al-Mu'minin.
The Archaeology and Monumental Remains of Delhi By Carr Stephen