Atlas Obscura - Curious and Wondrous Travel Destinations

Smith's Folly

This cupola was once seen as an architectural disaster.  

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In a corner of the green lawns surrounding Qutub Minar, this towering monument of the Delhi Sultanate and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as a leftover from the British Raj period, it’s known sd called Smith’s Folly. At first glance, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, just an unassuming pavilion complimenting the garden, but it once stood on top of Qutub Minar.

Built-in the early 13th century, the tower originally stood well over 300 feet tall and underwent several repairs throughout the ages. In 1803, its cupola was severely damaged in an earthquake, and Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army sought to repair it. His pillared cupola was installed in 1828 as the sixth story of the tower but removed in 1848 as its architectural style was unfit for the ancient monument.

The cupola, dethroned and placed on the ground in the shadow of Qutub Minar, came to be known as Smith’s Folly.

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August 9, 2023

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