On Christmas Day, a group of six children visit the Qutb Minar in Delhi. What follows is a process of discovery as the children stumble upon an unfinished Minar and a carved cupola and marvel at the skill of the craftsmen who built the Qutb.


  • The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India Series deals with five of India’s most fascinating heritage spots. In Qutb Minar: Head in the Clouds, Manya, Medhya, Krishna, Devansh, Aashna, and Dishita visit the Qutb Minar on a day trip with Manya and Medhya’s mother. The narrative follows the children on their exploration of the Qutb complex of monuments.
  • The framework of the story is very natural and believable. As the children roam the site, they observe and discover many things by chance. Devansh finds a peacock feather in the grass, and the children eavesdrop on a nearby tour group to learn the history of a structure called the cupola. These little touches tap into the feeling of excitement and wonder that being at a historical site can evoke.
  • The text is very informative. Not only does it discuss the original conception and construction of the Qutb Minar, it also draws attention to other aspects of its history. For instance, one of the fact boxes features an archival snippet, which is a description by an Englishwoman of how much she enjoyed picnicking at the top of the Minar! The author also draws attention to the importance of heritage preservation, and mentions the role of the Archaeological Survey of India in making key decisions about the site. Rather than just imparting facts about the monument, young readers are given a sense of some complex ideas such as how historical narratives are reconstructed, and how monuments are maintained.
  • Other than the illustrations of the human figures, which seem a bit plain, the pictures in this book are charming. The gentle, smooth colour palette, and the use of detailing make them interesting to look at. Small touches, such as a flock of pigeons feeding on the lawn, or a sparrow flying past the children, add to the appeal of the illustrations.
  • Some parts of the narrative are a bit stilted. It is hard to believe that the characters can spout detailed facts about the Qutb Minar in casual conversation. While the purpose of these moments is to convey historical information to the reader, they end up seeming quite unrealistic.


Qutb Minar: Head in the Clouds is a trivia-filled fact-cum-fiction book about a well-known and well-loved historical monument.


Author: Narayani Gupta
Illustrator: Shashi Shetye
Language: English
Page Extent: 36 pages
Price: Rs 195
Publisher: Mapin Publishing, 2018
Tags: Fiction/Illustrated Storybook/India/Heritage/Monuments/Series
Age-group: 8+

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