(cont. from section 2) Behind the mosque are cool, arched buildings, the equivalent of cloisters in a European cathedral, which are delicately carved in the stone-work tradition which is both beautiful in itself, and an ancestor of the Taj Mahal in Agra. If you enter a room, over stone steps bowed slightly by the passage of centuries’ worth of feet, you can see the slightly rounded corners with stone seats, and amazing lattice carvings to help lower the temperature by that crucial few degrees in summer. The pillars are geometrically beautiful, holding up the roof without looking other than decorative. The ceilings are fairly low at the corners of the small rooms, but the domes set above the centre of each one means there is a perfect arch above the middle point of the space.
The Qutab Minar itself is a victory tower, built to celebrate the taking of Delhi from the Hindus - in the days of a Hindu majority in India, and the increasing extremism of Hindu national political movements, the lack of maintenance of the complex is not a surprise. You are now not able to climb the stairs inside the tower; there is no rail on the balcony which emerges at the top and it's therefore thought to be dangerous - several people died here a few years ago, owing to a crush of people causing those at the top to fall off. The lower part of the tower, which is some 60 feet in diameter at the bottom, is not perfectly round. Rather, there are semi-circular half-pillars emerging from it, with elaborate carvings and decoration.
The builder of the complex originally intended the tower to be the first, small effort. On the far side of the complex is the much greater start of the second tower, which would have been 2 or 3 times the size of the first. The tower only made it to about 18 feet above the ground, however, before events overtook and the King was deposed.
It is a good idea to combine a trip to these buildings with a visit to Tugluguabad, which is a few miles to the east, as both sites are some way south of Old and New Delhi. Hiring a rickshaw or taxi to take you to both is a good idea, it can then take you back to the centre without your having to bargain at each stage of the tour.