The Charminar, constructed in 1591 CE, is a monument and mosque located in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. The landmark has become a global icon of Hyderabad, listed among the most recognized structures of India. The Charminar is situated on the east bank of Musi river.To the west lies the Laad Bazaar, and to the southwest lies the richly ornamented granite Makkah Masjid.It is listed as an archaeological and architectural treasure on the official “List of Monuments” prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India under the The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
The English name is a translation and combination of the Urdu words Chār and Minar or meenar, translating to “Four Towers”; the eponymous towers are ornate minarets attached and supported by four grand arches.Some of the popular myths that are recorded in accord with the monument’s architectural appearance are as follows.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the current caretaker of the structure, mentions in its records that, “There are various theories regarding the purpose for which Charminar was constructed. However, it is widely accepted that charminar was built at the center of the city, to commemorate the eradication of plague”, a deadly disease which was wide spread at that time.as Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the end of a plague that was ravaging his city and vowed to build a Mosque at the very place where he prayed. According to Jean de Thévenot, a French traveller of the 17th century whose narration was complemented with the available Persian texts, the Charminar was constructed in the year 1591 CE, to commemorate the beginning of the second Islamic millennium year (1000 AH). The event was celebrated far and wide in the Islamic world, thus Qutb Shah founded the city of Hyderabad to celebrate the event and commemorate it with the construction of this building.
Historian Masud Hussain Khan says that the construction of Charminar was completed in the year 1592, and that it is the city of Hyderabad which was actually founded in the year 1591. According to the book “Days of the Beloved”, Qutb shah constructed the Charminar in the year 1589, on the very spot where he first glimpsed his future queen Bhagmati, and after her conversion to Islam, Qutb Shah renamed the city as “Hyderabad”. Though the story was denied by the historians and scholars, it became popular folklore among the locals.Qutb Shah was also among the early poets of Dakhani Urdu, while laying the foundation of Charminar performed the prayers in Dakhini couplets, which are recorded as follows:
The fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built the Charminar in 1591. After shifting his capital from Golkonda to Hyderabad he built a big structure of Charminar. Because of Charminar this landmark became a global icon of Hyderabad.
Clock of the Charminar
The Charminar was constructed in the intersection of the historical trade route that connects the markets of Golla konda with the port city of Machilipatnam. The Old City of Hyderabad was designed with Charminar as its centerpiece.The city was spread around the Charminar in four different quadrants and chambers, seggregated according to the established settlements. Towards the north of Charminar is the Char Kaman, or four gateways, constructed in the cardinal directions the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built the Charminar in1591 century. After Shifting His capital from Golla konda to Hyderabad He built this awesome structure of charminar. Because of charminar this landmark became a global icon of Hyderabad .Additional eminent architects from Persia were also invited to develop the city plan. The structure itself was intended to serve as a Mosque and Madraasa. It is of Indo-Islamic architecture style, incorporating Persian architectural elements.
A minaret of the Charminar
The Charminar is a square structure with each side 20 meters (approximately 66 feet) long, with four grand arches each facing a fundamental point that open into four streets. At each corner stands an exquisitely shaped minaret, 56 meters (approximately 184 feet) high, with a double balcony. Each minaret is crowned by a bulbous dome with dainty petal-like designs at the base. Unlike the Taj Mahal’s, Charminar’s four fluted minarets are built into the main structure. There are 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor. The structure is also known for its profusion of stucco decorations and the arrangement of its balustrades and balconies.
The structure is made of granite, limestone, mortar and pulverised marble. Initially the monument with its four arches was so proportionately planned that when the fort was opened one could catch a glimpse of the bustling Hyderabad city, as these Charminar arches were facing the most active royal ancestral streets.There is also a legend of an underground tunnel connecting the Golla konda fort to Charminar, possibly intended as an escape route for the Qutb Shahi rulers in case of a siege, though the location of the tunnel is unknown.
A mosque is located at the western end of the open roof; remaining part of the roof served as a court during the Qutb Shahi times. The actual mosque occupies the top floor of the four-storey structure. A vault which appears from inside like a dome supports two galleries within the Charminar, one over another, and above those a terrace that serves as a roof, bordered with a stone balcony. The main gallery has 45 covered prayer spaces with a large open space in front to accommodate more people for Friday prayers.
The area surrounding Charminar is also known by the same name. The monument overlooks another grand mosque called the Makkah Masjid. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, hence its name.
A thriving market exists around Charminar: Laad Baazar is known for its jewelry, especially exquisite bangles, and the Pather Gatti which is famous for its pearls. In its heyday, the Charminar market had some 14,000 shops.
In 2007, Hyderabad Muslims living in Pakistan constructed a small-scaled quasi replica of the Charminar at the main crossing of the Bahadurabad neighborhood in Karachi.Lindt chocolatier Adelbert Boucher created a scaled model of the Charminar out of 50 kilograms of chocolate. The model, which required three days’ labour, was on display at The Westin, Hyderabad, India on 25 and 26 September 2010.
There is a temple named Bhagyalakshmi Temple located at the base of Charminar. It is the center of controversy concerning its age. In 2012, The Hindu newspaper published an old photograph showing that the temple structure never existed. The Hindu also released a note asserting the authenticity of the photographs, and clearly stated that there was no temple structure in photos taken in 1957 and 1962. Additionally, it showed photos that provide evidence that the temple is a recent structure – a temple structure can be seen in photos taken in 1990 and 1994. Also, a temple is seen in a photograph taken in 1986 which is kept in the Aga Khan Visual Archive, MIT Libraries’ collections, United States, but not in the earlier ones.
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