Charminar, the Icon of Hyderabad
The Icon of Hyderabad
“At Hyderabad’s centre stood the great Char Minar, a monumental gateway formed by quadrant of arches rising to four domed minarets. The Char Minar marked the meeting of the city’s two principle bazars, where the road from the craggy citadel of Golcanda crossed with that comming from the great port of Masulipattanam.”
William Dalrymple’s White Mughals
Charminar, literally meaning four towers (Char = four, Minar = Tower), is synonymous the Pearl City of Hyderabad. Standing on a traffic island in one of the the most congested part of the old city this monument is the icon of Hyderabad.
Built in 1591 by Md Quli Qutab Shah, the fifth sultan of the Qutab Sahi Dynasty of Golconda, probably to mark the eradication of Plague from the city of Hyderabad.
Legend has it that Sultan Md Quli Qutab Shah prayed “Bestow upon this city peace and prosperity. Let million of men of all castes, creeds and religion make it their abode, like fishes in water.”
At the very sight where he prayed he vowed to construct a mosque, resulting in the construction of Charminar, a monument which also doubles up as a mosque.
But opinions differ and according to some historians the Charminar constructed in 1591 coincided with the first millennium of the Islamic calender. It is believed that Charminar was constructed to commemorate the beginning of the second Islamic millennium, an event celebrated far and wide through out the Islamic world.
Today the Charminar stand on traffic island in one of the busiest and congested areas of Hyderabad. Standing on a square base of 20 meters, each side is flanked by giant arches facing the four cardinal directions. Each of the arch is crowned with a clock which were installed in 1889.
The arches support two floors of rooms and galleries, with the top floor housing a small mosque on the western end. On each of the four corners stands the four towering minarets, each rising to the height of 48.7 meters from the ground level.
Each double balconied minarets stands on a lotus motif and is crowned with a bulbous cupola. A 149 step spiral staircase leads to the top. balcony, hover tourist are only allowed to up to the first floor. The second floor and minars are totally out of reach of common tourist.
The granite structure with intricate limestone stucco work on its interior and exterior walls complete with Koranic inscription. In the centre stands a ornamental fountain.
The first floor of Charminar offers a breathtaking views stretching all the way to the Golkonda Fort, towering above the chaotic traffic of Hyderabad. It also offers good views of the nearby Makkah Masjid.
An outstanding specimen of Cazia and Islamic styles along with the influences of South Indian Temple architecture the Chariminar is a must visit for every traveller visiting the Pearl City of Hyderabad.
This trip was part of a FAM (familirazation) tour of Hyderabad and Warangal conducted by Andhra Paradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Special thanks to:
- Kalyani, Consultant Sales and Marketing, APTDC
- Dr. P. Jogi Naidu, Dy. Director (Retd.), Archeology and Museums, AP
- Kiran Mehata and Sunil Vidayanatahn my fellow FAM tour participant
- Santosh our driver
- Haritah Hotels
- All the staff of APTDC