|Location||Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
|Minaret height||48.7 metres (160 ft)|
The Charminar, built in 1591 CE, is a monument and mosque located in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. The landmark has become a global icon of Hyderabad, listed among the most recognized structures of India. The Charminar is on the east bank of Musi river. To the northeast lies the Laad Bazaar and in the west end lies the granite-made richly ornamented Makkah Masjid.
The English name is a transliteration and combination of the Urdu words Chār and Minar, 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 undertaker 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", 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 (French traveller of the 17th century) whose narration was complemented through 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 in the far and width of the Islamic world, thus Qutb Shah founded the Hyderabad city in the year 1591 to celebrated the event of millennium year (1000 AH) with the construction of Charminar.:17–19
"Masud Hussain Khan" an scholar of history mentions in one of his Urdu book; the construction of Charminar was completed in the year 1592, and it is the Hyderabad city which was actually founded in the year 1591.:4 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, but it became a popular folklore among the locals.:3,12
During the Mughal governorship between Qutb Shahi and Asaf Jahi rule, the southwestern minaret "fell to pieces" after being struck by lightning and "was forthwith repaired" at a cost of 60,000. In 1824, the monument was replastered at a cost of 100,000.
Design and construction
Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah laid the Charminar, the structure was intended to serve as a Mosque and Madraasa. Mir Momin Astarabadi, the prime minister of Qutb Shah played a leading role to prepare the layout plan for the Charminar along with the new capital city (Hyderabad),:170 the additional eminent architects from Persia were also invited to develop the city plan. the structure is of Indo-Islamic architecture style, incorporating Persian architectural elements. The Charminar was constructed on the intersection of the historical trade route that connects the markets of the Golconda with the port city of Masulipatnam.:195 The Hyderabad city was designed keeping Charminar as a center piece, 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 (four gateways) constructed in the cardinal directions. 
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, Charminar's four fluted minarets are built into the main structure. There are 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor. The structure also known as profuseness of stucco decorations and arrangement of 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 Golkonda 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 and the 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 that 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 clock on the four cardinal directions was added in 1889 and there is a Vazu(water cistern)in the middle with a small fountain for Ablution before offering prayer in the Charminar Mosque.
The area surrounding Charminar is also known by same name. The monument overlooks another and 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, thus giving the mosque its name. It formed the centerpiece around which the city was planned by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah.
A thriving market exists around the Charminar: Laad Baazar is known for jewellery, especially exquisite bangles, and the Pather Gatti is famous for pearls. In its heyday, the Charminar market had some 14,000 shops.
An artistic monument of Charminar made of 50 kilograms of chocolate and three days of labor, was on display at The Westin, Hyderabad, India. Lindt chocolatier Adelbert Boucher created the scaled model of Charminar which was on display on September 25 and 26, 2010.
There is a temple named Bhagyalakshmi Temple located in the base of Charminar, which is the centre of controversy due to its age. The Hindu newspaper came up with 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. It also stated that a temple structure can be seen in a photo taken in 1990 and 1994. A photograph taken in 1986 which is kept in Aga Khan Visual Archive, MIT Libraries’ collections, United States also shows existence of a temple.
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- M. Rafique Zakaria, Charminar in Karachi, Dawn, April 22, 2007
- A Charminar to drool and eat
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charminar.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Hyderabad.|
- Photos of Charminar on HyderabadPlanet.com
- Mushroom Minarette: An article published by Out Look India.
- A panoramic image of Charminar along with Old City of Hyderabad, The image is published in Earth Platinum Atlas