It won’t be an exaggeration if we state that the ‘‘Charminar’’ is the true identity of Hyderabad. Hyderabad & the ‘Charminar’ are so closely knit that mention of the first is incomplete without the latter one or vice versa.
Standing on four sturdy minarets, the ‘Charminar’ is situated right at the heart of the Old City of Hyderabad. The majestic structure was constructed way back in 1591 by ‘Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah,’ the heir of ‘Qutubshahi’ dynasty. This structure is a symbol of gratitude to almighty (Allah) for averting the danger of the spread of the plague epidemic in the city. This phenomenal piece of ‘Islamic architecture’ is surrounded by other vital buildings such as a mosque & the famous ‘Laad Bazar.’ An anecdote related to the ‘Charminar’ states that the adjacent mosque is built at the very spot where ‘Muhammad Quli Qutb’ Shah had prayed for the annihilation of a plague from his city.
As per the local folklore, the ‘‘Charminar’’ is built exactly at the place where Qutb Shah had seen his future queen ‘Bhagmati’ for the very first time & renamed the city as ‘Hyderabad’ after her converting to Islam when she took the name as ‘Hyder Mahal.’ However, many historians & scholars deny this legend due to the lack of sufficient evidences.
The ‘‘Charminar’’ was basically meant to serve as a Mosque & Madraasa. The structure incorporates ‘Indo-Islamic Architecture’ style with the minor blend of ‘Persian Architecture.’ The Hyderabad was designed keeping the ‘Charminar’ at the center of the city. The ‘Charminar’ sits on the vantage point on the junction of traditional trade route between ‘Golconda market’ & the port of ‘Masulipatnam.’
The ‘Charminar’ is constructed using granite, limestone, pulverized marble & mortar. It is a square structure with every side 20m long & four giant arches wherein each one faces towards the four streets. Every corner is occupied by 56 meters tall, majestic minarets beautified by elegant petal-design at the bottom & nice globular dome at the top. Each minaret has a double balcony & 149 spiral steps to reach the top. The ‘Charminar’ is placed so perfectly that one can easily catch a glance at the lively Hyderabad city as the arcs of ‘Charminar’ are focused on the busiest royal roads of the city.
The ‘Charminar’ also has a couple of galleries, constructed one above the other & a terrace atop of galleries that serve as a crown which is ornamented with a stone-carved balcony. The main gallery has covered spaces that can accommodate 45 devotees for a prayer & also has an open space in front that can house more people gathering for Friday prayers. In 1889, four clocks, each on four cardinal directions, were added. A ‘Vazu’ (water cistern) with a small fountain was also installed for ablution before the prayer.
The ‘Charminar’ is surrounded by equally majestic monuments. The ‘Makkah Masjid’ is one of the most famous mosques in Hyderabad, which was constructed using the soil brought from Mecca, the most sacred place in Islam. The surroundings of the ‘Charminar’ are occupied by an excellent market named as ‘Laad Bazar’ which has the past as glorious as that of the ‘Charminar.’ The market is famous for amazing bangles. Its ‘Pather Gatti’ area is a hotspot for buying pearls. The ‘Laad Bazar’ has myriad shops that can notch 14,000 marks at the prime time of the festival.
The ‘Charminar’ is looking after the city as a true & a loyal imperial guard for the past more than 400 years without even the slightest hints of deterioration & assures to serve this city even in the future till the world’s end. The ‘Charminar’ witnesses the good as well as worst days in the history of this majestic city & hence can be reckoned as a true icon & the genuine identity of the glorious city of Hyderabad.