Charminar means "FourTowers" or "Mosque of the
four minarets") is one of the most important monuments in the city of Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The monument has history of over 400 years was built
by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 to commemorate the eradication of plague,
shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what now is known as
Hyderabad . Legends has it that the emperor Quli Qutb Shah prayed for the end
of plague and took the vow to build a masjid on that very place. He ordered the
construction of the masjid which became popular as Charminar because of its
four characteristic minarets (possibly depicting the first four khalifs of
Islam). The top floor of the four-storeyed structure has a masjid which has 45
covered prayer spaces and some open space to accommodate more people in Friday
prayers. Madame Blavatsky reports that
each of the floors was meant for a separate branch of learning.
True to the legend, the city blossomed into a
synthesis of two cultures. In 1591 while laying the foundation of Charminar,
Quli prayed: Oh God, bestow unto this
city peace and prosperity. Let millions of men of all castes, creeds and
religions make it their abode. Like fishes in the water.
It is believed there is an underground tunnel
connecting Golkonda to the Charminar, to allow the Qutb Shahi royalty to escape
during hard times. However, the exact location of the tunnel is unknown.
Charminar was once send for best photo challenge and it won the 2nd prize.
The Charminar is a beautiful and impressive square
monument, with each side measuring 20 m, and each of the edges having a pointed
high minaret. It derives its name from these four gracefully carved minarets
which soar to a height of 48.7 m above the ground, commanding the landscape for
miles around. Charminar literally means 'Four Spires' (Char (Hindi) = four,
Minar (Arabic manara) = spire/tower).
Each minaret has four stories, each looking like a
delicately carved ring around the minaret. Every side opens into a plaza
through giant arches, which overlook four major thoroughfares and dwarf other
features of the building except the minarets. Each arch is 11 m wide and rises
20 m to the pinnacle from the plinth. Once upon a time each of these arches led
to four royal roads. Each of the four arches has a clock which were put up in
1889. The monument overlooks another beautiful and grand mosque called Makkah
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built the Charminar.
There are two galleries within the Charminar, one
over another, and above those a terrace that serves as a roof, bordered with a
stone balcony. It is vaulted underneath and appears like a dome. There is a
large table raised seven or eight feet from the ground with steps to go up to
it. Nothing in the town seems so lovely as the outside of that building. A
thriving market still lies around the Charminar attracting people and
merchandise of every description. In its heyday, the Charminar market had some
14,000 shops, a unique conglomeration of a grand oriental bazaar. The whole
market around the Charminar is crowded with shops which sell glass bangles in
Unlike Taj Mahal, the
fluted minarets of Charminar are built into the main structure. Inside the
four-storied minarets 149 winding steps guide the visitor to the upper floor,
the highest point one can reach, and providing a panoramic view of the city.
There are 45 prayer spaces with a large open space in front to accommodate more
for Friday prayers
Built with granite and lime mortar, Charminar is a
fine example of the Cazia style of architecture. Locally available granite,
sand and lime were used in the construction of Qutb Shahi monuments including
Charminar. Lime used for the plaster seems to have been specifically ground and
treated to give durable stucco. Generally shell, lime, jaggery, white of egg,
etc. are known to enhance the binding property of lime. The SiO2 /CaO ratio in
Charminar mortar and plaster (1.61-2.25) indicates that the engineers at that
time were probably aware of the necessity of having a higher Sio2 content but
were not sure of the optimum value (presently the common practice is to have
3.0) at which the maximum strength of lime cement could be obtained.
The Charminar looks spectacular particularly in the
nights when it is illuminated. This graceful monument is very beautiful on the
inside, and is particularly known for its carvings and moldings. The
painstaking details result in a graceful, lace-like look.
It is said that, during the Moghul Governorship
between Qutb Shahi and Asaf Jahi rule, the South Western minaret "fell to
pieces" after being struck by lightning, but "was forthwith
repaired" at a cost of Rs 60,000. In 1824, the monument was
re-plastered at a cost of Rs 100,000.
The area surrounding Charminar is also known by same