The History and Architecture of Charminar, One Of The Most Iconic Landmarks Of Hyderabad (2023)
Charminar is a mosque and monument, unarguably the most iconic landmark of Hyderabad. For every single mention of Hyderabad, one cannot forget to talk about Charminar. Hyderabad boasts many historical and architectural monuments, and Charminar is the most popular among them. Not only Hyderabad but Charminar is notedly recognized as one of India’s most popular architectural landmarks as well. Every year lakhs of locals and foreigners visit Charminar to admire its historical, architectural, and religious grandness.
Origin of Charminar, Hyderabad’s Most Prized Possession
Charminar, Hyderabad’s historically and religiously significant landmark, is attracting people regardless of their religious beliefs. This Islamic architectural wonder was built back in 1591 by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah. Charminar, the towering monument cum mosque, is the dubbed version of the Arc de Triomphe of the east. Its construction began in the year 1589 and took around 2 years to complete. About 4 centuries back, it took a cost of Rs. 9 lakhs (perhaps 2 lakh Huns/gold coins in those times) to build this crowned treasure.
According to several theories, Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah built Charminar to commemorate the eradication of the plague. It was then built at the center of the city.
Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah prayed for the end of this plague, and hence when his prayers were answered, he built the Charminar as a tribute to Allah. Some theories also suggest that the four pillars of Charminar are the first four caliphs of Islam.
Other claims suggest that Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah was keen on building Charminar out of love. If this theory is to be believed, he built Charminar right at that place where he saw his then-future wife Bhagmati for the first time. As per some more claims, Charminar was built in memory of Prophet Muhammed’s son-in-law. The monument is in the shape of Shiya Tazias and was built after Prophet’s son-in-law lost his life in the battle of Karbala. Disputing all that was said, Jean de Thévenot, a French traveler suggests that the reason behind constructing Charminar was to commemorate the start of the second Islamic millennium.
Charminar’s Mesmerizing Architecture
Charminar is a grand two-storied building designed by Mir Momin Astrawadi, a well-known Iranian architect. Today, even after 432 years, this imposing structure is standing tall and strong with all tests of time.
This square-shaped monument has every side 66 feet long. All four sides have one grand arch, each facing a fundamental point opening on the front street. All four grand arches (pillars) represent four caliphs and are approximately 184 feet high. Four Pillar translates as ‘Char Minar’ in Hindi and Urdu, and that’s how this grand treasure got its name.
Charminar is the finest example of Qutub Shahi architecture, with its composition in the Indo-Saracenic style. All four grand arches are crowned by a bulbous dome and have petal-like designs at their base. To reach the top floor, there are 149 winding steps. As one moves forward, the stucco decorations, along with an arrangement of balustrades and balconies, mesmerize to an unending level of excellence.
Charminar weighs around 14000 tonnes and has a 30 feet deep foundation, at least. The monument was built using granite, limestone, mortar, and pulverized marble. Initially, when Charminar was newly built, one could see all four corners of Hyderabad through its four grand arches. The scenarios have changed today after 4 centuries of endless construction around the city. Charminar’s western end of the open roof has a mosque as well. This small mosque faces Mecca and is the oldest surviving mosque in Hyderabad.
In the middle of the courtyard lies a small Vazu with a small fountain. It is where one can go for ablution before offering prayers. The mosque consists of 45 prayer spaces or musallah. Though since this space is small, there is an open space in the main gallery where people gather for Friday Prayers (Namaz).
Surprising and Contradicting Claims: Some claims suggest that Charminar was built using both Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. Some arches, minarets, and domes designs at Charminar were inspired by Hindu architecture. Charminar’s architecture, though, is majorly inclined towards Islamic designs, but its ornamentation is primarily in Hindu style.
The Iconic Charminar and its Surroundings
Charminar was originally placed in the center of Hyderabad, and the area is still known by the name ‘Charminar’. The monument is nestled on the east banks of the Musi River, the major tributary of the Krishna River. To Charminar’s southwest is the ornamental Makkah Masjid. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, again built this grand mosque. According to theories, Mecca Masjid was built using soil brought from Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.
On Charminar’s west is Hyderabad’s most famous shopping destination, the Laad Bazar. This grand market is famous for several traditional items, but especially its bangles and jewelry. Another market, the Pathar Gatti, is where people visit to buy pearls in different ornamental forms. Surrounding Charminar is some 14,000 shops, and each of them runs with an unending competition. There is no day in the year when this market doesn’t experience a crowd of shoppers.
Towards Charminar’s North lies Char Kaman & Gulzar Houz. Char Kaman is basically four arches known by names including Charminar Kaman, Kali Kaman, and more. The Gulzar Houz is a fountain right in the center of four arches.
Charminar Festivals and Celebrations
Charminar, due to its religious significance, also boasts as a site of a festive gatherings. Islamic festivals, including such as Eid-ul-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, etc., are celebrated with great enthusiasm here. The monument lights up beautifully in tri-color during National Festivals, including Indian Independence Day and Republic Day.
The Modern Day Charminar
Charminar is recognized all across India and even in the entire Asian spread. This perfect epitome of Shahi architecture with hints of Hindu style ornamentation draws curious minds from worldwide. Even after more than 400 years, Charminar is yet operational, bringing religious, cultural, and architectural lovers all in one place. Due to the unending tourism rush, Charminar today is all covered with vehicular traffic and street vendors. Noticing the condition, the government came up with the Charminar Pedestrianization Project as a measure. The project involves multi-level parking construction, traffic control, and other measures.
Interesting and Unknown Facts about Charminar, Hyderabad’s Iconic Landmark
Charminar is claimed as the center point of Hyderabad, and for all the right reasons. When Hyderabad was planned, Charminar was the focal point, and the city was blueprinted in a gridiron pattern. With two roads running east-west and north-south, Charminar is automatically the center of Hyderabad.
- Charminar is one of India’s oldest monuments and is presently more than 420 years old.
- Charminar is an ideal example of different religious coexistence. Mecca Masjid and Bhagyalakshmi Temple bring Indian Muslims and Hindus together in a beautiful way.
- According to theories, Charminar is a tribute to Allah and a celebration of the end of the plague epidemic in Hyderabad during the 1500s.
- It is still a mystery, but some claims suggest that there’s an underground tunnel that connects Charminar to Golconda Fort.
- Since Charminar was built at the end of a plague epidemic. Back then, the plague was spread by infected rats and cats, and the monument has a beautiful architectural representation of the same. One of the arches on the eastern side of Charminar has a cat’s head carved in it.
- Charminar is listed as an archaeological and architectural treasure. It was also listed on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Charminar was Hyderabad’s first multi-stories building.
- The structure of Charminar also represents in the Emblem of Telangana.
- When Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb invaded Hyderabad in 1687, he wanted the destruction of Charminar. However, due to the mosque’s presence on its first floor, he changes his mind.
- The Lindt chocolatier, Adelbert Boucher, once replicated Charminar using around 50 kg of chocolate.
- Charminar’s lightning hues make it a wonderful sight to behold every evening.
Visiting Charminar, Hyderabad- All The Details You Need To Know
Charminar being Hyderabad’s most popular tourist destination, is frequently visited. You are missing some excellence if you haven’t been to this architectural and historical marvel before. Here’s all that you need to know before visiting Charminar in Hyderabad.
Charminar Location and Address:
Heart of Hyderabad
Telephone Exchange, Pathergatti Rd, Hyderabad, Telangana, 500002, India
The nearest airport- is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Hyderabad.
Nearest Railway Station- Hyderabad Deccan railway station or Nampally railway station.
Hyderabad is also well connected with other South Indian cities via Interstate and Intercity buses. Indian roadways are a large network and operate frequent daily bus services. Individuals can reach Hyderabad either via flight or train. Hyderabad is one of India’s largest tech-driven cities, well-connected with frequent flights and trains. One can book a local Hyderabad taxi or a local rickshaw and reach Charminar from both Airport and Railway station.
Charminar Operating Hours
Charminar remains open throughout the year. The monument operates from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm from Monday through Sunday. On Friday, the monument is frequented by Namazis (Muslim prayer offerors).
Charminar Entry Fee
Indians: 5 INR
Foreigners: 100 INR
Still and Video Camera: Free
You can either book your ticket online or get one after reaching the monument.
*Since Charminar is a religious destination, visitors must dress well before visiting. However, there is no such dress code, but one should dress well covered to respect Islamic religious beliefs. Avoid wearing shorts and skirts to the most.
Best Time to Visit Charminar
From the weather’s point of view, October to March is the best time to visit Charminar and Hyderabad as well. During the rest of the year, the temperature in Hyderabad gets very high, making it difficult to roam openly, especially during the sunlight hours.
Do not plan your Charminar visit on Fridays and Islamic festivals if you want to avoid the rush. Saturdays and Sundays at Charminar, too, get very crowded.
Things To Do In and Around Charminar, Hyderabad
- Mecca Masjid
- Chowmahalla Palace
- Laad Bazaar
- Ghansi Bazaar
- Salar Jung Museum
- Nehru Zoological Park
- Jai Maajisa Jalebi & Khara Shop
- Hotel Shadab
- Nimrah Cafe & Bakery
- Govind Dosa
Pro Tip: Finding clean public washrooms can be a task around Charminar. It is better to access cafés or hotels for the same.