The Charminar is a monument and mosque located on the banks of the Musi River in the Indian city of Hyderabad. The structure is more than 400 year old as it was built in 1591 CE by the ruler Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. Over the centuries, it has become one of the most recognized monuments in India and an iconic symbol of Hyderabad.
Here are some interesting facts about the Charminar.
• The name Charminar translates as ‘the four minarets’ or towers. ‘Char’ translates as four and ‘minar’ is a minaret or tower. The monument has four minarets. Unlike the free standing minarets of the Taj Mahal, the four minarets of the Charminar are a part of the main structure.
• Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty in the Deccan, built the Charminar in his new capital of Hyderabad after moving from Golconda. Today, this city is the capital of the new Indian state of Telangana.
• The Charminar commemorates the end of a plaque that was widespread and had caused many deaths in the city. The Sultan promised to make the mosque at the spot where he had prayed for the end of the deadly disease.
• Not much credence is given by scholars to the folklore of the Sultan having built the monument at the spot he first saw Bhagmati, who he is said to have married in 1589 CE and given the title of Hyder Mahal.
• The Charminar came up at the intersection of the trade route connecting his old capital Golconda with the port of Machillipatnam.
• The Sultan was also a poet. On laying the foundations of the Charminar, he is said to have recited a couplet which translates as “Fill this city with people as Thou hast filled the river with fishes O Lord”.
• The Charminar has a square shape with each of the four sides being 20 meters long. There are four minarets and four huge arches, each arch opening to 4 streets. The structure is of four storeys.
• There are 45 prayer spaces in the Charminar. These are in addition to the mosque.
• The minarets are 56 meters high. One of the towers was struck by lightning and repaired at a cost of Rs. 60,000 somewhere between the Qutb Shahi and Asaf Jahi dynasties.
• By design, the Charminar was meant to be the centre of the old city of Hyderabad. During its best days, the market around Charminar is said to have had about 14,000 shops.
• Four clocks facing the four cardinal directions were added in 1889.
• It is thought that a secret tunnel links the Charminar to Golconda fort. The exact location of the tunnel is unknown till today despite all the modern tools of technology at our disposal. It was probably for the safe evacuation of the rulers in times of danger or during an extended siege.
• A smaller sized replica of the Charminar exists in Karachi. It was built in 2007 by Pakistan’s Hyderabadi Muslims.