There are dream destinations and then there is Andhra Pradesh. A state that offers everything from amazing beaches to serene lakes, dense forests to dynastic forts, delectable seafood to rich Biryani, historic places to sanctuaries, shopping zones to parks, you will find it all. Andhra Pradesh is the fifth largest state in India and the largest in South India. It has the royal, rustic, romantic Hyderabad city in it, which gives one an enchanting glance at history.
Founded in 1591, the history of Hyderabad is rooted in romance. Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutub Shahi dynasty fell in love with Bhagyamati, a Banjara (tribal) girl and married her. Initially the city was called Bhagyanagar, but after her conversion to Islam she became Hyder Mahal, hence the present name Hyderabad. To the modern tourist, Hyderabad offers unrivalled excitement and excellent entertainment that includes Heritage, Nature, Wildlife, Cultural and Shopping sites. The hospitality at Hyderabad is unmatched and the laid-back Nawabi style of living is very relaxing. The range of yummy foods, the availability of various types of accommodation, the plethora of places to visit, astounding and affordable shopping options offering pearls, gems, handicrafts, fabrics, garments, branded merchandise and the different colours of culture & festivals make Hyderabad one of the most memorable tourist destinations. Today, let us have a look at the famous Charminar in Hyderabad.
Taj Mahal in Agra, Eiffel Tower in Paris are all signature monuments of their respective places. For Hyderabad, that signature monument is Charminar. It was built in the year 1591 AD and since then has been a tower of inspiration.
Char means 4 and Minar means tower, and as its names suggest Charminar has four towers to it. The eponymous towers are ornate minarets attached and supported by four grand arches. 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. Charminar has the signature style of Islamic architecture. This great tribute to aesthetics looks sturdy and solid from a distance and, as one moves closer, it emerges as an elegant and romantic edifice proclaiming its architectural eminence in all its detail and dignity.
Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty built Charminar in 1591 AD, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golconda to what is now known as Hyderabad. He built this famous structure to commemorate the elimination of a plague epidemic from this city. He is said to have prayed for the end of a plague that was ravaging his city and vowed to build a masjid (Islamic mosque) at the very place where he was praying.
The Charminar is a square edifice with each side 20 meters long, with four grand arches each facing a cardinal point that open into four streets. At each corner stands an exquisitely shaped minaret, 56 meters high with a double balcony. Each minaret is crowned by a bulbous dome with dainty petal like designs at the base. A beautiful mosque is located at the western end of the open roof and the remaining part of the roof served as a court during the Qutub Shahi times. There are 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor. Once atop, the solitude and serenity of the beautiful interior is refreshing. The space in the upper floor between the minarets was meant for Friday prayers. There are forty-five prayer spaces.
The structure is made of granite, limestone, and 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 Golconda to Charminar, possibly intended as an escape route for the Qutub Shahi rulers in case of a siege, though the location of the tunnel is unknown.
In its heyday, the Charminar market had some 15,000 shops. Today the famous markets known as Laad Bazaar and Pather Gatti, near the Charminar, are a favour, of tourists and locals alike for jewellery, especially known for exquisite bangles and pearls respectively. The Traditional Food, like Biryani, Haleem, Mirchi ka salan, Double Ka Meetha etc. is available around Charminar. The area is also famous for its variety of shops. During the season of Sankranthi, the area is completely crowded with vendors selling kites.
The best time to go to Charminar and Hyderabad is during the winter months from October to March, as the weather is pleasant there. One can visit the Charminar any time in the day, though ideally the best time to get a view of the monument is in the evening when the Charminar is illuminated both inside and outside. The Charminar is open on all days from nine in the morning to five in the evening.
Hyderabad is very well connected by trains, road and airports to major cities. On reaching Hyderabad, one can easily hire a bus or a taxi to go around.
Once you are in Hyderabad, you will get to bask in the mesmerizing fragrance of musky Attars (perfumes), appetizing aromas from Tandoors (ovens), Dekchis (huge pots), brewing Irani Chai (tea), teeming crowds flowing in and out of twisting, narrow by lanes. Hyderabad is a vibrant city with history and beauty mixed together. Do, visit the Charminar whenever you are in Hyderabad.