Hyderabad is most famous for its charming minarets
- the Charminar. The city is often identified
with the majestic Charminar, which stands at the
center of the old city in its entire splendour
amidst the colourful shops of Lad Bazaar with
its glittering traditional bangles. Often called
"The Arc de triomphe of the East", Charminar is
a beautiful structure with four intricately carved
minarets. Enormous in its size, this imposing
monument exudes a charm that is more than 400
years old. Many people know Charminar as a historical
monument constructed by Mohammad Quli Qutub
Shah in 1591. But there are many historical
facts that are associated with this great monument.
With the restoration work of the Charminar in
full swing many interesting facts about it are
coming to light.
Hyderabad's oldest mosque: Tucked away
on the second floor of the Charminar is the oldest
mosque in the city. Constructed by Mohammad Quli
Qutub Shah in 1590-91, the mosque lies at the
western end of the monument and is considered
to be one of the most beautiful mosques the Qutub
Shahi artisans ever built. There are 45 prayer
spaces with a large open space in front of the
mosque. Built with lime, mortar and granite, every
section of the mosque is exquisitely carved. The
Mehrab, from where the Imam leads the prayer is
made of black stone and is intricately designed
and neatly polished representing traditional Islamic
architecture There are forty arches in the mosque
on all sides.
of the Nizams:
Charminar was the official insignia of the erstwhile
Hyderabad state. Besides using it in several official
documents, it was extensively used in the currency
which mostly consisted of gold, silver and copper
coins. The monument as it looks from the Eastern
side from the Kotla Alijah road was engraved on
all the coins while giving the details like the
year of mintage and the initial of the ruler.
The use of the coins bearing Charminar continued
till the merger of the erstwhile Hyderabad state
with the Indian union in 1948.
The original name of Charminar
was 'Madarsa'(School). It was only at the end
of Qutub Shahi period in 1687 that the monument
became popular as Charminar. Charminar has the
distinction of being the first school in the entire
Qutub Shahi kingdom. It is believed Arabic &
Persian were the main subjects that were taught
in the Madarsa. The book "Landmarks of the
Deccan" written by SA Asgar Bilgrami, former
Director of Archeology and the then Assistant
Secretary to Nizam's Government has a mention
about a school that was run on the first floor
of the Charminar. Quoting Monsier Thevenot, a
French traveller, Bilgrami wrote, "In
the Qutub Shahi period the first storey was used
as 'Madarsa' and the cubicles were used by the
students." With the setting up of several
'Madarsas' in the city, probably the 'Madarsa'
of Charminar lost its importance and with the
end of Qutub Shahi dynasty, imparting of education
was stopped there. Subsequently, the Charminar
lost its original name as 'Madarsa'.
It is a common belief in the old city that anyonecarrying
a replica or picture of the Charminar will be
lucky. It is a belief as old as the monument.
Historians believe that the Charminar was built
to mark the end of plague in the city. A stone
on the Southeast end of the Charminar is believed
to bring luck. Visitors used to touch the stone
believing its good fortune would rub off on them.
Later the Bhagyalaxmi temple was constructed on
the same place. Similar beliefs are associated
with coins bearing the Charminar insignia. According
to 75 year old Suresh Agarwal of Hussaini Alam,
people having such a coin will never become poor.
The belief was so strong among Marwari families
that they preserved 'Charminar' coins though they
went out of circulation in 1948.
One of the four Minarets not original: One
of the four minarets of the Charminar is not original.
It broke into pieces after being struck by lightning
in 1707 AD, but was later reconstructed in a way
that no one can differentiate it from the other
three minarets. Though all the features of the
broken minaret - The South-West one facing the
Mecca Masjid were restored, the architecture probably
failed to maintain the same quality of construction
due to which the minaret has developed cracks.