An identifying feature of the city, Charminar is the most prominent landmark located right in the heart of Hyderabad. The monument was erected by Quli Qutub Shah to signify the founding of Hyderabad. As is evident from the structure, it was so named as it consists of four minarets. Although it lies right in the centre of the city with traffic and crowds milling all about it, Charminar certainly manages to hold the gaze. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it and is called 'Laad' or 'Chudi' Bazaar.

Since the construction of the monument in 1591, Charminar has been synonymous with the culture of Hyderabad standing tall as a reminder of the glorious days of the past era. It is a massive structure which has four minarets which many believe stand for the first four 'khalifas' (Prophets) of Islam. Towards the north of the monument, there are four gateways known as Char Kaman which have been constructed in the cardinal directions. The structure was intended to serve as a Madrasa or a Mosque. In its present form, Charminar, along with Qutub Shahi Tombs and the Golconda Fort, has been added to the 'tentative list' of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History of Charminar

Charminar was built by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty when he shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad. According to the historians, the inadequacy of water and the plague forced Quli Qutub Shahi to move his capital. He pledged to build a monument if the suffering of his people came to an end. The Charminar was built to commemorate the decision and eradication of plague from the city. It is known as Charminar as it is supported by four minarets on four sides which were possibly meant to commemorate the first four caliphs of Islam. The old city of Hyderabad was designed keeping Charminar as the centre of the city.

According to some legends, Quli Qutub Shahi saw his beloved wife, Baghmati, at this very site. He built Charminar as a symbol of his eternal love for his wife. There is also a legend that talks about the existence of a secret tunnel under the Charminar that connects it to the Golkonda Fort. It was created as a means of escape for the royal family in the time of emergencies.

Structure of Charminar

The structure of Charminar is a perfect square, inspired by the shape of the Shiya Tazias, each side 20 meters in length. It has four grand arches that face a fundamental point that open into four streets. There stands a 56 meters tall minaret at each corner with a double balcony. Each minaret has a dome on top with petal like designs at the base. You need to climb 149 steps to reach the upper floor. The structure is made of granite, mortar, marble and limestone. There is a mosque located at the western end of the open roof. You can get a bird's eye view of the city from the balconies of Charminar. The devout people could offer prayers in a very peaceful manner inside the mosque.

The structure of Charminar is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic architecture with Persian influences. The arches and domes of the monument define the influence of Islamic architecture, while the Persian influence is prominent from its minarets. The balconies and the outside walls, embellished with delicate stucco floral ornamentations on the ceiling, showcases the influence of the Hindu style of architecture. The area surrounding the Charminar is also known by the same name, thriving with the most famous market in the city.

Bhagyalakshmi Temple at Charminar

At the base of the Charminar is a small temple called as "Bhagyalakshmi Temple" which has been the centre of controversy for quite some time. Defying the irony of a temple present at one of the major Islamic sites, there have been arguments regarding its age. The Hindu newspaper published an image in 2012 claiming that the temple is not as old as the Charminar. Asserting that it's a recent structure, it clearly stated that no temple existed in the photographs taken of the Charminar in 1957 and 1962. Whether a new addition or an older presence, the Bhagyalaskmi Temple is a fascinating little structure built just at the base of the opulent Charminar.

Shopping at Charminar

Charminar is famous for many things but is most known for the lip smacking dishes and great bargain shopping. There is no better place for shopping in Hyderabad than the area surrounding the Charminar. The streets are brimming with people at all times, with the shops displaying attractive and colourful bangles and jewellery. The market around Charminar never ceases to throb and is famous for its 'Chudi Bazaar' (Market of Bangles). Here you can buy the most colourful jewellery, eat the authentic 'Hyderabadi Biryani', and make your eyes a little prettier with the 'Soorma' - a traditional Kohl made especially in Hyderabad. This is the perfect place to indulge in roadside eateries while filling your shopping bags with little trinkets.

It is the oldest and the main market in the Charminar area. It is popular for bangles, pearls, jewellery, semi-precious stones, silverware, Kalamkari paintings, sarees, silk materials, gold embroidered fabric, lacquer bangles, ittar and the traditional Khara dupatta. This street is filled with people and haggling is part and parcel of this market. The Charminar area is also famous for the delectable food items which are the pride of the Hyderabadi cuisine. While shopping in the crowded streets, you can gorge on the traditional food items available here like Biryani, Mirchi ka Salan, Haleem and Double Ka Meetha. Also, don't forget to sip on the famous Irani Chai.

Timings and Entry Fees

Charminar visiting hours are between 09:30 am and 05:30 pm.

Though Charminar is open on all days of the week, it is best to avoid Fridays since it is the prayer days of the Muslims and the crowds surge to unbelievable proportions.

The Charminar ticket price for Indian travellers and those from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries is INR 25. However, the Charminar entry ticket for foreigner is INR 300. The entry is free for children under the age of 15.

How to Reach Charminar

Charminar is located at a distance of 5 km from the Hyderabad Bus Station. APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) runs regular buses from every part of the city. You can also reach Charminar by hiring an autorickshaw or a taxi from any point in the city.