The Arc de Triomphe of the East

CharminarThe contrast between the ancient and the somewhat modern is staggering. The Charminar minarets tower above the markets serving as an absolute stunning landmark that gathers hundreds by the day.

The Charminar was built as a mosque during the time Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutb Shahi dynasty moved the capital from Golconda to Hyderabad, he built it to commemorate the end of a plague that was ravaging his city to uphold a promise he made to Allah. In the year 1591 as he was laying the foundation for the building he prayed a very simple prayer, “Oh Allah, bestow unto this city peace and prosperity. Let millions of men of all castes, creeds and religions make it their abode, like fish in the water.” 

The Charminar is an impressive monument that lies in the heart of the old city and is a centre point for all peoples. 149 tights and winding stairs lead up to the minarets and provide a spectacular view of the old city. The designs and detail on the minarets are simply marvellous; it shows that despite the lack of machine and modern day tools, the Sultan was still able to create something magnificent using granite and lime mortar.

It was fascinating to discover that the Charminar was not only home to a mosque yet at the base of the Charminar sat a temple that dates back to the mosque itself. Muslims rush towards their evening prayers as the Hindus flood towards to the temple for puja, the bend of these two giant religions is completely harmonious.

The name Charminar comes from a blend of languages to mimic the variety of people who visit the Charminar. Char comes from Hindi and Persian which means four and refers to the four minarets, and minar comes from Arabic (manara) which means spirals.

The Charminar is a time machine, the view from the summit offers a fantastic view of the old city, where the old high court juts out and looks like something straight out of Aladdin. Standing there looking out at Hyderabad, I felt certain that the prayer that Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah had prayed over 400 years ago had been complied.

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