The Charminar is to Hyderabad what the Taj is to Agra or the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. This towering monument cum mosque with four minarets and open arches boasts of a history of over 400 years and stands as the finest example of the city’s heritage and architectural legacy. Located in the heart of Hyderabad, it remains surrounded by a lively market place and is a top attraction for travelers visiting the city. The Charminar is certainly one of those heritage structures you must explore once you step out of your hotels in Hyderabad for a session of sightseeing.

Want to know more about this historical monument in Hyderabad? Read on to know everything about the Charminar, including its history, entry fee, timings, and other interesting details.

Charminar Quick Info

Location Hyderabad, Telangana
Timings 9:00 am to 5:30 pm; every day
Entry Fee ₹ 5 for Indians; ₹ 100 for foreigners
Still and Video Camera Free
Type Mosque and monument
Year of Construction 1591
Commissioned by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of Qutb Shahi dynasty
Architectural Style Indo-Islamic with influences from the Persian architectural style
Architect Mir Momin Astarawadi
Material Used Limestone, granite, pulverized marble, and mortar
Status Monument under the Archeological Survey of India
Cost of Construction 9 lakh rupees

Charminar: History

The Charminar was established more than four centuries ago by the fifth Sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, namely Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah. He commissioned the construction of this grand mosque in the year 1591 after he shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad, which was a newly formed city.  

There are several theories as to why Qutub Shah constructed this towering mosque right in the middle of his new capital. According to some historians, the Sultan was forced to shift his capital due to the epidemic of cholera that was killing thousands of his subjects at that time. He prayed to the Almighty and vowed to construct a mosque if the misery of his people came to an end. The Charminar was built to honor this pledge once cholera was eradicated from the city.

Another school of thought believes that Quli Qutub Shah constructed the mosque and founded the city of Hyderabad to mark the start of the second Islamic millennium year, which was a significant event in the Islamic world at that time. Since the structure was adorned with four lofty minarets on its four sides, it came to be known as Charminar, which means ‘Four Towers’ in Urdu.

With a history that is as old as the city of Hyderabad, the structure has stood the test of time but it has also undergone some damages and renovations along the way. During the governorship of Asaf Jahi and Qutb Shahi, the minaret on the southwest was damaged by lightning and was later repaired. The monument was given a fresh coat of plaster in 1824 at a cost of around one lakh rupees. In 1889, four clocks brought from London were added to the four arches by Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad.

Currently, the monument is under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India who is in charge of its protection and maintenance.

Charminar  Architecture

Designed by an Iranian architect settled in Hyderabad named Mir Momin Astarawadi, the grand edifice exhibits the Indo-Islamic style of architecture with influences drawn from the Persian style. The structure is made of limestone, granite, pulverized marble, and mortar and weighs around 14,000 tonnes.

The Charminar features a perfectly square-shaped structure that is 20 meters long on each side. Four grand arches and four exquisite minarets placed at the four corners lend the monument a distinctive look. Each of the minarets is four-storied, 56 meters tall, has a double balcony, and features a dome-shaped structure on its top. There are 149 steps leading to the upper floor of the monument from where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city and the surrounding marketplace.

The Charminar is adorned with stucco decorations and lavish balustrades and balconies. There is also a mosque situated on a portion of the open roof of the structure.  While one part of the Charminar’s roof served as a mosque, the remaining area was used to hold the court during the reign of Sultan Qutb Shahi.

Charminar: Today

Today, the Charminar is not just one of the top historical places to visit in Hyderabad but also one of the most recognized monuments in the whole country. It is surrounded by a vibrant market called Chudi Bazar or Laad Bazar, where you can feel the pulsating vibes of the city. The age-old mosque atop the Charminar is functional even today. Several festivals are celebrated at this landmark monument, including the Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

The Charminar is illuminated for a while every evening and standing against the dark sky, it makes for a stunning sight to behold. The structure is listed under archaeological and architectural treasures by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Charminar has also been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ tentative list.

Lesser Known Facts about Charminar 

  • The Charminar is also known as the ‘Arc de Triomphe of the East’ due to its architecture that is as impressive as the renowned Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • According to popular beliefs, the four minarets of the Charminar were built to represent the four khalifas or prophets of Islam.
  • It is believed that there exists an underground tunnel that connects the Charminar to the Golconda Fort which was meant to be an escape route for the royal family if the city came under a siege. The location of the tunnel, however, is not known.
  • As a tribute to this spectacular monument, Lindt chocolatier Adelbert Boucher created its replica using chocolate in 2010, which weighed about fifty kilograms.
  • In 1687, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb invaded the city, he ordered the destruction of most of the buildings but spared the Charminar because of the mosque located on its top floor.
  • There is a train that is named after the Charminar – the Charminar Express – that operates between Chennai and Hyderabad.
  • The structure is featured on the Emblem of Telangana.

Attractions near Charminar

  • Gulza Houz (230 m)
  • Laad Bazar (450 m)
  • Char Kaman (600 m)
  • Nizam Museum (1 km)
  • Mecca Masjid (1 km)
  • Chowmahalla Palace (1.4 km)
  • Salar Jung Museum (2 km)
  • ISKCON Temple (2.4 km)
  • Koti Residency (4.3 km)
  • Paigah Tombs (4.4 km)
  • Nehru Zoological Park (5.9 km)
  • Toli Masjid (6.1 km)

Things to Do in Charminar Area

The area that surrounds the minarets, which is called the Charminar area, is where you can find some of the finest street grubs and shopping options in Hyderabad. The top eateries and shopping places in the Charminar area include:

  • Laad Bazar for bangles, jewelry, dupattas
  • Pathar Gatti for pearls
  • Perfume Market for local perfumes
  • Akbar Fast Food Corner for chicken 65, warqi paratha, rumali roti
  • Pista House for mutton biriyani, haleem, kheer, Hyderabadi biriyani
  • Nimrah Café and Bakery for Irani chai, Osmania biscuits, sulemani
  • Shadab Hotel for haleem, kebabs, falooda, nihari, paya, qubani ka meetha
  • Shah Ghouse for mutton haleem, boti kebabs, khichdi kheema, phirni, mutton biriyani, Hyderabadi chicken biriyani

Once you are done soaking in the beauty of the splendid Charminar, make your way to any of these places to eat and shop around a bit or carry on exploring the other historical places in Hyderabad. Finally, wrap up your day by digging into the famous Hyderabadi biryani that is sure to leave you drooling for more.