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Charminar – Ramzan 2012

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Architecture · Daily Life · Monument

Charkaman – Introduction

The text below is an excerpt from an article published in the Hindu titled Glory of the Gates – http://www.hindu.com/mp/2004/03/10/stories/2004031000490300.htm. The following posts will talk about the four arches that stand in front of the Charminar.
When the fifth Qutb Shahi poet-king, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah conceived the plan for the new city of Bhagyanagar – later Hyderabad – a few miles from the overcrowded Golconda Fort town, he wanted it to be “a replica of paradise, unequalled in the world”.

Among the chroniclers of the time, some described it as mythical, some saw in it a poetic metaphor – the Sultan being the first Urdu poet to boast of a diwan – and yet others, that he really meant it. After all, sultans dream big and this section of chroniclers vouch that he came close to achieving it at least in creating that aura. The piazza, gardens, fountains, boulevards, palaces, sarais all set to a grand scale lent the city a breathtaking image in the late 16th Century, leaving a lasting impression on foreign travellers and traders who visited the city. For Abul Kasim Ferishta (1570-1623), who came after seeing the great Mughal cities of Agra and Lahore, there was “no city as grand and as impressive as Hyderabad”. French traders and travellers like Tavernier and Thevenot had similar impressions.

The city’s plan itself looked mythical. In tune with the Sultan’s imagination, the city was planned on a “grid-iron” pattern in the form of a giant double cross with two main intersecting roads, 60 feet wide running north-south and east-west. The intersection of two main roads, marked the city centre where Charminar was built in 1591, the city’s enduring landmark. Giving shape to the Sultan’s dream plan was his trusted poet – prime minister, Mir Momin Ashtrabadi, who introduced elements of his native Iranian city of Isfahan.

After the completion of Charminar, about 250 feet to its north, the great piazza of four lofty arches known as Char Kaman was built in 1592, in perfect symmetrical scale. These arches are separated from their centre by 375 feet and the space between two arches facing each other is 750 feet. The dimension of each of these arches is simply gigantic. Each of them is 60 feet high, 36 feet wide at the base and six feet in thickness. So imposing are they that in the past a huge caparisoned elephant carrying a canopy could easily pass through them. The effort that might have gone into their building was stupendous. The Char Kaman and the Charminar formed part of a “conscious urban design scheme of the Qutb Shahis. One cannot be separated from the other”.

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Architecture · Heritage · Monument

Curiosity

The residents and caretakers of a heritage monument usually make the visit memorable. The herd here seem to have made this monument their home. This fella seemed to be very curious with a camera and followed me till he was sure I wasn’t doing anything strange!

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Architecture · Heritage · Monument · People

Mahboob Chowk Mosque

Mahboob Chowk is  slightly ahead of the Lad Bazaar area, and gets its name from the Nizam VI Mahboob Ali Pasha. It has a clock tower and mosque beyond it. The shops near the clock tower sell metallic decorative pieces, locks, tools, books.  The mosque was built in 1817 and has a definite old world character. The mosque is situated on the top floor, and at the lower level there are many shops that sell fruits, and food, naan and kebabs. The expenses of mosque are met by the rent paid by these vendors to the mosque committee. This is a tradition that has continued for many years.

On a days leading upto Eid-ul-Fitr,  I was in search of a place where an iftar party would occur and asked a few shop owners at Lad Bazaar. They informed me of a few places but the closest was at Mahboob Chowk mosque. I went to the mosque at the specified time and climbed the flight of stairs after asking if it was alright to do so. As I reached the topmost step I looked around to ask once again (just to be doubly sure).  A gentleman took my query and just as he was about to answer, the mosque lit up and he was awe -struck and gasped “mashaallaah”. As a monument, the mosque is neither huge nor grand in comparison to many others in the vicinity. But the festive mood and the time of the day(twilight) in addition to the illumination made it all the more charming. I took a few shots -(but I am yet to see a photograph that can give you goose-bumps). After I took a few pictures at the start of the Iftar party, I was invited to join them. Not quite sure if I should, I politely thanked them. They insisted I accept at least the dates. (Dates are often eaten to break the fast during Ramazan) I accepted, said my silent prayers and was grateful for the experience. Some experiences do not need a camera to document, and sometimes a camera is not capable of documenting entirely.

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Architecture · Heritage

Nothing new to say about the famed monument that hasn’t been said before.

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