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The Charminar was built in 1591 AD on the eastern bank of the River Musi by the erstwhile ruler Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah to mark the end of the plague. The west side of one of the four minarets turns its face to Mecca, and it houses the oldest surviving functioning mosque in the city.
Like its historical counterpart the Purana Pul, the oldest bridge in the city that defied the flooding of the Musi in 1908 and is now a busy market place, the Charminar marks the events and histories of bygone times. Both the Charminar and Purana Pul are beloved landmarks of the city.
The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) has placed the Charminar on its precious monuments list. It's historic antique markets, food stalls, crowds, and special bazaar culture has fused it inseparably with Hyderabad's skyline. The Charminar, or Four Minarets, with 149 winding steps that lead into each tower, actually predates the old city itself. It was built 400 years ago at the centre of the trading hub dominated by the powerful merchants of Golkonda for the purpose of creating a link with the old trading port of Masulipatnam, or Masula, which is modern day Machilipatnam. This smart trade design facilitated the ease of doing business in terms of transport, unloading of merchandise, and swift financial dealings with the merchants before the goods were sent on their way.
It was only later that the old capital of Hyderabad was built - and it was designed to encircle the Charminar, making it the crown jewel of the city.
The predominantly Indo-Islamic architecture style, constructed with the materials of the day (a fine compound of granite, limestone, mortar and crushed marble) was pleasantly embellished with a flourish of Persian architectural sensibilities which bestowed balustrades, balconies and stucco art on the two storied structure.