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Dark clouds and birds hover over the historic Charminar in Hyderabad. The Charminar is as much the signature of Hyderabad as the Taj Mahal is of Agra or the Eiffel Tower is of Paris. It is a magnificent square edifice of granite, built upon four grand arches facing North, South, East and West. These arches support two floors of rooms and gallery of archways. At each corner of the square structure is a minaret rising to a height of 24 meters, making the building nearly 54 meters tall. It is these four (char) minarets (minar) that give the building, its name Charminar. Each minar stands on a lotus-leaf base, a special recurrent motif in Qutub Shahi buildings.
The first floor was used as a madarasa (college) during the Qutub Shahi period. The second floor has a mosque on the western side, the dome of which is visible from the road, if one stands some distance away. A spectacular view of the city may be had from the roof of the Charminar, although, due to severe overcrowding of the minarets, only visitors with special permission from the Archaeological Survey of India, Hyderabad Circle are allowed to go to the top of the minarets. The clocks above each of the four archways were added in 1889.

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Additional Photos by Sunil Shukla (sunilshukla) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 114 W: 0 N: 119] (844)
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