Romancing the Charminar, the icon of Hyderabad
No mention of Hyderabad is complete without evoking the image of Charminar. With its four stately minarets, the structure is the centre of the Old City of Hyderabad and is surrounded by historic buildings including mosques and markets. Built in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, scion of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, the Charminar was intended to be the centre of the city of Hyderabad. Qutb Shah constructed the monument in gratitude to Allah for cutting short a plague epidemic in the Old City.
In recent times the Bhagyalakshmi Temple abutting the Charminar has become a subject of controversy. A leading Indian newspaper published a vintage photograph showing that the temple did not exist initially, although a local legend supports its presence. The legend holds that Qutb Shah had a dalliance with a Hindu courtesan named Bhagmati and named the city Bhagyanagar after her, and that the courtesan later converted to Islam and took the name Hyder Mahal, and the city in turn was named Hyderabad after her.
The area surrounding the monument is also known by the name of Charminar and is the heart of heritage Hyderabad.