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Charminar, the edifice of the four minarets, is the legendary masterpiece of the Qutb Shahis. The awesome rectangular structure was built upon four grand arches by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1590-9 I. But the significance and relevance of C’harminar is a subject of endless debates. The plan is a square, each side 20 metres long, while the four arches are II metres wide and rise 20 metres from the plinth. The four- storeyed minarets rise 20 metres from the roof of the massive monument and measure 24 metres from the plinth. The western section of the roof contains a mosque, ranking among the finest the gifted Qutb Shahi artisans ever built. There are 45 prayer spaces with a large open space in front to accommodate more for Friday prayers. To the east of this space is a lovely verandah with a large open arch in the centre , flanked by smaller ones on both sides. The important theories advanced in the debate about the significance of Charminar is that the upper storey was a school, a pumping reservoir for water or simply a gateway. Historian Haroon Khan Sherwani felt that the architect planned the upper storey as a school, while the French traveller Tavernier argued that” all the galleries of Charminar seem to make the water rise so that it could be carried to the higher rooms of the palaces” as water in those days came from the Jalpally reservoir. The third view was that Charminar served as a gateway overlooking a regal piazza on which the gates of the palaces opened. Whatever be the truth, Charminar today is synonymous with Hyderabad’s old-world charm and beauty and connotes Qutb Shahi grandeur to tourists with its spiral stairways

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