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Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh in Southern India, located on the banks of the Musi River and on the Deccan Plateau. Hyderabad today stands as one of the most rapidly growing cities of India. This almost 400-year old city with its natural beauty, mosques and minarets, bazaars, bridges and lakes is rightfully referred to as a link between the north and the south, and a meeting place of the east and the west.

Once abandoned by Qutub Shahis, Golconda Fort is one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India. Seated on a hill on one side and spiraling fort on the other, its location and internal design made it one of the strongest forts in India. Golkonda consists of four distinct forts with an outer wall, eight gateways, four drawbridges, and a number of royal apartments, temples, mosques, and stables inside. The lowest point of the fort is the Fateh Darwaza (victory gate), studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down), and located near the south-eastern corner. It is at this gate that visitors may experience one of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. When you clap your hands at the entrance the sound reverberates and can be heard clearly at the Bala Hisar pavilion, the highest point of the fort, almost a kilometer away. This worked as a warning system in case of an attack.

The Charminar, which is the prime attraction of the city, has four wide roads radiating in the four cardinal directions. The four minarets command the landscape for miles. The structure is square, each side measuring 100 feet, with a central pointed high arch at the center. The whole edifice contains a number of small decorative arches arranged both vertically and horizontally. A beautiful mosque is located at the western end of the open roof and the remaining part of the roof served as a court during the Qutb Shahi times. There are 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor which provides a panoramic view of the city. The monument overlooks another beautiful and grand mosque called Makkah Masjid. The area surrounding Charminar is also known by same name. A thriving market still lies around the Charminar, attracting both tourists and locals alike. Many of the merchants specialize in jewelry, particularly bangles and pearls.

Makkah Masjid is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad and one of the largest mosques in India. Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, thus giving the mosque its name. It formed the centerpiece around which the city was planned. The main hall of the mosque is 75 feet high, 220 feet wide and 180 feet long, enough to accommodate ten thousand worshippers at a time. Fifteen arches support the roof of the main hall, five on each of the three sides. At the peak of the minarets flanking the mosque is an arched gallery and above that a dome and a spire. Inscriptions from the Qur'an adorn many of the arches and doors. The main structure of the mosque is sandwiched between two massive octagonal columns made out of a single piece of granite. The cornices running around the entire mosque structure and the floral motifs and friezes over the arches remind the tourist of the great attention paid to detail in Qutub Shahi architecture. They have a close resemblance to the arches at Charminar and Golkonda Fort.



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