16 May, 2021

Mushroom Minarette

The ‘shrine’ by the Charminar offended for years as the city’s heritage bosses didn’t react

Madhavi Tata
Mushroom Minarette

It has been for Hyderabad what India Gate is for Delhi and the Howrah Bridge is for Calcutta, a symbol of the city’s rich heritage. The 56-metre-tall Charminar, built in the late 16th century, graces almost every brochure about Hyderabad; the area around it is described as a bargain-seeker’s paradise. Now, it has become ground zero for the city’s latest communal conflict. The bone of contention is the small temple constructed beside the Charminar, and abutting on one of its four minars. 

Even in 2010, the temple was much smaller, the police presence minimal. The structure, with its surrounding bamboo poles and canopy, is difficult to miss now, and a police checkpost tells of the simmering tension in the area. Large trees that flanked the Charminar police station and kept it out of view have been cut down, as if to afford a better field of view and deter trouble-mongers. Small traders like Sheikh Abdul Ghani say the Bhagyalakshmi temple’s size has increased over the last one-and-half years: “Woh grill aur canopy, lakdi, poore dedh saal...

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