He received a knighthood for services to journalism in 2006, and won two Baftas and several Royal Television Society awards - including one in 1997 for a documentary on the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Mark Damazer, the controller of BBC Radio 4, said Sir Charles was a "magnificent" man who "embodied all that is best in the BBC's journalism".
"He had a brilliant eye and an unequalled ability to convey what he saw and what he knew."
Mr Damazer said Sir Charles's work for Radio 4 over the past decade "demonstrated his astonishing range, dealing with central and eastern Europe, but also - and superbly - with the legacy at home of World War II".
He had been working "almost until he died" on a programme for Radio 4 on the Dalai Lama, Mr Damazer added.
As a reporter Sir Charles had covered the flight of the Dalai Lama after the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1959.
News 'dumbed down'
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband described Sir Charles as "one of the great reporters of the television age".
"With his ability to combine vivid reporting with fearless but fair judgement, he made an unforgettable mark on so many of the great stories of his day."
Sir Charles admitted that he preferred being in the field to doing studio work
In recent years, Sir Charles was critical of the direction of modern broadcasting.
He claimed in 2000 that television news was "dumbing down" and said the BBC had "lost its way with news".
He met his future wife, Dip Singh, during his four-year posting in Delhi. They married in 1962 and had two daughters.
One of them, Shirin, works in Brussels for the BBC as a correspondent on European politics.
The other, Marina, is a lawyer and is the wife of London's mayor, Boris Johnson.
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