Mon. Jun 27th, 2022

Bhopal is a city centered around lakes-the Upper Lake and Lower Lake-with part of the city located on the slopes of the Shyamla Hills. Though named after the medieval ruler, Raja Bhoj, today’s Bhopal was developed by Dost Mohammed Khan, an erstwhile general of Aurangzeb. During the 1700s, he carved out his own kingdom following the decline of the Mughul Empire. Bhopal was planned by him as a city with wide roads, gardens and monumental buildings. A succession of rulers, with the hereditary title of Nawab, ruled over Bhopal from the 1740s to the 1840s. It was in the regime of Nawab Sir Hamidullah Khan post 1947 that the city was finally acceded to the Union of India.

To most, Bhopal is synonymous with the infamous gas tragedy, one of the greatest industrial disasters in the world. This tragedy set the clock back on the city and its residents, shifting the focus from its grandeur and erstwhile status as a pricely state to a city of gas leak survivors. The Bhopal Museum details the gas tragedy complete with pictures and artefacts.

Bhopal today comprises two major city centres-the old city to the north of the lakes has bustling markets, mosques and palatial buildings, while the modern city to the south of the lake has upmarket residential neighbourhoods, shopping and business areas, hotels, restaurants and educational institutions.

For many visitors, the city is just a little more than a base to visit the World Heritage Site of Sanchi or a place to stopover before journeying further into Madhya Pradesh. However, Bhopal is worth a couple of days stay to see a range of attractions from majestic mosques to excellent museums.

Van Vihar National Park

This large wooded park, along the Upper Lake, offers a spectacular setting for a zoological park which has naturalistic-looking enclosures for tiger, lion, sloth bear, striped hyena, crocodiles and other carnivores.

Bhojpur temples

Located on sandstone ridges typical of Madhya Pradesh, next to a deep gorge on the Betwa River, Bhojpur was the seat of Bhopal’s founder, Raja Bhoj, a Parmar Rajput who ruled Malwa in the 11th century.

Prehistoric art at Bhimbetka

In a picturesque location within massive sandstone outcrops of the Vindhyan hills near Bhopal, the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site of Bhimbetka has clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that appear to…

State Museum

Being the capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal has one of the best museums in the state showcasing archaeological finds from different districts. Though as a concept, museums are said to have been conceived under the Begums..

Birla Museum

This museum is part of the Birla Mandir complex which holds a Lakshmi Narayan Temple and a shrine to Shiva-Parvati. This is one of about 14 temples built by the Birla families at different places and was built to fill a….

Bharat Bhavan

The cultural heart of Bhopal, the Charles Correa designed campus of Bharat Bhavan was part of an Indira Gandhi-led initiative to set up centres for arts in state capitals, but this was was the only noteworthy one.

Museum of Man

The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangralaya, well-known as Museum of Man or National Museum of Mankind, is one of the best museums in India for those seeking an insight into its many cultures. The museum sprawls over.

The Chowk

Called the Chowk, the old market square of Bhopal was once famous for “zarda, purdah, garda and namarda” (tobacco, veils, dust and eunuchs), but today it is worth walking down streets lined with jarokhas

Taj ul Masajid

The most impressive monument of Bhopal, the Darul Uloom Tajul Masajid is one of the biggest mosques in India. It is a striking pinkish red sandstone building with a trio of white bulbous domes over a long facade flanked …

By Amit Kumar

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