Bhopal - the Lake City or the City of Lakes is the second largest city and the capital of Madhya Pradesh, situated around two artificial lakes amidst picturesque settings. Bhopal was built on the site of a 11th century city, 'Bhojapal', founded by the legendary king, Raja Bhoja. The existing city was developed by Dost Mohammed (1708-1740) one of Emperor Aurangazeb's Afghan governors. His progeny, including efficient women rulers ruled Bhopal until 1947 when the state finally joined the Indian Union.
Sprawl over an area of 549 square kilometers, Bhopal city is sited on an elevation of 427 m above the sea level. Bhopal is an enchanting combination of scenic beauty, old historic city and modern urban planning. The old city with its crowded market places, fine old mosques and palaces intermingles the new city with the broad avenues, high rise offices and exquisitely laid out parks and gardens.
Bhopal is famous for the UNESCO World heritage site named Bhimbetka - the rock shelters which is believed to be the early evidence of Stone Age rock paintings. The city is famous for silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions. Endowed with numerous educational institutions and installations, Bhopal city is an important educational, industrial, economic and political center of the State as well as Central India.
PLACES TO VISIT
JAMA MASJID :
Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum.
The Taj-ul-Masjid is one of the largest mosques in Asia, built by Nawab Shahjehan Begum around a courtyard with a large tank in the centre and with an imposing double storeyed gate-way with 4 recessed archways and 9 imposing cusped multifoiled openings in the main prayer hall. The Quibla wall in the prayer hall is carved with 11 recessed arches, while the mimber is made of black basalt.The structure is enlivened by the limpid expanse of water in the tank outside the northern wall. The monumentality of this structure was much greater originally when it faced the towering bastions of the Fatehgarh Fort. A three-day Ijtima congregation held here annually draws people from all over the country.
MOTI MASJID :
Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikander Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.
SHAUKAT MAHAL AND SADAR MANZIL :
Situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city, Shaukat Mahal is an architectural curiosity. Its mixture of styles in Occidental idioms sets it apart from the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. It was designed by a Frenchman, said to be a descendent of an offshoot of the Bourbon Kings of France. Post Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant once-opulent Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience, of the former rulers of Bhopal.
GOHAR MAHAL :
Situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake is Gohar Mahal, which is an architectural gem dating back to the times of Kudsia Begum, also known as Gohar Begum, who built this sprawling palace in 1820. The Mahal is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
BHARAT BHAWAN :
One of the most unique national institutes in India, Bharat Bhawan is a centre for the performing and visual arts. Designed by renowned architect, Charles Correa, the contours of Bharat Bhawan merge in exquisite harmony with the landscape creating a visual impact of spacious and natural elegance. The centre houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theater, indoor and outdoor auditoria, a rehearsal room and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. Open from 2 pm to 8 pm every day except Mondays.
INDIRA GANDHI RASHTRIYA MANAV SANGRAHALAYA (A POST COLONIAL MUSEUM) :
The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Mankind) is a unique Museum, spread over 200 acres of undulating land on the Shamla Hills on the Upper Lake front. It is situated in a prehistoric site and may be the only museum in the world strewn with numerous prehistoric painted rock shelters. It is a post-colonial museum of communities rather than objects, dedicated to in situ revitalisation of local knowledge systems and life enhancing traditions rather than ex situ display of objects. It is engaged in recollection rather than collection. The museum display has been curated directly by the folk and tribal communities, camping at site, to create a miniature presentation of Indian folk ways through display of eco-specific habitations & subsistence practices in the tribal, coastal, desert, and Himalayan habitats. The library, audio-visual archive, computerised documentation and the collection of ethnographic specimens in the Museum, though modest in size are among the best in the world.
GOVERNMENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM :
A fine collection of sculptures are on display here from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. Highlights of the collection are: paintings of various schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha. The museum is closed on Mondays.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE AND MUSEUM :
This beautiful temple on the Arera Hills has a Museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsaur and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm every day except Mondays.
VAN VIHAR :
It is the center of attraction for local as well as foreign tourists which is located on a hill near to upper lake in natural surroundings. Wide spread lake water,turning roads,sweet murmurs of birds on the trees,cold waves, peaceful atmosphere and the natural beauty of van vihar give a lot of self enjoyment. Van Vihar is spread over an area of 445 hectares. There are many wild animals like Tiger,Leopard,Panther are a treat to watch.
REGIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE :
Basically a science museum, located on the picturesque Shamala Hills, Regional Science Centre houses about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in ‘Invention’ & ‘Fun Science’ galleries, and a ‘taramandal’ (Planetarium).
The museum remains open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm on all days except Mondays.
In the heart of the city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques, havelis, reminds of a bygone era. The shops in its narrow alleys are treasure troves of traditional Bhopali crafts : silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions.
One thousand years ago ,Bhopal lake was built by late parmar king Bhoj known as Upper lake. There is a saying that once king Bhoj suffered from skin disease. Boat Club View of Upper LakeAll vaidya’s failed to cure him. One day a saint told king Bhoj to Sunset view at Upperlake : Photo Source - Ramsar Convention Bureau (www.samsar.org)build a tank to combine 365 tributaries and than have a bath in it to wipe out the skin disease. As per saints version, king Bhoj called upon his engineers to build up a huge tank. They spotted a place near river Betwa, which was 32 K.M. away from Bhopal. When this was measured , it was found that it has only 359 tributaries . A Gond Commander Kalia fulfilled this shortage. He than gave the address of an invisible river. After merging the tributaries of this river the number 365 was completed. The Upper lake is divided from the Lower by an over bridge and is six sq. km. in area. There are facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle, and motor-boats.
The history of this lake is about two hundred years old. This was built by Chote Khan, A minister in the kingdom of Nabab Hayat Mohd. Khan in the year 1794. Before construction of this lake, there were many wells, which were used to draw water for agricultural and other purposes. But after the construction of the tank all wells merged in this lake. The smaller lake is spread over an area 7.99 square kilometer. A Century and half ago the tank was maximum 11.7 meters and minimum 6.16 meters deep.
It is situated near Raj-Bhavan and old assembly hall. It came into existence on 31st May,1977. Covering one hectare area fish house is built in fish like structure. It attracts visitors a lot. Fish house is a double storey structure. Upper portion has forty glass aquariums, where various species of living and colorful fishes can be seen. In the Fish house you can see Golden Shark,paradise blue,Rosy Barb,King Kobra,Golden plata,Golden Gormi, Tiger Barb,Black Moor and King Zebra.
HOW TO GET HERE
By Air :
Raja Bhoj Airport is the major airport of Bhopal, located around 15 km from the city center in Bairagarh suburban area on National Highway 12. Bhopal which is about 741 km from Delhi, 789 km from Mumbai, and about 200 kms from Indore, is well connected to the metros other cities by Jet Airways, JetLite, Air India, SpiceJet, Aliance Airways, Sahara Airlines etc. Alliance Airways ply regular flights to Mumbai, Indore, Delhi and Gwalior and Sahara Airlines to Delhi, Guwahati,
By Rail :
Bhopal Junction (Station Code : BPL), located near Hamidia Road, is the main railway station of Bhopal that is served by the West Central Railways. It is is on one of the two major Delhi to Mumbai railway lines. Dakshin Express, Punjab Mail, Goa Express, Tirukkural Express, Jhelum Express, Andaman Express, Kushinagar Express and Jaipur Express are the main trains that passes through the station. It is also the terminus of the Shatabdi Express, which daily shuttles between Delhi and Bhopal.
By Road :
Bhopal major bus station is situated close to the Bhopal Junction Railway Station, near Hamidia College. From here Bhopal State Transport Corporation operates deluxe, super fast and passenger buses to Indore(186 km), Mandu(285 km), Ujjain(188 km), Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Gwalior, Sanchi(46 km), Jabalpur(295 km) and Shivpuri. There are no direct services to Mandu; you have to connect through Indore. There are extensive bus services (private and state) to cities within the region and interstate.
Local city buses, taxis, tempos, tongas and auto-rickshaws are available for local transport. Mini buses for TT Nagar leave from front of Surya Hotel every two hours. MP Tourism (transport) has a/c and non a/c cars and coaches.