. Bhopal is a wonderful city in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Being the capital of Madhya Pradesh, it is indeed one of the important cities of the country. However that is not the only talking point about Bhopal. The city has immense archaeological, historical and political importance attached to it. One of the oldest cities in India, it has today emerged as one of the busiest commercial centers.
When speaking about Bhopal, a glance on the history of the old city will enlighten anyone a lot. The origin of the city dates back to the eleventh century when Raja Bhoj founded the Bhojpal City. However the Bhopal of today was built during the eighteenth century by Dost Mohammed. Bhopal has been ruled by several famous dynasties like the Mughals, Rajputs and the Afghans. They have enriched the city's landscape with beautiful monuments, lakes, palaces, temples and mosques. Located in northwest Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal lies in the central part of India. With the two large and beautiful lakes and other places of interest, Bhopal is a great tourism destination.
. Shaukat Mahal exhibits Gothic and post-Renaissance architectural patterns and is a beautiful amalgamation of both oriental and occidental architectural styles.Thought to be designed by a Frenchman, it is strikingly different from the other Muslim monuments in its vicinity, especially with the triangular arches that adorn its roof. The white exterior of the building, carved with exquisite floral patterns, makes it stand out amongst all the antique monuments of Bhopal.
It is situated at the Chowk area in the city. It is an odd mix of Indo-Islamic and European styles of architecture.Made of beautiful white alabaster, Shaukat Mahal features a series of complicated triangular-shaped arches on the ceiling. The exterior walls of this palace are adorned with delicate floral patterns for an eco-friendly appearance. Shaukat Mahal once served as the palace of the Nawab of Bhopal. Adjoining the palace is a brick-red building of Sadar Manzil that once served as the hall of public audience and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
. Situated along the banks of the Upper Lake, Gohar Mahal, even though not entirely well maintained, still manages to maintain its majestic look and the past glory. One of the beautiful palaces in Bhopal, it was built by the first woman ruler of Bhopal, Gohar Begum. This palace was constructed in the year 1820, and is truly an architectural marvel, presenting a perfect blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
Bhopal Taj Mahal
. Another contribution from the kings and queens of Bhopal, Bhopal Taj Mahal was constructed as a residence place of Begum and was initially known as Raj Mahal. The construction started in 1871 and got completed in 1884 and after the completion, there was a 3-year long celebration, known as Jashn-e-Taj Mahal. It is one of the most famous historical sites in town and hence don't miss visiting the place when you are here.
. Sanchi is a small town on the outskirts of Bhopal, situated around 48 km from the capital city. The town comes under the district of Vidisha. Sanchi is the living example of visions and beliefs of Emperor Ashoka. It is scattered with numerous Buddhist structures like pillars and stupas.Although the city is world known for these Buddhist sites, Sanchi does not have great significance or consequence in Buddhist history, though it is now considered as a pilgrimage town due to the monasteries that are present here. Emperor Ashoka came here and married the daughter of a local merchant. Sanchi thus became his center and he carried out the construction of many buildings. The Ashoka Pillar and the Great Sanchi stupa are the most exquisite works of that time. The Stupas were the earliest forms of Buddhist architecture that were the inspiration for many other buildings.
Along with the historical buildings, don't forget to visit the archaeological museum. It showcases the renowned image of four lions that once sat atop the Ashoka Pillar. Although a visit to the town is comfortable throughout the year, the best time is between the months of October and March. Hotel accommodations are available in plenty.
. The city of Bhopal is marked with magnificent architectural wonders and Sadar Manzil holds a prominent place. Sadar Manzil is located adjacent to the Royal Enclave that served as a royal courtroom for the ruling head of the city.The place is constructed with red bricks that give it an attractive appeal. The majestic entrance is entirely carved in wood that leads to a small gate. The first storey has a big terrace balcony whilst the second storey features has four domes, one in each corner. The first floor and the ground floor have a series of spacious rooms. Sadar Manzil attracts ample number of tourists who wish to view the artistic and architectural beauty of the place.
The magnificence of the building and the surrounding greenery generate a magical charm on the spectator. Sadar Manzil, which situates near to Gohar Mahal, with its exceptional architecture and artistic beauty attracts large number of people.
. Bhimbetka Caves are among the most fabled destinations in the country. It is situated just 46 km from Bhopal; they are surrounded by the northern limits of Vindhya mountain Range The caves happened to be the dwellings of pre-historic man during the Paleolithic era. The paintings in the caves exhibit the development of the human race with time. This site bears immense historic significance owing to the rarest specimens of pre-historic paintings ever discovered in India. The unique specialty lies in the fact that most of these paintings are still in a condition good enough to be studied.
There are about six hundred caves framed with exquisite pre-historic paintings. Presently out of the 600 caves only 12 are open for visitors. The caves are located in the midst of sal and teak forests. They were first discovered by V S Wakankar in the year 1957. The caves are the testimonials of our history and the creations of our ancestors now attract onlookers from all over the country. The sheer historical and cultural relevance of the caves coupled with the genuine archaeological importance of the site earned Bhimbetka Caves the acclaimed World Heritage Site recognition by UNESCO in 2003.
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya
. Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, also referred to as the National Museum of Mankind, is spread across an area of 200 acres. This place happens to be the only tribal habitat in the world, exhibiting contemporary tribal cultures and actual-size dwellings of typical tribal villages of Indian states. The one of a kind museum is situated in a prehistoric site and displays a vivid collection of pre-historic painted rock shelters, quite realistic replicas of tribal life.
The exhibitions here can be broadly divided into three categories: open-air exhibitions, indoor galleries and temporary or periodical exhibitions. The first, open-air exhibitions are open to public and display Desert Village, Coastal Village, Mythological Trail, Himalayan Village and Traditional Technology Park, the most striking part of this exhibition being the Tribal Habitat which features life-size dwellings built by tribes.
As far as the second category is concerned, there are two indoor galleries, namely Bhopal Gallery and Veethi-Sankul, covering an area of around 1200 sq. m. The main building encompasses indoor and outdoor auditoriums, exhibition halls and other miscellaneous facilities in approximately 16 levels. Approximately 7000 sq. m area is utilised by temporary exhibitions and the building is covered with Dholpur sandstone on all sides.
. Bharat Bhavan is a multi-arts complex without parallel in Bhopal, India housing a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theater, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk musicproviding interactive proximity to the verbal, the visual and the performing arts. It is a place for contemporary articulation, exploration, reflection and innovation.
Bharat Bhavan consists of Roopankar (Museum of fine arts), Rangmandal (A repertory), Vagarth (A centre of Indian poetry), Anhad (A library of classical and folk music), Ashram etc.
Regional Science Centre
. Regional Science Center is located on Banganga Road on Shyamla Hills, Bhopal. It was established in the year 1995. The museum houses Science equipments, working models, animated models, artifacts, panel displays. Most of the models are interactive in nature. The museum has also a science park. The museum regularly arranges science fair, science shows, science seminar, science quiz and various other programmes to create interest among the students.
. Birla Museum, situated atop the hilly terrains of Bhopal, is an archaeological museum set up in 1971. One of its kind in Bhopal, this museum preserves the evidences and artefacts dating right back to the prehistoric period; whilst, providing its visitors a glimpse of the social culture of the primitive men. Other exhibits at the museum include tools and equipments that were used by primitive men during the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages.
Tourists are lured towards the scale model of Bhimbetka rock shelter exhibited in the museum, with ancient wall paintings of the Stone Age. Archaeologists can also find interest in the displays of stone sculptures, from the 7th to the 13th century, collected from the various archaeological sites. Coins, manuscripts and terracotta objects dating back to the period between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD are other exhibits at this museum.
. The archaeological museum in Bhopal is considered as a priceless heritage of the state. The place holds an incredible collection of sculptures, paintings and artifacts of India. The museum is situated near the Lower Lake and is kept open for visitors, students and archaeologists who wish to visit and studying the artifacts here kept here.
The artifacts stored in this museum are different from those found in other establishments. The place primarily has the Bagh Cave paintings, carvings and statues that offer an insight into the rich cultural heritage of Madhya Pradesh. The place also houses old religious statues of ancient times from different empires and kingdoms of the country.
. Lower Lake, situated amidst majestic hills and the massive Upper Lake, is a beautiful remnant of the great Mughal Empire. Hemmed by the Kamala garden, this lake has been greatly affected by human settlements from all sides. Often known as the Chota Talaab, this Lower Lake is separated from the Upper Lake by an over-bridge.
The MP Tourism Boat Club provides exciting trips by sail, paddle boats and motor boats over the Lower Lake for adventure lovers. Lower Lake, along with the Upper Lake, has given a famous sobriquet to Bhopal, the 'City of Lakes'. All local transport modes like buses and auto rickshaws provide access to the site of Lower Lake.
. The Upper Lake of Bhopal is a huge water reservoir that lies in the Western part of the city. The lake is considered to be the biggest lake in Madhya Pradesh. Seeing this 'Bada Talaab' one goes absolutely speechless. The lake is the major man-made drinking source for the residents of the city.
This beautiful water reservoir is said to have existed since the 11th century. It is has a huge earthen embankment built across the Kolans River. The lake is visited not only for sight-seeing but also for customary beliefs as locals think its waters have the power to heal skin ailments. Apart from this, it is a favourite place among adventure lovers as it offers various sports activities such as paddling, rowing, and motorboats to indulge themselves.
Van Vihar National Park
. Van Vihar National Park is a national park located at the heart of Bhopal. Declared a national park in 1983, it covers an area of about 4.45 km. Although it has the status of a national park, Van Vihar is developed and managed as a modern zoological park, following the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority. The animals are kept in their near natural habitat. Most of the animals are either orphaned brought from various parts of the state or those, which are exchanged from other zoos. No animal is deliberately captured from the forest.Van Vihar is unique because it allows easy access to the visitors through a road passing through the park, security of animals from poachers by building trenches and walls and providing natural habitat to the animals.
. Jama Masjid is a small, yet beautiful mosque that was built by Qudisiya Begum in 1837. The most distinguished feature of this well-preserved monument is the two massive minarets that are clearly visible to naked eyes even from a considerable distance. Reflecting the dexterity of Islamic artisans, interiors of this mosque are remarkable.
Inside the mosque are three bulbous cupolas, accompanied with a series of alabaster-white columned arches and a marble internal sanctum. Jama Masjid had undergone an extensive renovation after 1947, when a small pond was added to it. Holding great importance as a holy place, this mosque is frequented by tourists on a large scale.
Taj ul Masjid
. One of the biggest and most the graceful of the Mosques in India, the taj-Ul-Masjid literally means 'The Crown of Mosques' . Against the backdrop of the historical city of Bhopal, the Taj-Ul-Mosque displays a spectacular sight.The construction of the Taj-Ul-Mosque, Bhopal witnessed alternative spans of active and inactive time periods, during the rule of the succeeding Begums .However the construction of the mosque could never be completed due to the shortage of funds. It was as late as 1971 that work was resumed and the Taj-Ul-Mosque finally stood in all its grandeur.
The outer fa??ade of the Taj-Ul-Mosque is pink in color, with two large white domed towers looking up at the sky. There are three huge spherical domes in the Taj-Ul-Mosque. Visitors can also witness an attractive looking hallway supported with massive beautiful pillars, polished marble floorings and a large airy courtyard. The Quibla Hall within the prayer hall is carved with eleven recessed arches. Apart from being one of the major Muslim landmarks in the city of Bhopal, the Taj -Ul-Mosque is also used as a madrasa while an Islamic religious school runs inside the Taj-Ul-Mosque premises during the day. There is a three day Ijtima congregation held at the Taj-Ul-Mosque every year that draws in crowd from all over the country.
. Moti Masjid, also known as the Pearl Mosque, is situated in the heart of the city. A beautiful shrine, Moti Majid signifies the history of the Bhopal Begums in India. Constructed in 1860 by Sikander Jehan Begum of Bhopal, the daughter of Qudisiya Begum, its architecture is more or less similar to the Jama Masjid in Delhi. Sikandar Begum, an unconventional and liberal women, abolished slavery. She used to dress up like a man usually and go out riding without a veil. She set the trend of progressive women in the city and thus Bhopal came to be known as the place of relatively liberated and progressive women.
The mosque stands majestically as a symbol of Bhopal's history and features a white marble facade with two small cupolas on the top. There are two dark red towers on either sides of the main building, adorned with bright golden spikes. These beautiful minarets are considered to be the gateway to heaven on earth and are used for the call to prayer for all faithful followers of Islam.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
. The Lakshmi Narayan Temple, also called Birla Temple commands a panoramic view of Bhopal, located on Arera Hills. The temple is built in the honour of Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth and her divine consort, Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, known as Narayana. Apart from the idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu, the temple also has a dazzling idol of a reposing Lord Shiva with his wife, Goddess Parvati.
Attached to the temple at Bhopal is the Birla Museum that houses a collection of sculptures from the Mandsaur, Shahdol, Sehore and Raisen districts of Madhya Pradesh. The collection dates back to the 12th century era of the Paramaras when the art and culture prospered in the state. The sandy-yellowish temple has an old-worldly charm about it, with a huge turret on one side of the building. As one enters the temple through a glorious archway, the sprawling lawns lend it a pretty appeal.
. Islamnagar is located 11 km away on the Bhopal-Berasia Road, past the infamous Union Carbide Factory (the poisonous gas leakage causing the worst industrial disaster in1984), Islamnagar is a small village known for the palace of Bhopal's Afghan rulers built by Dost Mohammed Khan. Gardens surround the palace and the pavilion. The pavilion, a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art, has pillars richly decorated with floral motifs. Other important monuments are the hamam (baths) of the Chaman Mahal and the double-storeyed Rani Mahal.