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Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Information about Bhopal
Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal takes its name from its famous founder Raja Bhoj who built it in the 11th century. He is believed to have created the three lakes by constructing a dam (pal) around which the city developed. Bhopal is an attractive city, situated around the two artificial lakes and on the gently rolling seven hills in the Malwa region. It is also the city where the devastating Union Carbide explosion took place in 1984, killing

Bhopal Madhya Pradesh

thousands of people. Bhopal is a great centre of art and culture. It is India’s leading centre for performing arts and for the preservation of traditions of tribal and folk arts. The city inspired the famous architect, Charles Correa, to design its unique multi-art centre, Bharat Bhawan. It is a very pleasant city to rest and relax. The city has a moderate climate.

History of Bhopal
Bhopal takes its name from its famous founder Raja Bhoj who built it in the 11th century. He is believed to have created the three lakes by constructing a dam (pal) around which the city developed. The present city within the walls was laid out by an Afghan chief, Dost Mohammad Khan. During Aurangzeb’s rule, Dost Mohammad was the Governor of Aurangzeb and Bhopal. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, he took advantage of the situation and carved out a kingdom for himself. He died in 1723 leaving an island state in Malwa. From 1857 until 1926, Bhopal was ruled by women, first Sikander Begum (1857-1901) and then by Shah Jahan Begum (1901 – 1926). The Taj-ul-Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India was begun but not completed by Shah Jahan Begum. Bhopal achieved international notoriety in 1984 with the Union Carbide disaster. Poisonous gas escaped from the Multi-national corporation’s plan and killed over 1000 people and injured about thousands.

Shopping in Bhopal
Bhopal is known for its zari (silver thread) work on velvet, evening bags, filigree work, jewellery, inlaid leather, bead and sequin-embroidered bags, glass-encrusted bags and richly decorated shoes. Handicrafts and handlooms from all over Madhya Pradesh are available in Bhopal.

Tourist Attractions in Bhopal
There are various mosques and lakes in Bhopal. The Taj-ul-Masjid, Jama Masjid and Moti Masjid are the famous mosques in Bhopal. The Upper and Lower Lakes are the famous lakes in Bhopal.


The Taj-ul Masjid, belongs to the 19th century and is the largest mosque of India. It is a huge, pink mosque with two massive white domed minarets and three white domes over the main building. This mosque was built by the Shah Jahan Begum, and completed after her death. Its main hall, large courtyard and marble floors are impressive.

Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid was built in 1837 by another

Taj-ul-Masjid Bhopal

women ruler, Qudsia Begum on the site of the ancient temple. This mosque is surrounded by a bazaar. The gold spikes crown the minarets of the smaller Jama Masjid Mosque.

Upper and Lower Lakes
The large upper lake has an area of 6 km. A bridge separates it from the lower lake. They look prettier at night with lights of the houses around the lake reflected in water. Boating can also be done in the picturesque lakes. The modern Laxmi Narayan Temple is situated to the south of the Lower Lake.

Shamla Hill or Idgah Hill
A fine view of the city can be had from the Shamla Hill or Idgah Hill. From this hill, you may be able to see the minarets of the city’s mosques towering over the lesser buildings.

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 everyday except Mondays.


Moti Masjid
The Moti Masjid was built by Qudsia Begum’s daughter, Sikander Begum in a similar style to the Jama Masjid in Delhi in 1860. This mosque has two red, gold topped minarets.

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

Moti Masjid Bhopal
Mahal is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.

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 revitalization 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 ecospecific habitations & subsistence practices in the tribal, coastal, desert, and Himalayan habitats. The library, audio-visual archive, computerized 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 everyday except Mondays.

Van Vihar
This safari-park is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, with an area of 445 hectares. In these natural surroundings, wildlife watchers can view a variety of herbivorous and carnivorous species.

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, reminders 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.

Facing the Lower Lake, the fish-shaped aquarium houses a number of fascinating species of fish in all shapes and sizes.

Excursion from Bhopal

Bhimbetka Hill

Bhimbetka Hill is only 30 km. away from Bhopal. Bhimbetka Hill has the richest collection of prehistoric paintings associated with many other archaeological discoveries. The site was discovered by V.S. Wakanker of the Vikram University, Ujjain, in 1957 and systematic digging at the site has continued since 1971. The hill is located in the middle of a dense deciduous forest and there are over 30 species of trees with edible fruit, flower seeds and tubers. There is also still a rich wildlife including several species of deer, wild boar, sloth bear, antelope, leopard, jackal, scaly anteater and a wide range of species of birds. Perennial springs provide the essential year round water supply. In this place, over 700 caves with Neolithic rock-paintings have been discovered. The oldest paintings are at least as old as those of the Pyrenees. Over 500 caves contain prehistoric and later paintings and a smaller number have evidence of Stone Age habitation from the Lower Paleolithic period to the late Mesolithic. Some of the cave paintings are quite small, while some are about 10 meters long. Red and white are the dominant colours used, but green and yellow are also found. The paintings belongs to three periods. The prehistoric phase is dominated by wild life paintings of cattle, boar, tiger, deer engaged in various activities, and varies from tiny miniatures to life size and often life-like representation. Hunting is a common theme, the humans during this period being shown simply as “stick men”. Some women are shown, occasionally pregnant. In the transitional period, men are shown grazing or riding animals, but animals lose their proportions and naturalism. The later period is quite different, and animals and animal hunts are replaced by battle scenes with men riding on elephants and horses with spears, bows and arrows and probably date from the early centuries AD.

Islamnagar is situated about 11 km. away from Bhopal. Islamnagar is the palace of the Afghan rulers built by Dost Mohammed Khan. Formal gardens, palaces in Hindu-Muslim style and Rani Mahal are worth seeing. The latter a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art, has columns lavishly embellished with floral motifs.

Bhojpur is situated about 28 km. away from Bhopal. Bhojpur was founded by Raja Bhoja and has the ruins of a Shiva temple. The symbol of Shiva, the Lingam, is a huge monolith.

Kerwan, is about 17 km from Bhopal. It is a dam and a beautiful picnic spot.

About 45 km from Bhopal is the ancient fort of Raisen on the Bhopal-Sagar road. The fort was built in the early 6th century. It is situated on a high hill and once had 84 lakes and ponds, of which only 15 remain. The fort was under the famous Hindu king Rai Puran Mal before it was seized by Sher Shah and brought under Afghan control.

Delawadi is situated about 62 km from Bhopal. Situated in a lovely forest glade, Delawadi is a picturesque picnic spot, rich in scenic splendor and natural beauty.

The historical fort standing on an isolated hill about 1,127 metres long and 266 metres broad is situated 3 km away from Delawadi. Buses ply the route, but from Delawadi to the fort one has to travel on foot. The fort was once a stronghold of Gonds, but fell to Mohammad of the Bhopal State.

How to reach Bhopal
By Air:

Bhopal is connected by Indian Airlines flights with Delhi, Mumbai, Gwalior, Indore, Jabalpur, Raipur and Nagpur. The airport is situated about 7 km from the city centre.

By Rail:
Bhopal is situated on the main lines between Delhi, Mumbai and the southern state capitals of Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Trivandrum. It is directly connected with Amritsar, Jammu Tawi, Bangalore, Cochin, Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai, Pune, and other cities in Madhya Pradesh.

By Road:
Bhopal is connected by road to Indore, Ujjain, Mandu, Gwalior, Pachmarhi, Jabalpur, Sanchi and Khajuraho.


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