In the 11th century the legendary Raja Bhoja of the Parmara dynasty constructed two beautiful lakes and established his capital city Bhojapal, around them. The fortunes of Bhopal rose and fell with that of its reigning dynasty. As the Parmaras declined in power, the city was ransacked several times and finally faded away into obscurity.
Dost Mohammed, an Afghan soldier of fortune, laid out the present city at the same site following the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707. Thus began the Islamic influence on the culture and architecture of the Hindu city of Bhopal. From the early 19th century a succession of powerful Begums (Queens) ruled the city for over a century (till 1926) giving it such innovations as waterworks, railways and a postal system. Several monuments still stand in the city as reminders of this glorious period in its history.
Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh, combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoj. The founder of this exciting city was, however, an Afghan soldier, Dost Mohammed Khan (1708-1740), fleeing from Delhi in the chaotic period after Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb's death, Dost Mohd. encountered the beautiful Gond queen, Kamlapati, who sought his aid after the murder of her consort.
Most shops in Bhopal are open 0930-2000, and are closed on Mondays. The two main shopping centres are:
The Chowk (which is lined by picturesque old havelis and mosques)
Mrignayani Emporium, 23 New Shopping centre and Handicrafts Emporium, Hamidia Road are two good places for souvenirs hunting and they also stock a good collection of local handicrafts. Women's Co-op Zari Centre, Pir Gate sells bags with some exquisite zari work (rich embroidery done with gold and silver thread) and chiffon sarees. MP State Emporium, GTB Complex, TT Nagar, specializes in chanderi saris and fabrics (combination of cotton and silk so sheer that the Emperor Aurangzeb insisted that his daughter wear seven layers of it!), as well as tussar and other raw silks.
The climate in Madhya Pradesh is governed by a monsoon weather pattern. The distinct seasons are summer (March to May), winter (November to February), and the intervening rainy months of the southwest monsoon (June to September). The summer is hot, dry, and windy, with an average temperature of at least 85 °F (29 °C) in all parts of the state; in some places the temperature reaches as high?
GUFA MANDIR Situated near Lalghati in a hill having many natural caves lies this ancient temple. It is believed that this temple was rediscovered in 1949 by Swami Narayandas. Built like a staircase, the huge precincts of this structure are adorned by the idols of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Lord Shankar, Lordess Durga and Hanuman.
SHAHID GATE This structure is located in Old Bhopal on a major road to Shahjehanbad. This structure was built during the reign of the Nawabs fsAt present, it has been transformed into a memorial for the freedom fighters of the Independence movement.There also is an ever-glowing torch in honour of local heroes.
VARDHAMAN PARK One of the beautiful parks of the city whose roses give it an exclusive look.Built at the site of the remains of the old fort of Bhopal, it is located besides the Upper Lake and provides an astonishing view of the sunset.
Upper and Lower Lake - Bhopal
Laxmi Narayan Temple - Bhopal
Taj - ul - Masajid - Bhopal
BHARAT DHAM Situated seven kilometers from Bhopal lies this imposing hill which is the highest peak in Bhopal. Here lies "Manuabhan Ki Tekri". The tekri is adorned with the footprints of Jain saints Shri Vijay Surishwar, Shri Jinndutt Surishwar and Acharya Mantung and the idol of Adhishtayak Dev Shrimanbhadra. On this peak, Bharat Dham is being developed which would house sculptures of great Indian personalities apart from their brief biographies.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Bhopal
Upper and Lower Lake: The Upper lake is divided from the Lower lake by an overbridge and is 6 Sq.km. in area. Madhya Pradesh tourism has developed a Yatch Club on the upper lake, which provides facilities of sail, paddle and motor boats.
TAJ-ul-MASAJID: Said to be the largest mosque in the country, the construction of this towering edifice was begun by Shah Jehan Begum (1868-1901) but was incomplete on her death. The great queen, Bhopal's eight ruler, left many monuments in the city and to her goes the credit for Bhopal's postal system, railway and waterworks. After her death, lack of fund prevented the completion of masjid and construction was resumed only in 1971.The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, broad facade, spacious courtyard and smooth marble floor. A three-day Ijtimaj congregation held here annually draws people from all over the country.
JAMA MASJID: Built in 1873 by Qudsia Begum, it is a beautiful mosque, the minarets of which are crowned with gold spikes. Moti Masjid : Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikandar Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.
SHAUKET MAHAL AND SADAR MANZIL: Shaukat Mahal stands apart from other structures of the old city which are predominantly Islamic in style. This structure was designed by a Frenchman, who combined Post-renaissance and Gothic styles to produce a charming amalgam. Adjoining it is the Sadar Manzil, Hall of public audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.
BHARAT BHAWAN: It is a unique multi-celled hall of arts. Designed by the world-renowned architect Charles Correa, Bharat Bhavan is the centre for visual and performing arts. It consists of a museum of tribal and folk arts, an art gallery, a workshop of fine arts, a theatre, an indoor and outdoor auditorium and an excellent library.
GOHAR MAHAL: Situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the upper lake, Gohar Mahal is a sprawling palace built in 1820 by Qudsia Begum also known as Gohar Begum. It is an excellent example of fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
VAN VIHAR: This safari park is located adjacent to the upper lake, with an area of 445 hectares where wildlife watchers can see a variety of herbivores and carnivores in their natural surroundings.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE: This beautiful temple situated on the Arera Hills has a museum attached to it, which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, and Mandsaur and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.
CHOWK: In the heart of the old city, the chowk is lined with old mosques and havelis,reminders of a bygone era. The shops in its narrow alleys are treasure troves of traditional Bhopal crafts: silver jewellery,exquisitely fashioned beadwork,embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushion.
How to Reach Bhopal
BY AIR: Major Airlines connects Bhopal with Delhi, Bombay, Indore and Jabalpur.
BY RAIL: Bhopal is on the main Delhi-Chennai line. Major trains going from Bombay to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal.
BY ROAD: Regular bus services connect Bhopal with
Indore (186km), Mandu (285km), Ujjain (188km), Khajuraho (383km), Pachmari (195km), Gwalior (423km), Sanchi (46km) and Jabalpur (295km).