Bhopal

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 Bhoja.

Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming market places and fine old mosques and palaces still bear the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers; among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices.

The founder of the existing city was Afghan soldier Dost Mohammad (1708-1740). Fleeing from Delhi in the chaotic period that followed Aurangzeb’s death, Dost Mohammad met the Gond queen Kamlapati, who sought his aid after the murder of her consort.

A charming legend relates how the queen would recline in a lotus barge that, on moonlit nights, would drift across the lake. The two lakes of Bhopal still dominate the city, and are indeed its nucleus. Bordered along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of a city.

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 ecospecific habitations & subsistance 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.

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.

 

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 Templeand 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.

Open everyday, except Tuesday, from 7-11 am and 3-5.30 pm.

Aquarium

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

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.

Chowk

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.

Upper and Lower Lakes

The Upper Lake is divided from the Lower Lake by an overbridge. M. P. Tourism’s Boat Club on the Upper Lake provides facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.

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 SadarManzil

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.

Taj-ul-Masajid

The Taj-ul-Masajid 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.

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.

Islamnagar

11 km away on the Bhopal- Berasia road, Islamnagar was the palace of Bhopal’s Afghan rulers and was built by Dost Mohammed Khan. Formal gardens surround the palace and the pavilion. The latter a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art, has columns lavishly embellished with floral motifs. Other monuments to see are the Hamam of the Chaman Mahal and the double-storied Rani Mahal.

Kerwan

17 km from Bhopal. A dam and a beautiful picnic spot.

Raisen

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

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

Ginnorgarh

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.

Bhojpur (28 km)

The enormous 11th century Shiva temple built during the reign of Raja Bhoja is incomplete, but still well worth a visit for its unusual design features and the massive 2.3 m high lingam.Bhojeshwar Temple In plan, a simple square with an exterior dimension of 66 feet, it is devoid of the re-entrant angles usual in such buildings. The richly carved dome though incomplete has a magnificent soaring strength of line and is supported by four pillars. These like the dome have been conceived on a massive scale, yet retain a remarkable elegance because of their tapering form. Divided into three sections, the lowest is an octagon with facets of 2.12 feet, from which springs a 24-faced section. Jain Temple Also, incomplete, and with a similar stone-raising ramp, is a Jain shrine that stands close to the Bhojeshwar temple. Three figures of the tirthankaras are contained within; one of a colossal statues of Mahavira 20 feet high, and the other two of Parswanath. Rectangular in plan, this temple probably belongs to the same period as the Bhojeshwar. Cyclopean Dam West of Bhojpur once lay a vast lake, but nothing remains except the ruins of the magnificent old dams by which its waters were contained. The site was chosen with great skill, as a natural wall of hills enclosed the whole area except for two gaps, 100 yards and 500 yards in width respectively. These were closed by gigantic earthen dams, faced on both sides with enormous blocks of sandstone, many being 4 feet long, 3 feet broad, and 2.5 feet thick, set without mortar. The smaller dam is 44 feet high and 300 feet thick at the base, the larger dam 24 feet high with a flat top 100 feet broad. These embankments held up an expanse of water of about 250 square miles. This great work is ascribed to Raja Bhoj, but it may possibly be of an earlier date

Bhimbetka (40km)

As one of the world’s largest collections of painted pre-historic Stone Age rock shelters and cave paintings dating back to 10,000 BC, it is rather awe-inspiring.Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhyan ranges, Bhimbetka lies 46 km South of Bhopal. In this rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 600 rock shelters belonging to the Neolithic age were recently discovered. Here, in vivid panoramic detail, paintings in over 500 caves depict the life of the pre-historic cave-dwellers making the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure, an invaluable chronicle in the history of man.

Islamnagar (11km)

From the hilltop palace complex of Dost Mohammed, visitors can see the Chaman Mahal and the two-storied Rani Mahal.

Sanchi

Sanchi is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa 1, was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant from adjacent Vidisha. Their son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra were born in Ujjayini and sent to Sri Lanka, where they converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism.

Sanchi Stupa (46 km) and the Vidisha caves (55 km)

The world famous Sanchi Stupa and the Vidisha caves can be seen on a half-day trip from the hotel.Sanchi, renowned and venerated as the site of the oldest Buddhist Stupa in the world, also has Buddhist temples, monasteries and pillars dating from the 3rd century BC to 12 the century AD. The profound peace pervading the area is as much of a draw as everything there is to see there.

The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with Stupa 2 situated on a lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No.17 and the 7th century temple No. 18 are on the intermediate shelf and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf. The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas.

The adjacent Gupta temple no.17 was hailed by Sir John Marshall as one of the most rationally organized structures in Indian architecture. Though small, it was a herald of all the principles which went into the engineering of an Indian temple in the early medieval period. The Buddhas in the perambulatory surrounding Stupa 1 are not contemporary with the Stupa but belong to the Gupta period in the mid 5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars adjacent to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple.

Below the hill, the Archaeological Survey of India Museum houses some of the earliest known stone sculptures in Indian art from the 3rd to the 1st century BC.

Courtesy by : Madhya Pradesh Tourism Corporation Bhopal

 TRAVEL TIPS

Regular flights connect Bhopal with Delhi, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore and Mumbai.

Bhopal is on the Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal.

Regular bus services connect Bhopal with Indore(186 km), Mandu(285 km), Ujjain(188 km), Khajuraho(383 km), Pachmarhi(195 km), Gwalior(423 km), Sanchi(46 km), Jabalpur(295 km) and Shivpuri(311 km).

Throughout the year.

Indian Airlines -

Daily connections from New Delhi & Mumbai.

JET Airlines -

Daily connection from Mumbai.

Air Deccan -

Daily connections from New Delhi.

TRAIN :

Bhopal is on the New Delhi – Chennai main line.

Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Bhopal.

Shatabdi Express – daily Delhi – Bhopal – Delhi. By this train 8 hours day journey.

Nizamuddin – Habibganj Express daily Delhi – Bhopal – Delhi. By this train 10 hours overnight journey.

Temperature : Min Max

Summer 25 Degree. C 45 Degree. C

Winter 9 Degree. C 26 Degree. C

Best Season : October – March.

Clothing

Summer : Light Tropical.

Winter : Light Woollen.

Languages : Hindi/English.

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