Split by a pair of lakes, Bhopal is two cities within a city. Towards the North you have the old city, a fascinating area of mosques, serpentine alleys, chowks, milling crowds, exotic havelis and crowded markets. South of the two lakes is the new Bhopal. Modern, with wide roads, shopping complexes, plush hotels and restaurants nestled comfortably in the Arera and Shamla Hills, which overlook the lakes and the old city beyond. The central district is known as New Market. Both Bhopals attract you in their own way and vie to bring out the child within you.
Compiled by WH Desk
As interesting as the city itself is the story about how Bhopal got its name. The city was founded in the 11th century by the illustrious Paramara King of Malwa, Raja Bhoja. The king was engaged in a fierce power struggle with his contemporaries the Chalukyas, Chandelas and Kalchuris. He built a pala (dam) to secure his eastern frontiers. This led to the formation of the beautiful Bada Talab (Upper Lake). He then built a fort and laid the foundations of a city that was named Bhojpal, from King Bhoja’s pala. Over a period of time Bhojpal came to be known as Bhopal.
Tourist Attractions in Bhopal
The Masajid ranks amongst the largest mosques in the continent of Asia as it covers a sprawling 23312 square feet of land. The minarets are 206 feet tall. The construction was begun by Sultan Shah Jahan, Bopal’s Begum but owing to want of funds, it was not completed during her reign. The year 1971 saw its completion when Allama Mohammad Imran Khan Nadwi Azhari initiated efforts to complete the mosque, which attracts viewers with its imposing size, pink façade and intricately carved pillars and ceilings.
LAKSHMI NARAYAN TEMPLE
TheTemple is located on the Arera Hills in Bhopal. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and houses beautiful idols of Goddess Lakshmi and her husband Vishnu, along with the shrine of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Lakshmi Narayan Temple is located in the pictorial settings with lush green surroundings and panoramic landscapes that give its devotees solace and serenity. The temple welcomes its devotees with its huge architecturally rich archway and finely crafted Hindu sculptures.
VAN VIHAR NATIONAL PARK
Located at the heart of the city, covering an area of 445.21 hectare of land, Van Vihar National Park is home to a wide range of birds and animals. Some of the wild animals found here include tiger, lion, leopard, sambar and chital. The park is home to over 200 species of birds. With Upper Lake on one side and Shyamala Hills on the other, the forest is almost a perfect home to these wild animals. You can either walk or hire cycles to explore the park.
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.
UPPER LAKE (BHOJ TAL)
The oldest manmade lake in India, Upper Lake is also known as Bhojtal or Bada Talab locally. This beautiful and vast water body was built during the 11th century. The lake is a massive earthen bound construction, built across the Kolans River. According to a legend, it is believed that King Bhoj constructed this gigantic lake to cure his skin disease.
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.
Due to a large number of Muslims and Hindus living here, the cuisine of Bhopal is greatly influenced by both Muslim and Hindu culture. The cuisine of Bhopal includes some of the very delicious vegetarian dishes along with exotic and rich non-vegetarian dishes too. Some of the most well-liked dishes you can enjoy in Bhopal are given here. Dishes like Achar Gosht, Keema, Keema pulav, Biryani Pilaf, Roghan Josh, Bafla, Bhopali Paan, Seekh Kebab are among the famous food of Bhopal.
The street side shops in the city are ideal for souvenir hunters looking for new items. Besides sightseeing, shopping in the bustling markets and visiting popular souvenir shops in New Market and Old City are a must on the list of any tourist. From traditional handicrafts to shimmery purses, fancy shoes, jewellery, household items and more, Bhopal’s street side shopping experience is fun and meets the demands of every customer with diverse tastes and preferences.
Air: Bhopal airport, about 13 km northwest of the city center, is well connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Raipur. Taxis are available from the airport to reach the city center.
Rail: Bhopal is on the Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal. Local buses and auto-rickshaws are available to reach the city center.
Road: Regular state run and private bus services connect Bhopal with Indore, Mandu, Ujjain, Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Gwalior, Sanchi, Jabalpur and Shivpuri.