Where to go
Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, situated around two artificial lakes amidst picturesque settings is also known as the city of lakes. Bhopal was built on the site of an 11th century city, 'Bhojapal', founded by the legendary king, Raja Bhoja. The existing city was developed by Dost Mohammed (1708-1740) one of Emperor Aurangazeb's Afghan governors. His progeny, including efficient women rulers ruled Bhopal until 1947 when the state finally joined the Indian Union. The old city with its crowded market places, fine old mosques and palaces intermingles with the new city with the broad avenues, high rise offices and exquisitely laid out parks and gardens. The city is famous for various mosques, world class museums, mugalai gastronomy and silver jewellery and exquisitely fashioned beadwork.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Believed to be the largest mosque in the country, this pink towering mosque was commenced by Shah Jahan Begum, (1868-1901) Bhopal's eighth ruler. The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, the three white domes and the two white domed massive minarets.. A three-day ' Ijtima', a congregation of Muslims in India, held here annually, draws people from all over the country.
Located in the heart of the old city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques and havelis, reminders of bygone era. The shops in its narrow alleys are treasure troves of traditional Bhopali crafts, silver jewellery and exquisitely fashioned.
Gold spikes crown the tall dark minarets of this beautiful mosque, built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum, the devout wife of the ruler of Bhopal.
Also known as Pearl Mosque, this mosque is architecturally similar to Delhi’s Jama Masjid. It was built by Sikandar Jahan Begum, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.
Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil
Shaukat Mahal is situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the city. Its mixture of architectural 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 descendant of a subsidiary of the Bourbon kings of France. Post-Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to a charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.
Gohar Mahal also known as Gohar Begum is situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake. This palace, built in 1820 by Kudsia Begum is an architectural gem. The Mahal is a magnificent fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
Upper and Lower Lakes
The legendary Raja Bhoj is credited with the construction of these two lakes. The Upper Lake which is six sq. km. in area, is divided from the Lower by an over bridge. Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s, Yacht Club on the Upper and Lower Lakes provide facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.
This safari park, 445 hectares in area is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake. It has a rich variety of animals and birds. Open every day except Tuesday, from 7-11 am and 3-5 pm.
Government Archaeological Museum
This museum has a fine collection of sculptures from various parts of Madhya Pradesh, which includes paintings of various schools, replica of Bagh cave paintings, the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha.
Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm except Mondays. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Established in 1982, Bharat Bhawan a center for the creative and performing arts, is one of the most unique national institutes in India. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa and located in the Shamla hills on the banks of a lake, it is regarded as one of the most important centres for the preservation of traditional folk art. The center houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theatre, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. They are: 'Rupankar'- The museum has contemporary urban, folk and art of aboriginals, a ceramic workshop, litho workshop and facilities for stone craft and metal casting.
Museum of Man (Tribal Habitat)
An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located at Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya on Shamla Hills, the Tribal Habitat is a presentation of actual-size dwellings typical of contemporary tribal cultures in various states of India. The exhibition gives a complete insight into the architectural features of the tribal houses with elaborately displayed interiors.
Open every day expect Mondays and national holidays, 10 am to 6 pm.
Laxminarayan Temple & Museum
Also known as Birla Mandir, this beautiful Vaishnavite temple on the Arera Hills has an excellent museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsour and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The stone sculptures are mainly of Vishnu, Siva and their consorts and incarnations. There is also a small selection of terracotta exhibits from Kausambi.
The Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays.
Regional Science Centre
Regional Science Centre, located on the Shamla Hills, houses a planetarium and a science museum with about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in 'Invention' and 'Fun Science' galleries.
Open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm on all days except Mondays.