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Popularly referred as the city of lakes, Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is an amazing blend of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Legendary King Bhoj founded it in 11th century AD and named it Bhojpal. It is believed that he built a dam (Pal) here, which led in the formation of three lakes that still dominate the city. Later, the city was established by an Afghani chief, Dost Mohammad Khan who was the Governor of Bhopal, during the reign of Aurangzeb. Bhopal was under the control of Britishers through the 18th century.
Bhopal is dotted with magnificent mosques, temples, palaces and several historical monuments. The Taj-ul-Masjid in Bhopal is the largest mosque of India. The charm of the aristocratic and royal life of Bhopal can still be felt in its packed bazaars and age-old buildings. The city has gradually developed as the major commercial city of Madhya Pradesh. Home to many famous monuments, Bhopal impresses with its amazing life style and traditions that reflect harmonious commingling of past and present.
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Best Time to Visit- October to march Pilgrimage Attractions
What to buy – silver jewelry, beadwork, embroidered velvet items and leather goods, traditional craft products, beautifully woven saris, If you wish to purchase the local handicrafts, then head for a shop selling MRIGNAYNI products.
Moti Masjid Built by Sikendar Jehan in 1860, Moti Masjid resembles the Delhi’s Jama Masjid. The mosque is smaller than Jama Masjid and has two dark red minarets topped by golden spikes.
Jama Masjid Dominated by two huge minarets, Jama Masjid was built by Qudisiya Begum in 1837. The mosque is crowned with three bulbous cupolas and the main complex has contains a small pond. The series of alabaster-white columned arches adds to the beauty of this mosque.
Taj-ul-Masajid One of the largest mosques in Asia, Taj-ul- Masjid amazes everybody with its stunning architecture. Built by Nawab Shahjehan Begum, the mosque has an imposing double storeyed gateway with four recessed archways and nine imposing cusped multifold openings in the main prayer hall. The beautiful Quibla wall in the prayer hall is adorned with 11 recessed arches, while the mimber is made of black basalt. Today, the mosque is is used as a madarsa (religious school). A three-day annual Ijtima congregation held here attracts scores of people from every part of the country.
Shaukat Mahal Standing at the gateway to the Chowk area, Shaukat Mahal displays an outstanding amalgamation of Post Renaissance and Gothic styles of architecture. It was designed by a French man who is said to be the descendant of an offshoot of the Bourbon Kings of France.
Gohar Mahal Situated on the banks of the upper lake, Gauhar Mahal is truly an architectural gem. Kudsia Begum built this sprawling Palace in 1820.
Sardar Manzil Located near the Shaukat Mahal is the glorious Sardar Manzil. It was built as the hall of public audience by the fromer rulers of Bhopal.
Bharat Bhawan Inaugurated in 1982 , Bharat Bhawan is the hub for the visual and performing arts. It was designed by the famous architect, Charles Correa. The center houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, indoor and outdoor auditoria, a repertory theater, a rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music.
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya Situated on the Shamla hills by the upper lakefront, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya is a postcolonial museum, which is intended for the preservation of Indian tribal and folk art and culture. This unique museum is perhaps the only museum in the world strewn with numerous prehistoric painted rock shelters. It has a partially constructed coastal village, a rock cut gallery, a research center, a permanent open-air exhibition of traditional adivasi houses, compounds and religious shrines jointly known as tribal habitat. The museum displays old and new handicrafts and varied artworks belonging to various regions of the country. Open every day expect on Mondays and national holidays, from 10 am to 6 pm.
Government Archeological Museum The Government Archeological Museum houses a wonderful collection of sculptures collected from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. The collection includes beautiful paintings of famous art schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh Caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm except Mondays. The museum is closed on Mondays
Laxmi Narayan Temple Dedicated to godess Lamxi and her divine consort Vishnu , Laxmi Narayan Temple has been built by the famous Birla family. The temple is donned with the resplendent idols of gods and goddesses. Attached to the temple is a museum that displays collection of sculptures from the Mandsaur, Shahdol, Sehore and Raisen districts of Madhya Pradesh. It also houses the replicas of the 3500 years old Harappan artifacts encased under the stairs. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm everyday except Mondays.
Van Vihar It is a national park located in the heart of the walled city, Bhopal. It has been developed and managed as a modern zoological park. Spread over an area of 4.45 km sq, Van Vihar is home to royal white tigers, long nosed gharial, leopards, Himalayan bears and Indian tigers. It has about 207 species of birds and 60 rare species of butterflies.
Upper and Lower Lakes The upper lakes are separated from the lower lakes by an over bridge. You can enjoy boating in the upper lake, exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.
Chowk The old Chowk district of Bhopal is lined with age old mosques ,grand havelis and many small shops selling traditional Bhopali crafts : silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions. The vibrant Bazaar of the Chowk is a great place to shop for tussar silk, and chanderi silk saris.
Excursions – Islamnagar (11km), Kerwan (17km), Raisen (45km), Delawadi (62km), Ginnorgarh ( 3km from Delawadi).
How to Get There
By Air: Regular flights connect Bhopal with Delhi, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore and Mumbai.
By Rail: Bhopal is on the Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal.
By Road: 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).