Split by a pair of lakes, the city of Bhopal, also popularly referred to as the ‘City of Lakes’, is a true paradise for history buffs and art patrons. One of the greenest cities in India, Bhopal was founded by Raja Bhoj and features a number of natural and artificial lakes. The city of Bhopal has a very rich cultural heritage represented by numerous historical monuments, religious places as well as museums.
The city can be divided into two parts, the old city towards the north comprising of mosques, bazaars and old havelis and the modern city towards the south. The two major lakes of the city are ‘Bhojtal’ and ‘Chhota Talab’, also called Upper Lake and the Lower Lake respectively. Apart from tourism, the lakes are also a vital source of water for the residents of the city. Mosques like Taj-Ul-Masjid, built by Shah Jahan Begum is one of the largest in India, showcasing the rich heritage of the city and the classic Mughal architecture.
For the history buffs, Birla Mahal is a place where you can witness a number of prehistoric artifacts and stone sculptures that date back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic age. There is also Archaeological Museum where you can learn more about the vibrant history of the state and appreciate myriad statues of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
When it comes to places of religious significance, Bhopal is famous for having the Moti Masjid and Jama Masjid. Moti Masjid is famous for having a striking resemblance with the grandeur of Jama Masjid in Delhi while the Jama Masjid of Bhopal is known for attracting thousands of devotees from all over the country. Boasting of splendid minarets and elegant hallways, Taj-Ul-Masjid is another popular mosque to see in Bhopal.
Gohar Mahal is another example of the city’s rich heritage. Built by the first woman ruler of Bhopal, it exhibits a blend of both Hindu and Muslim architectures. At a distance of 45 km from the main city is the Raisen Fort which was built in the 6th century. The fort is located atop a hill and is home to a number of palaces, lakes, and temples. Bhojpur Temple, built in 11th century on the banks of Betwa River, though incomplete, is an exquisite piece of architecture. The tallest Shiv Linga is located inside this temple which is carved out of a single rock. The fort also houses the shrine of Muslim saint Hazrat Peer Fatehullah Shah Baba, some temples and various medieval ruins making it an amazing retreat when you are in Bhopal.
Learn about the tribal cultures of various parts of the country at the National Museum of Mankind, also known as Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. The museum situated on Shyamala Hills takes us through the evolution of mankind. Another museum is the State Museum of Madhya Pradesh which is located in the same building complex, consisting of 16 theme galleries presenting us with sculptures, coins, and manuscripts representing a vivid picture of both the modern and ancient India.
If you are a wildlife lover, then remember to take a walk through the Van Vihar National Park, located in the heart of the city. The national park is home to a number of birds and animals. Animals like a tiger, lion, cheetah can easily be found here along with 200 different species of birds. Situated between the Upper Lake and the Shyamala Hills, it is a picturesque place and a perfect spot to explore a range of wild animals.
Apart from the attractive tourist spots, Bhopal also offers a lot for shopping lovers. The inner city is clustered with many lively, vibrant bazaars offering diverse kinds of products. Zardozi Sarees, Mulberry silk, Tussar silk are few famous items. The markets are also famous for Mandana and Pithora paintings that should be on your bucket list while shopping in Bhopal.
Bhopal will surely not disappoint you if you are a foodie. The cuisine of Bhopal is heavily influenced by both the Hindu and Muslim cultures and includes both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian delicacies. Inner Chowks of the city presented us with the authentic Bhopal cuisine, the most popular ones being rogan josh, korma, biryani, pulao, kebabs, etc. Bafla is another popular dish which is served with pulses and is a total delight for one’s taste buds. When you are in Bhopal, you must also try Bhopali Paan which is considered to be an important item representing Bhopal’s culture.
Bhopal also encompasses some superb places in the vicinity of the city to spend some great time with your loved ones on weekends. One of the most popular places to visit from Bhopal is Bhimbetka Rock Shelters that are famous for having the oldest cave paintings in the world. The world heritage site is famous among all the history lovers and is located just 45 kilometers from the city of Bhopal.
Another famous place you should not miss when you are in Bhopal is the UNESCO world heritage site of Sanchi Stupa. The place houses relics of Buddha and is one of the most important Buddhist sites in India. Tourists in Bhopal can also visit the famous Udayagiri Caves where one can admire the iconographies of Hindu Gods like Vishnu, Durga and Shiva depicting legendary stories of the Gods and their Shrines.
Commemorating the vibrant past of Bhopal, Rani Kamlapati Palace is a wonderful place to see the residence of Rani Kamlapati. For those who are fond of adventure, Halali Dam and Reservoir is an excellent getaway to indulge in boat rides and picnics. The gigantic dam is built on the Halali river and also offers a pristine landscape to enjoy mesmerizing vistas.
With breathtakingly beautiful places to enchant you everywhere, Bhopal is a fascinating destination to check off from your bucket list. Whether you are a backpacker or you like to experience travel in an extravagant style, Bhopal is capable of catering to the travel needs of people with distinctive preferences.