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Madhya Pradesh, the largest state of India, has its capital situated in Bhopal. Bhopal is also referred to as the City of Lakes because there are two beautiful lakes located in the city’s centre. The largest mosque of India Taj-ul-Masjid is also situated in this city. At the same time, Bhopal is also known for the most extensive gas tragedy, “The Bhopal Gas Tragedy”, in 1984.
Founded by Paramara king Raja Bhoj in the 11th century, Bhopal was earlier known as Bhojpal, after a pal (dam) constructed by one of the king’s ministers. The city is a confluence of old-world cultural heritage and new-age urban planning. Still retaining the imprints of the powerful female rulers, who reigned between 1819 and 1926, in various monuments like the Gohar Mahal, the city is a unique amalgamation of the old and the new. It also bears footprints of the Mughals and the Afghans and showcases influences of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism woven together with perfection.
Bhopal has retained its old-world charm despite industrialization, with the old part of the city being full of narrow alleyways and crammed markets, while the new part of the city is better planned and is full of parks and gardens.
Bhopal history dates back to 11 Century AD when Raja Bhoja built it. It has witnessed a great war between Mughals and Local Emperors. Where Mughals won and took over the city. They ruled till their last emperor, Aurangzeb’s death, in 1707. Aurangzeb’s Afghan soldier Dost Mohammad took advantage of his death and acquired Bhopal. It was a small princely state and also survived several wars. He made Bhopal the second largest Muslim state during the rise of British power in India. He then shook hands with Britishers and fought against Marathas in 1817. Bhopal was a separate state in 1947 during independence. In 1949 city took it into India.
Bhopal reached its height of culture, arts and public works under the enlightened rule of the Begums, a 19th-century dynasty of Muslim women.
Mamola Bai, not officially recognized as Begum (the Women Emperor) because she worked on behalf of her late husband’s ineffective sons. She ruled from 1744-95 for around 50 years from behind the curtain, i.e., Purdah.
The rule of Begums was officially accepted when Qudsia Begum, an 18-year old girl, took over the control in 1819 after her husband’s assassination. She ruled till 1837. She was illiterate but brave enough to refuse the purdah tradition and declared that her 2-year-old daughter Sikander would be the successor of Bhopal and rule like her. No male member of the family dared to challenge her decision. She also invested in public works, building the Jama Masjid of Bhopal and the Gohar Mahal’s beautiful palace.
In 1844 Sikander Begum rose to power and ruled till 1868. Her name in Arabic means ‘Alexander the great’. She has great physical strength and courage. She was trained in the martial arts, fought in many battles, and never observed the Purdah.
Her successor, Shah Jahan Begum (1868-1901), proved a marked contrast to her powerful mother, but she still left a considerable mark in architecture, music, poetry and the arts.
Sultan Jahan Begum, daughter of Shah Jahan Begum, succeeded her in 1901, ruling until the succession of her son (and the end of the Begums) in 1926.
Bhopal is a district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The headquarters of the district is Bhopal which is also the state capital.
How to reach Bhopal?
Bhopal is well connected with most parts of the country via air, rail and road. It is connected to bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. While also close to tourist places like Bhimbetka, Sanchi, and Ujjain. Here is how you can reach Bhopal:
Bhopal airport, also known as Raja Bhoj Airport, is 15km northwest of the central city. It receives both domestic and international flights. Major cities are directly connected to Bhopal. Local transport like taxi or cycle rickshaw is readily available from the airport to reach the airport.
Bhopal Junction, located near Hamidia Road, is the central railway station of Bhopal. It is well-linked with major cities of the country because it is on one of the two main railway lines that stretches from Delhi to Mumbai. Local buses and auto-rickshaws are always available to reach the city centre.
Extensive bus services, both state-run and private run, are available in the city to connect you interstate and intrastate. There is no time when you can’t find a bus service to go somewhere.
When to visit Bhopal?
The temperatures during this time are over 40°C, making it very difficult for day-long travelling. Hence, it is advisable not to visit the city during the summer months.
July – September
In these months, when the rains hit the city and the city blossoms under the raindrops. If you like getting wet in the rain, then the city would do wonders to your satisfaction.
Bhopal can be best visited during the winter months from October to February. The weather is moderate, and travelling across the plains would prove to be an excellent experience.
There are many famous and spoken languages in Bhopal. But Hindi is the most important and the official language of the state. So this language enjoys a special status in the capital city as well.
Bhopal experiences hot summers, dry winters and humid monsoons all the years. Temperature can go up to 30°C high during the peak summer season in May. Rainy or monsoon season take temperature up to 25°C, and moisture is relatively high. The monsoon season receives high precipitation, recurrent thunderstorms and flooding. In contrast, winter has a temperature around 16°C with little or no rain. Winter are chilly and bright; sometimes, it may plunge close to freezing on several nights.
Fairs and Festivals in Bhopal
Fairs and festivals are an indispensable part of Indian heritage. The main festivals celebrated in Bhopal are Diwali, Ram Navmi, Eid, etc. These are similar to festivals that are celebrated all over the parts of the country. But there are some festivals that you can enjoy only in Bhopal. They are like:
Ijtima, an important festival of Muslims, is celebrated for three days every year on a big scale in Bhopal. Muslim pilgrims from diverse regions of India come to the city to celebrate this auspicious festival. Large fairs were also held during Ijtima.
National Drama Festival
It is a festival of talent. All forms of artists, poets, writers, etc., took part in different shows and showcased their talent on a bigger platform. Artists gather in huge numbers. Folk dance, cultural activities and songs add glitter to the festival.
Bharat Bhavan Summer Festival
It is a cultural fest where traditional music, songs, poem concerts, folk dance, art exhibitions are conducted. It is one of the key festivals which has gained immense appreciation and recognition—celebrated with great zest and enthusiasm every year.
It is the most admired festival and celebrated with great zeal. It has become a platform for the promotion of classical music. Dhrupad Samaroh provides unique opportunities for classical music. Eminent and noted artists present their soul-stirring vocal and music performance. Classical music lovers come across the different corners of the world to cherish and experience the live performance of their favourite artists.
Lokrang is celebrated every year on Republic Day. It is a festival of 5 days which attracts tourists and other cultural activity lovers from across the globe. This colourful festival has tribal and folk programs, cultural activities and performing arts, which enhance and show the traditional flavour of Madhya Pradesh.
Transportation or Stay to prefer
Never get worried about where to stay if you are visiting Bhopal. This city has plenty of luxurious, mid-range and budget-friendly hotels all over the city. Budget hotels are found near the railway station and bus stand. You can find mid-range hotels all over the city while and can find luxury hotels around the main city centre. Some hotels are built on heritage properties, which give you an authentic look while you live there.
Places to visit in Bhopal
Bhopal leaves you mesmerized once you visit there. There are places that you can visit to get a glimpse of the Indian heritage. You can see to:
- Upper Lake.
- Van Vihar National Park.
- Moti Masjid
- Udayagiri Caves.
- Sanchi Stupa.
- Shaukat Mahal.
- Bhimbetka caves.
- Lakshmi Narayana Temple.
- Lower Lake.
- Birla Museum.
- Bhojpur Temple.
- Gohar Mahal.
- Raisen Fort.
- Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum.
- National Museum of Mankind.
- Rani Kamlapati Palace.
- Sair Sapata.
- Bharat Bhawan.
- Kanha Fun City.
- Bijasan Mata Temple.
- Shaurya Smarak.
- Islamnagar Fort.
- Halali Dam.
- Sardar Manzil.
- State Archeological Museum.
- Jama Masjid.
Cuisines to taste in Bhopal
Hindu and Muslims have coexisted in the city harmoniously since the beginning. It is reflected in their cuisine too. Non- Vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are served in the town. Bhopal’s special spicy meat delicacies, especially the curries and the kebabs, are the gift of Mughals to the city. Vegetarian cuisine is mostly mildly and has a distinct taste in it.
Bhopal has enormous multi-cuisine restaurants in the city as well as international fast-food chains like McDonald’s.
Sweets like Bafla, Sewaiya and fruits are an important part of the meal. Eating paan after meals is a habit of locals. Must try these Bhopali paans when you visit Bhopal.
Things to do in Bhopal
When you explore any region, you find an ample amount of things to do. Which are meant for everyone irrespective of age, gender, or personal interest. So, below are lists of some fun things to do in Bhopal:
- Ropeway ride.
- Taste the Nawabi cuisine of Bhopal.
- Hang on at zip lines at Kerwa Lake.
- Spend a wonderful Evening at Sair Sapata
- Enjoy Mughlai and Peshawari Cuisine at Za-Aiqa
- Visit Dhai-Seedi-Ki-Masjid, one of the Smallest mosques in Asia.
- Have Coffee at Vintage Indian Coffee House
- Do some shopping at DB City Mall.
Souvenirs to buy in Bhopal
Bhopal is a tale of two cities. The northern town boasts of its rich culture with fascinating mosques, grand Havelis, and crowded markets. The southern part portrays a more sophisticated role with luxury hotels, beautiful wide roads, and restaurants offering multi-cuisine to cherish. The city proves to be a paradise for shopaholics. You can find the best Zardozi sarees, exquisite Mulberry silk, handlooms, most acceptable Tussar Silk and well-crafted souvenirs to offer.
The Mandana and Pithora paintings are a delight for art enthusiasts. You can also have amazing Shammi Kebabs, Gulab Jamun, Mewa Bati, delicious Dahi Bade, Khopra Pak, Malpua and Imarti, etc. End your shopping fiesta with the authentic Bhopali Paan to give your trip the right Bhopali touch!
Some popular places that you can visit to have shopping:
- Bittan Market.
- Mrignayani Emporium.
- Habibganj Market.
- New Market.
- Sarafa Bazaar.
- Tibetan Sweater Market.