Rising from being a small village in the 18th century to the bustling capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal has indeed come a long way on the path of development. A colourful history precedes the city with many legends associated to its beginning. The city saw the rule of the Mughals, Marathas and the British as well. Lcated in the Malwa Plateau, Bhopal experiences humid climatic conditions, making it ideal for travel during the post-monsoon and winter months.
The beautiful city of Bhopal is considered to be one of the greenest urban areas in the country. The city is also referred to as the 'City of Lakes' for its many natural as well as artificial water bodies. The city has many local attractions that travellers can explore and also opens the window to other nearby areas of interest. Take a look at some of the places to visit in and around Bhopal in our travel guide.
One of the most striking structures in the city is the Taj-ul-Masajid mosque. The largest mosque in Madhya Pradesh, this beautiful structure is a must-visit place in Bhopal. The mosque has an attractive pink facade and tall minarets. The marble domes in white are another striking feature of the mosque. The 'Crown of Mosques', Taj-ul-Masajid sees a large congregation of devotees during festivals and other key occasions.
Photo Courtesy: Abhishek Mishra
Lower Lake, Bhopal
Among the places to visit in Bhopal, the city of lakes is the Chotta Talab or Lower Lake. It is an artificial water body created to add beauty to the city layout back in the year 1794 by Chote Khan, a minister at court. The Lower Lake along with the Bada Talab or Upper Lake form the Bhoj Wetland and is vital to both the eco-system and tourism. However, increased pollution and drainage activities are worrying.
Photo Courtesy: Shivanjan Choudhury
Van Vihar National Park
An interesting place to visit in Bhopal is the Van Viahar National Park, though it is more like a zoo, the place has been given the status of a national park for its various unique features. None of the animals are captured from the forests and are rather orphaned animals or those given by other zoos. The animals are kept in close proximity to their natural habitats and special fencing is done only for carnivores. Herbivores are allowed to roam free providing an interesting experience for visitors. The lush greenery of the forest zoo also has a variety of avian and reptile life.
Photo Courtesy: Shivapratap Gopakumar
Bhimbetka rock shelters
A place of interest near Bhopal is the Bhimbekta Rock Shelters, located at a distance of 45 km. The caves are proof of the earliest life in the Indian subcontinent. The unique caves that depict rock paintings that are considered to be over 30,000 years old are protected as a World Heritage Site. The vast archaeological site has rock cave structures that point to various time periods and is an educating and exciting visit for all. The paintings mostly depict animals and the hunting rituals. Early traces of dance is also found in these paintings.
Photo Courtesy: Bernad Gagnon
One of the temples built by the Birla family, the central deity of worship is Lord Lakshminarayan. The amazing temple structure like many other Birla temples is built in white marble. Interestingly, the temple has small construction work that is ongoing. The belief is that if the temple work stops it will beget ill-luck. Make sure to visit the temple not just to seek blessings but to admire the lovely temple as well.
Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon
A place of interest to visit in Bhopal is the Bharat Bhavan. Built by the Madhya Pradesh government, it is a unique combination of museum, arts centre and cultural complex. Thrown open to public in the year 1982, Bharat Bhavan sits facing the Bhojtal. The complex has many key attractions for lovers of art and culture to explore, including; the art gallery, tribal museum, libraries of books and music, art workshops, etc. Various artists, writers and prominent personalities are hosted at Bharat Bhavan providing a fantastic ground for interaction with the public. It is situated close to the railway station and at a distance of 12 km from the airport.
Photo Courtesy: Jean Pierre Dalbera
Among the popular tourist places to visit near Bhopal is Sanchi, popular for the attractive Sanchi Stupa. Located at a short distance of under 50 km from the city, Sanchi houses the most ancient stone structure in the country. The large Stupa built over Buddhist relics was commissioned during the rule of Ashoka. The later rulers such as Sungas and Satavahana also added to the original structure. The lovely carvings and intricate gateways or Toranas are worth a close observation. The Sanchi Stupa makes for an interesting one-day trip from Bhopal city.
Photo Courtesy: Raveesh Vyas
Food, Shopping and Stay
A large number of restaurants serve to a variety of cuisines in Bhopal. You can start with the street chaat and also get a taste of Mughalai cuisine ranging from biryanis to kababs at the various popular restaurants in the city. Some popular restaurants include Manohar restaurant, WindZ Cafe, Jehanuma Palce, Generation next, etc.
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Shopping in the city is a must-do activity for the variety of local products, including; the embroidered bags and purses, shawls, crafts, etc. Visit government run emporiums for art products . The area Lakherapura is known for its products of various fabrics.
Photo Courtesy: Stefan Krasowki
How to Reach
By Road: Bhopal city is well-connected by a vast network of state and national highways such as the NH-4, NH-59, SH-18, etc.
By Rail: The Bhopal Railway Junction is a major railhead and has many regular and direct trains connecting the city to various destinations in the country.
By Air: The Raja Bhoj Airport has separate sections servicing flights for both domestic and international destinations. Flights run regularly to key cities in India, including; Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, etc.
Photo Courtesy: Nagarjun Kandukuru