Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh state and the administrative headquarters of Bhopal District Nand Bhopal division. Bhopal is known as the
for its various natural as well as artificial lakes and is also one of the greenest cities in India. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming market places and fine old mosques and palaces still bear the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers; among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices.
It has two very beautiful big lakes, collectively known as the Bhoj Wetland. These lakes are the Upper Lake (now renamed to Bhojtal) and the Lower Lake. Locally these are known as the Bada Talab and Chota Talab respectively. The catchment area of the Upper Lake is 360 km² while that of the Lower Lake is 9.6 km². The Upper Lake drains into the Kolar River. The Van Vihar National Park is a national park situated besides the Upper Lake. Bordered along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of the city. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its marketplaces and fine old mosques and palaces still bears the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers, among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices. It is greener and cleaner than most cities in the country.
Few state capitals in India have a history as eventful as Bhopal. The city of Bhopal has witnessed many changes since it was found by the Afghan soldier Dost Mohammed in the year 1708. The city has been through many phases, gentle as well as turbulent, prosperous as well as disastrous. Bhopal has been a city in which one finds traces of cultures as different as those of Buddhists, Hindus, Moguals and Afghans, all of which have been blended to perfection, providing Bhopal a distinct identity.
Bhopal is also the house of art and culture in Madhya Pradesh, and the Bharat Bhavan which sits atop the Shamla Hills, is a prime example of that. Designed by Charles Correa, the museum houses an art gallery, a repertoire company and libraries of poetry, classical and folk music. and since Madhya Pradesh has a large concentration of adivasis (tribals), a visitor at the Tribal Habitat in Bhopal gets a feel of village life in the state.
However, the most interesting facets of the district are the spectacular cave paintings at Bhimbetka, a short distance away from the city of Bhopal. Etched in rock, some of the work is more than 30,000 years old, while the more recent ones belong to the medieval period. The cave paintings are valuable, not just for their artistic merit but also because they constitute a treasure trove of information on the pre-historic age.
Although Bhopal is not considered to be as culturally evolved as Gwalior, the city is bursting at the seams with history, and walking down its narrow alleys is like sitting in a time machine and going back into the past.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
The city's shops are famous for traditional Bhopali crafts; you will find exquisite silver jewellery, beautifully-fashioned beadwork, sequined and embroidered velvet purses and cushions. The city is a great place to visit for non-vegetarians, thanks to long years of Islamic rule.
The chief delicacies are the spicy achar gost (pickled lamb), the sumptuous keemas (minced meat), the delectable rogan josh (mutton dish) and a variety of pulaos (aromatic rice) - enough to make even the most fastidious eater lick his lips. However, the culinary delight that the city is most famous for is the Bhopali Paan (betel leaf) which both men and women chew with relish.
Places to see in Bhopal
Bhojpur that is just a few miles away from the city. Bhojpur houses a magnificent Shiva Temple, and apparently was also the site of a huge lake that was destroyed by Hoshang Shah, the ruler of Malwa in mid-15th century. 6km north of Bhopal is Ashapuri which has some old Jain temples. and about 45km from the city is the marvellous Chiklod Palace.