Bhopal


Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is a fascinating amalgam of scenic beauty, old historic city and modern urban planning. It is situated around two artificial lakes amidst picturesque settings and is also known as the city of lakes. It is the 11th century city Bhojpal, founded by Raja Bhoj, but the present city was established by an Afghan soldier, Dost Mohammed (1707-1740). His descendants built Bhopal into a beautiful city. The city is famous for silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions. The two lakes of Bhopal still dominate the city, and are indeed its nucleus. Bordered along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of the city. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile.

History of Bhopal
Even after India’s independence from British clutches, Madhya Pradesh continued to be ruled by HH Nawab Hamidullah Khan who had been titled ‘Aala Hazrat’. He was such a pro-British polished diplomat who had his personal influence not only over the heads of the remaining states, but over the eminent national leaders of the independent India also. During all such odd & unfavorable circumstances, a group of nationalists young people of Bhopal took the hard task of not to allow the Bhopal State be another detached fragment of the country, like Pakistan. They chose the power of pen and print to communicate the truth before people of the state, to face the atrocities of the misadministration, and to fulfill their pledge. In this way, "Nai Raah", a weekly Hindi journal (later followed by its Urdu version too) was started with the motive to raise the voice of people of Bhopal State, to move for merger. "Nai Raah" which very soon became the most popular journal of the state with status of the mouthpiece of people of Bhopal State, conveyed and propagated the smoldering fire in the hearts of downtrodden and suffering public of the state to each & every nook & corner in a such a way that the entire state ablazed to react actively in a non-violent and planned way against the misadministration so as to lead to the merger of the state in independent India. Ultimately Sardar Patel had to intervene on behalf of the union government to pressurize for the much awaited merger. As a result, the agreement of the merger of the Bhopal State in the union of the independent India was signed on 30th April 1949 to be effected from 1st June 1949.

The Bhopal State which thus joined to the mainstream of our developing independent nation on 1st June 1949 subsequently became capital of Madhya Pradesh.

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Places of Interest
Taj Ul Masjid - believed to be the largest mosque in the country, this pink towering mosque was commenced by Shah Jahan Begum, (1868-1901) Bhopal's eighth ruler. The work of the mosque was incomplete on her death and the construction could only resume in 1971. The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, the three white domes and the two white domed massive minarets. Its broad façade, spacious courtyard and smooth marble floors are impressive. A three-day ' Ijtima', a congregation of Muslims in India, held here annually, draws people from all over the country.

Chowk-Shopping Place - located in the heart of the old city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques and havelis, reminders of bygone era. The shops in its narrow alleys are treasure troves of traditional Bhopali crafts, silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions. An excellent place for purchasing traditional crafts.

Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil - Shaukat Mahal is situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the city. Its mixture of architectural styles in Occidental idioms sets it apart from the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. It was designed by a Frenchman, said to be a descendant of a subsidiary of the Bourbon kings of France. Post-Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to a charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.

Upper and Lower Lakes - The legendary Raja Bhoj is credited with the construction of these two lakes. The Upper Lake which is six sq. km. in area, is divided from the Lower by an over bridge. Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s, Yacht Club on the Upper and Lower Lakes provide facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats. The fish-shaped aquarium, facing the Lower Lake houses a number of species of fish in all shapes and sizes. Van Vihar is a safari park located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake. It has a rich variety of animals and birds.

Government Archaeological museum - Situated to the south of the lower lake, on the Banganga Rd this Museum has a fine collection of sculptures from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. The collections include paintings of various schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh Caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha.

Bharat Bhawan - Established in 1982, Bharat Bhawan a center for the creative and performing arts, is one of the most unique national institutes in India. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa and located in the Shamla hills on the banks of a lake, it is regarded as one of the most important centres for the preservation of traditional folk art. The center houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theatre, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music.

Tribal Habitat (Museum of Man) - An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located at Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya on Shamla Hills, the Tribal Habitat is a presentation of actual-size dwellings typical of contemporary tribal cultures in various states of India. The exhibition gives a complete insight into the architectural features of the tribal houses with elaborately displayed interiors. There are craft and pottery demonstrations in the exhibition.

Laxmi Narayan Temple & Museum - Also known as Birla Mandir, this beautiful Vaishnavite temple on the Arera Hills has an excellent museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsour and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The stone sculptures are mainly of Vishnu, Siva and their consorts and incarnations. There is also a small selection of terracotta exhibits from Kausambi.

Regional Science Centre - Regional Science Centre, located on the Shamla Hills, houses a planetarium and a science museum with about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in 'Invention' and 'Fun Science' galleries.