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Tourist Places To Visit In Bhopal
Bhopal is a city of stark contrasts in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is split into two parts by its lakes. In the North there is the old Bhopal where there are fascinating mosques and serpentine lanes. There are chowks and milling crowds beside bazaars that are crowded and havelis that hark back to the good old days. To the South lies the New Bhopal that is modern, with its wide roads and modern shopping complexes or malls. There are plush hotels too besides upmarket restaurants that lie nestled in the posh Arera and Shamla Hills.
Both the old and the new Bhopal are vibrant and they leave you with powerful memories. As the capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal is a mix of historical palaces and ancient monuments. There are intriguing museums and exquisite shrines which speak of the grand days gone by. Bhopal is surely among the most attractive cities in Central India. Our exclusive travel guide on Bhopal lays down the best tourist places to visit in this great city.
The Upper and Lower Lakes
The Upper Lake is known as Bhojtal after the city’s founder. It is among the best places to visit in Bhopal. It is also a fabulous site for enjoying a fine picnic with your family and friends. Legend has it that the lake was created by Raja Bhoj when he was advised by a saint to combine the water from numerous tributaries into a tank and bathe in it in order to get rid of his severe skin ailment. Today, Upper Lake or Bada Talaab, as it was once called, has been renamed Bhojtal in the honour of Raja Bhoj. The lake is also the oldest among all manmade lakes in India.
Very close to the Upper Lake is the Lower Lake, also known as Chhota Talaab. The lakes are not only excellent as a tourist attraction, but their water also meets about 40% of the daily needs of the city’s residents. Besides, the lakes have connotations that are both cultural and religious. It is normal to see the local people offer their prayers on these shores on different festivals.
The lakes of Bhopal, with lush forests and majestic hills flanking them, offer diverse activities of recreation. These include boating, kayaking and canoeing. The Kamla Park, adjacent to the lakes, with its tranquil environment, is used extensively by the local people in search of a good outing.
The Famous Moti Masjid
On account of its shining white marble flooring, Moti Masjid is also known as the Pearl Mosque. One of Bhopal’s most interesting and popular sites to visit, the mosque was built in 1860 during the rule of a truly liberated woman in Bhopal’s history, Sikander Jehan Begum. The popular Begum worked constantly for the progress of Bhopal and built several bridges, roads and monuments.
The mosque today bears testimony to the untiring efforts of that glorious part in Bhopal’s history, when the city was ruled by Begums. Moti Masjid is among the important destinations of pilgrimage for Muslims and all the others that come from far to offer prayers. Moti Masjid is beautiful, with its red minarets and spikes in gold. One can reach it quite easily, located as it is in the old city’s centre. A gourmet must also taste some of the delicious foods Bhopal has on offer in the markets that line the street around the sacred shrine.
Van Vihar National Park
The Van Vihar National Park, that was established 40 years ago, is among the most popular National Parks located in Central India. The park is right next to the Upper Lake and is touted as one of the most popular places one can visit in Bhopal. It attracts nature photographers, lovers of nature as well as wildlife enthusiasts right through the year. To the first time visitor, the park appears to be a mix between a wildlife sanctuary and a zoo where one can see not only herbivores such as sambars, chital and blackbucks but also carnivores that include tigers and leopards, panthers and lions besides gharials and bears. These are all bounded by walls and trenches and enclosed in a habitat that is just right for them.
The park also has an abundance of birdlife which is attracted to the wetlands of the park. These birds include teals and herons, pintails and spoonbills besides pied kingfishers among several others. If you visit the park in winter you may also see migratory birds from Europe, Siberia and Japan. The park is highly recommended for all lovers of nature.
World Famed National Museum of Mankind
The National Museum of Mankind, established in 1977, covers 200 acres of land and is very near the Upper Lake. This prestigious world famous museum is unique in India in that it houses a fine collection of rock shelters going back to the Palaeolithic age or around 2.6 million years ago. In this museum one is able to make a visual assessment of the evolution of humans right from pre-historic days till modern age. Here you can see an exhibition of life-sized dwellings of diverse ethnic tribes along with the building materials that had been used and a variety of other objects related to those times.
Visitors will get to see a depiction of a desert village of Rajasthan, a village from the Indian coast as well as a village from the Himalayas. The museum is absolutely amazing. It is fascinating and intriguing as well as educative. All visitors must find time to see it.
The Priceless Bhimbetka Caves
These prehistoric caves dated 30,000 years ago are just 45 km away from Bhopal. Inside the caves are a treasure trove of man’s early attempt at art. The caves that were discovered accidentally in 1957-58 by Dr Wakankar, represent rock paintings drawn during the period between Palaeolithic and Medieval ages. What is remarkable is the excellent condition of these rock paintings. It is because of the fine condition of these paintings that archaeologists and historians are carrying out detailed research on the social practices and lifestyle of the early humans in this area. Some of the subjects of the priceless paintings include hunting and communal dances besides partying, drinking and staging animal fights.
What makes these paintings most attractive is that vibrant colours such as reds and greens, yellows and whites were used to create them. Further, vegetable dyes and leaves, manganese and red sandstone have been the source of the paints used. One can admire the creativity and intelligence of these simple men from the Stone Age who could reach such high levels of beauty.
The Stunning Lakshmi Narayan Temple
One cannot visit Bhopal and not see the stunning Lakshmi Narayan Temple. Also known as Birla Mandir, this temple is one among 18 temples that have been built all over India by the well known Birla family. Sitting on top of the Arera Hills, the temple is very near the Birla Museum. It has an attractive yellowish appearance and from here one can enjoy some of the most amazing views of the lakes and their surroundings. Surrounding the grand temple there are well manicured lawns with beautiful flower beds and gushing fountains.
The reigning deity is Goddess Laxmi while Lord Vishnu adorns the temple’s sanctum sanctorum. There is also a shrine that is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and her consort Lord Shiva within the premises of the temple. Hundreds of devotees and pilgrims as well as tourists in Bhopal visit this very beautiful temple which is among the most popular places to visit in Bhopal.
Sanchi Stupa is a heritage monument under UNESCO. Located 45 km from Bhopal, Sanchi Stupa is in the Raisen district of MP. The Stupas and several other impressive Buddhist structures date back to the Mauryan Era which covers the period between 300 BC and 1100 AD. Besides the striking beauty of the Stupas, these also hold a special religious significance for the Buddhists that come from all over the world to visit the stupa that enshrines relics related to Buddha.
Sanchi Stupa was built from a single piece of rock during 300 BC by Asoka, the Mauryan Emperor. Visitors are impressed with the beauty of the sacred stupa with its stunning design and graceful architecture. Later on during the period of the Sunga dynasty and thereafter in 100 BC further additions were made to the venerated stupa by way of attractive railings and ornate gateways which further improved upon the magnificence of the stupa. There is a museum here as well and this showcases diverse artefacts that were found during excavations carried out during 1912-1919. This is one place in Bhopal that a visitor cannot afford to miss.
Rani Kamlapati Palace
In the old days, Bhopal was a small village and a part of the Gond Kingdom. Rani Kamlapati, a woman of extraordinary beauty, was the wife of Nizam Shah, the Gond tribal ruler. In order to win over Kamlapati, a rival of her husband went to the extent of poisoning him. In sheer desperation, Kamlapati sought the support of Dost Muhammad Khan, who was the ruler of Malwa Province. Dost Mohammad readily agreed to help Kamlapati in exchange of Bhopal which he later converted as his capital.
This palace was where Kamlapati lived as the queen of Bhopal. The palace was built on the banks of the lower lake around 1680. Today there is a beautiful park known as the Kamla Park next to the palace. The complete architectural details of the palace are available in a digitized form for those that may be interested in further research regarding the palace. The palace is surely worth a visit.