Bhopal: The City Of Parda and Zarda

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Taj-ul-Masjid

Short Info

  • Country: India
  • State: Madhya Pradesh
  • District: Bhopal
  • Area: 298 square kilometers
  • Elevation: 427 metres
  • Population:4 lakhs
  • Pin Code: 462—
  • Telephone Code: 0755
  • Time Zone: GMT plus 5:30

Bhopal
Bhopal is the capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is also known as the Lake City for it consists of a number of natural lakes. Bhopal is one of the greeniest cities of India. The city bears several historical monuments. In fact, the old city has a happy blending of Hindu and Islamic culture tradition and modernity. Bhopal has a Master Control Facility to control the movements of satellites, the second such installation in the country established by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in 2005.

Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh is the central province of India and is the second largest state in India after Rajasthan (it was the largest till the year2000 when Chhattisgarh was carved out of it). Madhya Pradesh borders Uttar Pradesh in the north, Chhattisgarh in the east, Maharashtra in the south and Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west.

History

The city of Bhopal was founded by Paramar king Raja Bhoj of the 11th century AD. The city was originally called ‘Bhoja pal’ after Bhoj and the pal (dam to form lakes surrounding the city). The high days of the city, however, declined with the fall of the Paramaras and the subsequent pillage and plundering.

In early 18th century after the last vestiges of the Mughal Empire collapsed, an Afghan soldier from Orakzai tribe called Dost Mohammad Khan laid out the city newly. He also brought Islamic influence on the culture and architecture of the new city. Later, Dost Mohammad met Queen Kamalapati and went on to establish his hold over the entire region. Bhopal survived Maratha onslaught in the late 18th century and finally signed a peace treaty with the British in 1818.

From 1819-1926, Bhopal was ruled by four women rulers. Qudsia Begum was the first female ruler of modern-day Bhopal, succeeded by Sikandari Begum, followed by Shah Jehan Begum (she was labeled as the ‘First Lady of India’ by the British) and finally Kai Khusrau Jahan Begum was the last female ruler. The Begums said to have started development works in the city in the form of waterworks, railways and postal system. Bhopal was among the last princely states to have signed the Instrument of Accession during the time of India’s independence in 1947. Bhopal joined the Indian Union in May 1949. After independence, Sindhi refugees from Pakistan were accommodated in western suburbs of Bhopal. According to the States Reorganization Act of 1956, Bhopal state was included in the state of Madhya Pradesh and was made its capital.

Geography

The average elevation of Bhopal is almost 500 metres above the sea level. The location of the city is in the Malwa Plateau, north of the upper limit of the Vindhya Mountains in central India. Bhopal consists of several hills including the Idgah and Shyamla hills in the north and Arera hills in the south. Bhopal has two big lakes called the Upper Lake and the Lower Lake (locally called bada talab and Chota Talab, respectively). The Upper Lake drains into Kola River. The two lakes are separated by an overbridge.

Climate
The climate of Bhopal is humid subtropical. Winters are mild and dry while summers are hot. Late October to late march is the winter while summer extends from late-March till June. May is the peak of the summer with the mercury rising to beyond 40 degrees while January is the coldest month. The monsoon starts in late June and continues till September. The monsoon time witnesses about 40 inches of rainfall, frequent thunderstorms and flood. The weather also remains humid during the monsoons. Annual rainfall can amount to about 1146 mm.

Attractions in and around Bhopal

Laxmi Narayan Temple (also known as Birla Mandir) to the south of the Lower Lake

Museum housing valuable sculptures from various places of Madhya Pradesh like Raisen, Sehore, Mandsaur and Shahdol.

Van Vihar National Park located near the Upper Lake which has tigers, leopards, lions, bears

Fish shaped aquarium near the Lower Lake

Kheoni Wild Life Sanctuary, which is located about 125 km from Bhopal.

Taj-ul-Masjid
Taj-ul-Masjid
It is one of the largest mosques in India. Shah Jahan begum started the construction of this mosque but was completed much later by the Government of India.

Moti Masjid
Moti Masjid
This mosque was built by Sikander Jahan Begum in 1860 much in line with Delhi’s Jama Masjid.

Sadar Manzil
Sadar Manzil
Sadar Manzil which used to serve as a public hall during the reign of the early Bhopali rulers.

Delawadi
A picturesque picnic spot

  • Gohar Mahal
  • Purana Kila (part of the 300-year-old fort of Queen Kamalapati)
  • Bharat Bhavan museum housing art gallery and libraries of poetry and music of all forms
  • Tribal Habitat to get a taste of the otherwise tribal-dominated rural lifestyle of Madhya Pradesh
  • Ancient cave paintings at Bhimbetka which is located at Raisen district in Madhya Pradesh, 45 km from Bhopal
  • Bhojeshwar Temple at Bhojpur (known as ‘Somnath of the East’)
  • Jain Temples at Ashapuri
  • Chiklod Palace
  • Shaukat Mahal
  • Laxmi Narayan Temple
  • Udayagiri caves at Vidisha
  • Islamnagar place built by Dost Mohammed Khan
  • Dhai Seedi ki Masjid (one of the smallest mosques in Asia)
  • Manua Bhan Ki Tekri (Mahavir Giri), a Jain pilgrimage centre located at around seven kilometres from Bhopal.
  • Places like Sanchi, Pachmarhi, Khajuraho, Ujjain, Gwalior, Indore, and Mandu are other places in Madhya Pradesh that can be visited from Bhopal.

How to Reach Bhopal

By Air: Raja Bhoj Airport serves Bhopal. It is connected by regular flights from New Delhi, Gwalior, Indore and Mumbai.

By Rail: Bhopal is located at the crossroads of main railway routes connecting several parts of the country, including Mumbai-Delhi and Delhi-Chennai. Vidisha and Hoshangabad railway stations are two major railheads near Bhopal). I tarsi junction is close to Bhopal (77 km).

By Road: Bhopal is connected to Sanchi (46 km), Vidisha, Indore (186 km), Ujjain (188 km), Mandu (292 km) and Jabalpur (295 km) by road. National Highways 12 (Jabalpur-Jaipur) and 86 (Kanpur-Dewas) run through Bhopal. Buses connect Bhopal with cities in other states also.

Culture and Cuisine

Bhopal may not be as famous as Gwalior in cultural terms, but yet it possesses enough cultural beauty to command respect. Bhopali crafts are popular including the beadwork, embroidered velvet purses, silver jewellery and curtains.

Bhopal is also a famous for its culinary delights, like achar gosht (pickled lamb), keemas (minced meat), pulaos, biryani pilaf, korma, Rogan Josh and last but not the least, Bhopali paan (betel leaf) and Bhopali zarda (tobacco product).

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The story of Bhopal remains incomplete without a mention of the infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy of December 1984, considered one of the worst industrial disasters ever seen in the history of the world. In that fateful  incident, the deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked out from the multi-national Union Carbide’s insecticide plant on the outskirts of the city, leaving over 5,000 dead and over 1,00,000 affected by life-long illnesses. Union Carbide agreed to pay 470 million dollars in compensation but that was alleged to be far too little.

Accommodations

Bhopal has several hotels of various ranges, namely:

  • Hotel-noor-us-sabah
  • The Residency Hotel
  • Jehan Numa Palace Hotel
  • Hotel Lake View Ashok
  • Hotel Surya
  • Nisarga Hotel
  • Hotel Amer Palace
  • Hotel Amar Vilas
  • Hotel The Shagun
  • Hotel Ranjits Lakeview
  • Ivy Suites
  • Hotel Sonali Regency
  • The Mark Hotel & Club

Festivals
Every year in January-February, the Manav Sangrahalaya hosts potters’ workshops, music and dance events and open-air plays and theatres. It is mainly an event where the local tribals demonstrate their skills in various ventures. The three-day annual Ijtima that is held at Taj-ul-Masjid is a popular event.

Diwali and Eid
Durga Puja, Vijaya Dashami, Navratri

Industry
Electrical goods, retail, cotton, chemicals and jewellery are some of the major industries based in Bhopal. Besides, flour milling, painting, manufacturing of sports equipments and matches, handicrafts like embroidery works (Zardori) and batuas are also flourishing industries in Bhopal. Automobile conversion is also a major profession.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the largest engineering and manufacturing firm, has a unit in Bhopal. Mandideep is an industrial suburb located to the South of Bhopal and houses units of a number of reputed companies like Procter & Gamble, Fujitsu, Eicher, L&T, HEG, Crompton Greaves Ltd. Bairagarh, a northwestern subsurb of Bhopal on the other hand has developed into major textile hub. Technological hubs too are fast emerging in the city.

Transport
There are nine major bus terminals for long distance bus services in Bhopal. Some of them are Jawahar Chowk Stand, Halalpura Bus Stand, Nadra Bus Stand (in Old City), Piplani Bus Stand and Ayodhya Nagari Bus Stand. Besides these long distance services, there are buses for short distance travel within the city. There are five major railway stations, namely, Habibganj, Misrod, Sukhsewanagar, Mandideep, Nishatpura and Bairagarh.

Facts about Bhopal

Governance of city
Bhopal Municipality Corporation

Religion
Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists

Language
Hindustani, Urdu, English, Marathi, Sindhi, Marwari, Bhopali (customized Hindi of Bhopal). Earlier, Persian was also spoken as aroyal language.

Education
Among the educational institutes of Bhopal lie: Government sponsored schools affiliated to the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education (MPBSE), Kendriya Vidyalayas, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, public and private engineering schools, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Indian Institute of Forest Management, National Judicial Academy and Gandhi Medical College.

Newspapers
Central Chronicle, Nava Bharat

Hospitals
LBS Hospital, Koh E Fiza Hospital, Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal Charitable Hospital, Ayushman Hospital, Kamla Devi Hospital, Shekhar Hospital.

University
Rajiv Gandhi Technical University, Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism, Barkatullah University, National Law Institute University and Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University.

Sports Stadium
Baba Ali stadium and the Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd. Sports Complex, Old Campion Ground (cricket), Tatya Tope Stadium (multi-purpose stadium), Aishbagh Stadium (hockey) and Boat Club, India’s first national sailing club in the Upper Lake. Arrangements for boating and various types of water sports are available here.

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Parmeshwar Dass, works with Namaste India Trip. An avid travel enthusiast by nature, he brings his characteristic zeal and sincerity to all projects he involves himself in. His videography and photography reflect his urge to help fellow travelers who embrace the pleasures and perils of journeys just for the sense of adventure and newness they bring to our otherwise monotonous lives.