Bhopal – Heart of India

In government of India’s “incredible India” campaign to promote tourism, Madhya Pradesh, one of the largest states of the nation is referred as Hindustan ka dil or the ‘heart of India’. Bhopal, an 11th  century city founded by Raja Bhoj is the capital of the heart of incredible India.

Bhopal can be described as a fine fusion of scenic beauty, urban planning and a rich history. The city in its present form was founded by Dost Mohammed (1707-1740), an Afghan soldier. However it was his descendants who built and carved the aesthetic splendor it showcases today. .

The city today can simply being described as being multi-faceted. Market places still hold the essence and splendor of its former rulers while beautiful mosques that boast of intricate princely carvings dot the old city.

New Bhopal with its parks, gardens, broad & smooth roads and the flourishing greenery are a perfect match to old vintage history. You will be surprised to learn that even after the gas tragedy of 1984, Bhopal is one of the greenest and cleanest cities in the world. The weather is not erratic unlike the northern states and its pleasant all year round however recently summers have become much hotter. The best season to come here is during the monsoons i.e. between May end and July.

Being the capital of one of the major states in India, getting to Bhopal is very easy. All modes of transport from rail to air lead you there. Bhopal lies at a distance of 741 km from Delhi, 789 km from Mumbai and 200 kms from Indore. A number of exciting attractions are located close by and easily reachable by a number of modes of transport. A few places one must visit while in Bhopal are Kanha, Sanchi, Ujjain.

There is a wide variety of hotels ranging from 5 stars like Jahanuma Palace to 2-3 star lodges and Inns. You can easily find a large choice online and pick one that suits your liking and budget.

This grand city boasts of its multiculturalism and plurality in religion with a number of mosques and temples. The Taj-ul Masjid is the largest mosque of the country with a very impressive main hall which has an arched roof, broad façade and smooth marble flooring. The Jama Masjid is located at the centre of the city and its most striking feature is the gold spikes in its minarets. The third mosque, the Moti Masjid is very similar to the Jama Masjid in Delhi and was built in 1860.

The temples in Bhopal are equally inspiring. The Birla temple, situated at the top most point of Bhopal provides a panoramic view of the city and also provides an insight about the temple and the city  through the museum attached to it. The Gufa Temple or the cave temple is another breath taking sight with a large campus and beautiful idols of Indian gods & goddesses.

Other facets of this city include the two enormous lakes; upper and lower. During the rainy months of June and July, there is nothing better than to enjoy a silent boat ride on the upper lake or sit in the lawns surrounding the lower lake, breathing in the fresh air and admiring the picturesque scenery.

An interesting place to visit in Bhopal would be the Maanav Sanghrahalaya or the Museum of Man. It is an all year round open exhibition of tribal house types. It highlights their architectural features and elaborately presents the interiors. Tribal craftsmanship also gets an impetus here. All kinds of hand-made tools, implements and common day usage items made by the tribals are exhibited here.

A very famous tourist attraction is also Van Vihar, where the natural habitat for wild animals is preserved and protected. Tigers, leopards, panthers amongst other wild animals are a treat to watch here. Guided bird-watching tours are also held here sometimes.

It is said that Bhopal is famous for its nawaabs and kebabs. The local food depicts a vast variety of traditional and authentic cuisines. The non -vegetarian fare and kebabs available here are a must try.

All in all, Bhopal is a wonderful city and a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. The capital and nearing areas of the heart of incredible India is definitely a must visit.

Tanaya Malhotra