Divided by a bunch of lakes, Madhya Pradesh’s capital, Bhopal, is an ancient city of Nawabs, slavering to sensational culture and cuisine. That’s one reason to visit the city, while, throughout Bhopal’s distinguished cityscapes, you will also notice beguiling mosques, women in Black Burkhas, and pocket stores selling meat dishes with a rustic aroma. In fact, the city was developed in the early 19th and 20th-century by 4 prominent Queens (Begums) of Bhopal. Therefore, the city carries a prolonged display of Islamic craft. In present times, Bhopal is prospering with upscale markets, ponds, luxurious Palace hotels, bars, transport network and museums worth exploring.
6 Best Things to do in Bhopal, MP’s Glorious Capital
There’s a lot to see and explore in Bhopal, and a 3-day trip should be sufficient to cover most of it. I gathered a few interesting activities, from my recent trip, in 2018, which I highly recommend to travellers stopping over in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital city. Here’s a rundown of 5 best things to try in Bhopal to get a real taste of the Nawabi Shaan or the Royal pride.
1. Stay at a Palace Hotel
When Royal legacy is passed on to future generations, it’s usually marked by a vision to achieve, conquer, and remain invincible. Especially when talking about sprawling Royal Residences, steeped in an unaffordable sheath of Kingly luxuries. One such 18th-century colonial architecture, is the magnificent Noor-Us-Sabah Palace, in Bhopal. Built by kind-hearted Late Col. Rahmanullah Khan Bahadur, a notable Comptroller of the Royal Households, Noor-Us-Sabah Palace was once Her Highness, Begum Sultan Jehan’s favourite abode. Thanks to WelcomHeritage, who have made it possible for a commoner to experience the Royal life, in its most authentic form. Noor-Us-Sabah Palace is ultimate luxury, summed up in a refined privacy, along with phenomenal lake views from the room.
2. Visit Taj-ul-Masjid, Asia’s 2nd-largest Mosque
Shah Jahan Begum, the 3rd Queen to reign in Bhopal, had some serious plans for the city. So, in the 18th-century, she erected world’s largest Mosque in Bhopal and named it Taj-ul-Masjid. Ironically, the pink walls encircling the Fortress-like courtyard of the Mosque, are a great reminder of the feminine dominion which prevailed in the early 19th-century. Get inside the Masjid, and you will find yourself swooning over a 1000-sq-ft prayer hall. Make it to the morning Azan to get the best shot of the towering minarets, and the 27 stunningly edged ceiling domes.
3. Go to see Raja Bhoj Statue in Upper Lake
Folklore has it that Bhopal was originally named by King Bhoj in the 10th CE. Therefore, a visit to this 32 feet statue of Raja Bhoj in Upper Lake is a must. More like a legendary tribute to the King of scholars. King Bhoj was an Indian King who reigned from Malwa province in the early 10th-century. Although, back at that time, Dhar was the capital of Malwa, not Bhopal. If you ever visit Dhar, you may want to take a look at the Bhoj Shala there. In Bhopal, Scholar King Bhoj’s statue symbolises his love for literature, polymath, arts, and sciences. That too, at an outstanding location, in the middle of a beautiful lake.
4. Explore Mahaveer Giri, an Ancient Jain Temple with Caves
Mahaveer Giri or Manua Bhan Ki Tekri is an ancient Jain temple in Bhopal located on the hilltop of Lal Ghati. You can either reach the temple by driving uphill or by taking the ropeway from the base. Originally, Manua Bhan Ki Tekri was built with 7 caves, 1300 feet above the ground level. It was later renamed to Mahaveer Giri by the Governor of MP. Love the fact, that this Jain temple is well-preserved with authorities restricting visitors from taking pictures from inside.
Although, it has recently become a top landmark after a concrete road was built to offer easy access to the hill. This secluded hill is a tribute to Mantua, a jeerer in Emperor Bhoj’s court.
5. Take a trip to the Moti Masjid
Built by Sikander Jahan Begum in the 18th-century, this mosque is a great representation of the bygone Mughal architecture. Moti Masjid, as the name suggests, is an offset pearl White Mosque in Bhopal, built in marble with a grand courtyard on an erect plinth. Other than offering splendid city views, the highlight of Moti Masjid is its 2 red minarets with gold-spiked cupolas, easily spotted from a distance.
6. Explore Van Vihar National Park
Open between 6:30 AM to PM, Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal offers surprising lush views from dusk till dawn. Despite the fact, that the property is more of a zoological park than a national park, there are still plenty of reasons to visit it. In fact, you will be happy to know that the animals residing in this park were either brought in as an orphan or under an exchange program. Which means none of the animals, are intentionally caught from the forest. Unique in its beauty, Van Vihar also features high-security measures for both visitors as well as, the resident animals. The walls, trenches, and chain-link fences also help keep away the poachers.
When foodies set foot, in a new city, their first instinct is to start chasing authentic cuisines, to their roots. Neither am I different nor, is the idea of a foodie’s bucket list. Which, by the way, is best when you stroll through the local food markets. Chhota Talab area, in Bhopal, is that street, which bounds to make you hungry with its flavoursome and aromatic meat dishes. So, to end the Bhopal trip with a treat, this is the place to be!