BHOPAL, CAPITAL OF MADHYA PRADESH, is fascinating amalgam of scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapat, founded by Raja Bhojapal. The founder of the existing city was, however, an Afghan soldier of fortune. Dost Mohammed (1708-1740). Fleeing from Delhi in the chaotic period that followed Aurangzeb's death, Dost Mohammed encountered the beautiful Gond queen Kamlapati, who sought his aid after the murder of her consort. A charming legend relates how the queen would recline in a lotus that would drift across the lake on moonlit nights. The tow lakes of Bhopal still dominate the city, and are indeed itsnucleus; along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of a city.
Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming marketplaces and fine oldmosques and palace still bears the aristocratic imprint of its former-rulers, among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with-its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenuse andstreamlined modern edifices. Jama Masjid have Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum. Moti Masjid is Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikander Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.The Taj-ul-Masajid is one of the largest mosques in Asia, built by Nawab Shahjehan Begum around a courtyard with a large tank in the centre and with an imposing double storeyed gate-way with 4 recessed archways and 9 imposing cusped multifoiled openings in the main prayer hall. The Quibla wall in the prayer hall is carved with 11 recessed arches, while the mimber is made of black basalt. The structure is enlivened by the limpid expanse of water in the tank outside the northern wall. The monumentality of this structure was much greater originally when it faced the towering bastions of the Fatehgarh Fort. A three-day Ijtima congregation held here annually draws people from all over the country.
Situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake is Gohar Mahal, which is an architectural gem dating back to the times of Kudsia Begum, also known as Gohar Begum, who built this sprawling palace in 1820. The Mahal is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
One of the most unique national institutes in India, Bharat Bhawan is a centre for the performing and visual arts. Designed by renowned architect, Charles Correa, the contours of Bharat Bhawan merge in exquisite harmony with the landscape creating a visual impact of spacious and natural elegance. The centre houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theater, indoor and outdoor auditorium, a rehearsal room and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. Open from 2 pm to 8 PM everyday except Mondays.
This safari-park is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, with an area of 445 hectares. In these natural surroundings, wildlife watchers can view a variety of herbivorous and carnivorous species. Open everyday, except Tuesday, from 7-11 am and 3-5.30 PM
Upper and Lower Lakes
The Upper Lake is divided from the Lower Lake by an overbridge. M. P. Tourism's Boat Club on the Upper Lake provides facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.
In the heart of the city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques, havelis, reminders of a 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.
Government Archaeological Museum
A fine collection of sculptures are on display here from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. Highlights of the collection are paintings of various schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Laxmi Narayan Temple and Museum
This beautiful temple on the Arera Hills has a Museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsaur and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm everyday except Mondays. More Museums in Madhya Pradesh
Regional Science Centre
Basically a science museum, located on the picturesque Shamala Hills, Regional Science Centre houses about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in 'Invention' & 'Fun Science' galleries, and a 'taramandal' (Planetarium). The museum remains open from 10.30 am to 6.30 PM on all days except Mondays.