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BHOPAL                                         General Information of Bhopal

Situated on the 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja, Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. It is situated in the Malwa region and like Rome is built on seven hills. It presents a multi-faceted profile and is a culturally active city. Apart from its natural beauty, Bhopal is famous for its mosques. But is also known, sadly, for the largest industrial disaster or the Gas Tragedy, struck it in 1984

Bharat Bhawan: One of the most unique national institutes in India, Bharat Bhawan is a centre for the performing and visual art. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa, the contours of Bharat Bhawan merge in exquisite harmony with the landscape creating a visual impact of spacious and national elegance. The centre houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theater, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. Open from 2 pm to 8 pm every day except Mondays.

Upper and Lower Lakes: The Upper Lake is divided from the Lower by an overbridge and is six sq. km. in area. Madhya Pradesh Tourism's Yacht Club on the Upper and Lower Lakes provide facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats on the two lakes.

Van Vihar: This safari-park is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, with at 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.

Tribal Habitat (Museum of Man): An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located on Shamla Hills, the Tribal Habitat is a presentation of actual-size dwellings typical of contemporary tribal cultures in various states of India. The exhibition highlights architectural features and has elaborately displayed interiors. The surroundings have been reconstructed to match some of the interesting environmental features of tribal villages. The habitat is open every day expect on Mondays and national holidays, from 10 am to 6 pm.

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.

Laxminarayan Temple and Museum: Also known as Birla Mandir, this beautiful temple on the Arera Hills has a museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsour and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays.

Regional Science Centre: Basically a science museum, located on the picturesque Shamla Hills, Regional Science Centre houses about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in `Invention' & `Fun Science' galleries, and a `Taranmandal' (Planetarium). The museum remains open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm on all days except Mondays.

Chowk: In the heart of the old city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques and havelis, reminders of 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.

Aquarium: Facing the Lower lake, the fish-shaped aquarium houses a number of fascination species of fish in all shapes and sizes.

Taj-ul-Masajid: Said to be the largest mosque in the country, the building of this towering edifice was begun by Shah Jehan Begum (1868-1901) but was incomplete on her death. This great queen, Bhopal's eighth ruler, left many monuments in the city and to her goes the credit for Bhopal's postal system, railways and waterworks. After her death, lack of funds prevented the completion of the masjid and construction was resumed only in 1971. The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, broad facade, spacious courtyard and smooth marble floors. A three-day Ijtima congregation held here annually draws people from all over the country.

Jama Masjid: Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque, built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum.

Moti Masjid: Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikandar Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.

Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil : Situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city, Shaukat Mahal is an architectural curiosity. Its mixture of styles in Occidental idioms sets it apart from the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. It was designed by a Frenchman, said to be a descendant of an offshoot of the Bourbon kings of France. Post-Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant once-opulent Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.

Gohar Mahal: 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.
 
Excursion

Islamnagar: 11 km away and on the Bhopal-Berasia Road, Islamnagar was the palace of Bhopal's Afghan rulers and was built by Dost Mohammed Khan. Formal gardens surround the palace and pavilion. The latter, a synthesis of Hindu and islamic decorative art, has columns lavishly embellished with floral motifs. Other monuments to see are the hamam of the Chaman Mahal and the double-storeyed Rani Mahal. 

How to Reach

By Air: Regular flights connect Bhopal with Delhi, Gwalior, Indore and Mumbai.

By Rail: Bhopal is on the main Delhi-Madras main line. Major trains going from Bombay to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal.

By Road: Regular bus services connect Bhopal with Indore (186 km), Mandu (285 km), Ujjain (188 km), Khajuraho (383 km), Pachmarhi (195 km), Gwalior (423 km), Sanchi (46 km) and Jabalpur (295 km) and Shivpuri (311 km).


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