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Bhopal Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal - The Destination

Bhopal City

Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is an interesting blend of scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoja. The founder of the existing city was however an Afghan soldier of fortune, Dost Mohammed. Fleeing from Delhi in the chaotic period that followed Aurangazeb's death, Dost Mohammed encountered the beautiful Gond queen Kamalapati, who sought his aid after the murder of her consort.

A  charming legend  relates how the  queen would  rest on lotus barge,

that on moonlit nights, would drift across the lake. The two lakes of Bhopal still dominate the city, and are indeed its nucleus. Little wonder then that Bhopal is called the City of Lakes. The city itself sits on the banks of a vast lake spanning almost 10 square miles, which dominates the landscape and gives it a magnetic, mesmerizing quality. The tranquility of the lake is perhaps responsible for the calm, laid-back attitude that pervades the entire city. Bordered along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of a city.

Once a small, sleepy town with lush forests and relaxed days filled with shatranj (chess), of shikar (hunting), picnics, and quiet fishing trips. Bhopal today offers a versatile profile; the old city with its teeming market places and fine old mosques and palaces still bears the aristocratic impression 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 avenues and streamlined modern edifices and wide, clean, well-lit roads lined with bright, Gulmohar trees.

A trip around the walled city of Bhopal reminds you of the charm of the lives led by the Nawabs and Begums at yore. The mosques and the temples evoke the curiosity of onlookers. Among other attractions is the Laxmi Narayan Temple situated to the south of the Lower Lake on the Arera Hills. The Moti Masjid, built by Sikander Jahan Begum in 1860 A.D., is similar in style to Delhi's Jama Masjid, and has two dark red minarets crowned by golden spikes. The Taj-ul Masjid is a huge pink mosque with two massive white-domed minarets. The Shaukat Mahal, situated in the heart of the walled city, is built in an European style rather than the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. Nearby is the Sadar Manzil, what used to be the hall of public audience of the former rulers of Bhopal. Besides, the Upper and Lower Lakes, and the adjoining zoo called Van Vihar, are well worth a visit while on a trip to this city of lakes.

Bhopal - Facts at a Glance

State : Madhya Pradesh
Area : 284.9 sq kms
Temperature : 3 C – 42 C
Rainfall : 60 inches
Altitude : 523 mts
Language : Hindi, Urdu, English
Best Season : October - March

History of Bhopal

The history of Bhopal dates back to the 11th century A.D., when the legendary King Bhoj built it. It is believed that the name Bhopal is a distortion of the founder's name. However, the region soon came under Mughal rule and remained a part of that empire till the death of the Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D.

After a few years of turmoil, the small princely state of Bhopal and the present-day city, was founded by an Afghan soldier called Dost Mohammad in A.D. 1723. He is said to have assisted Rani Kamalapathi, the queen of the Gond tribals of the Norbada region, in protecting her territory from the attacks at the Rajput Thakurs. Due to the lack of capable male rulers, the Begums of the royal family ruled Bhopal for close to almost a 100 years after that. The Begums were deeply religious and conservative, led very austere lives, and were keenly interested in the administrative aspects of the state. The third Begum, Nawab Sultan Jahan, was one of the most able rulers of the state.

Her son Nawab Hamidullah ascended the masnad (throne) in A.D. 1926, and was deeply involved in the political developments of his time. He had believed it imperative for the princes to remain united during Partition and advocated this strongly in his capacity as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes. Bhopal was one of the last states to sign the 'Instrument of Accession' in A.D. 1947. Thus, it was under him that Bhopal's transformed from a sleepy town into a major developing metropolis.
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