Unravelling Bhopal: Your One-Stop Guide To The City Of Lakes
Located literally in the heart of India, Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. To say that the place is of historical significance would be a major understatement, as there is such rich heritage, archaeological gems and culture seeped into the very soul of Bhopal, that one cannot help but to feel enriched after visiting the place.
There are plenty of places to see in Bhopal that will satisfy all kinds of travellers. From natural reserves to historic sites, from stunning water bodies to man-made architectural delights, Bhopal will surprise you with how much it has to offer. Let’s unravel the stories and secrets of Madhya Pradesh’s capital city and check out all the popular tourist places in Bhopal.
1. Walk Through The History of Man At The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya
Imagine walking through the entire history of mankind. The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, or simply the National Museum of Man, is one of India’s largest anthropology museums with an open air exhibition. The museum houses exhibitions that document the evolution of man, with an inference into the culture and history of India. The museum is also known as the Tribal Habitat Museum, and exhibits tribal art from the region, and the many stories that these pieces of art narrate. As you walk through the exhibition, it feels like walking through a village through time. The Mythological Trail exhibits some true masterpieces, displaying works of terracotta, wood, stone and metal, and give so much insight into the lives of India’s tribal population. Every exhibit has a hundred stories to tell and it’s a learning to walk through it all.
2. Notice The Writings On The Wall At The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
For those particularly interested in archaeology and history, visit the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, which contains writing from prehistoric times. Set against the Vindhyan Mountains, a short 45 kilometer excursion from the city brings you to the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shelters, which are sandstone saves and rock formations, display paintings from the Mesolithic Period, and provide a deep cultural insight to the region even today. In Hindu Mythology, the place represents the sitting place of Bhima, the hero-deity in the Mahabharata. An adventurous trip to these 243 rock shelters is an enriching experience, as you realise how evolved and complex human history has been, and there is so much still to discover and understand. A walk through this ancient art-gallery will tap your imagination and pique your curiosity multi-fold!
Planning to visit Bhopal?See Bhopal Tour Packages
3. Get Up Close To Wilderness At Van Vihar National Park
One of the most popular tourist places in Madhya Pradesh, the Van Vihar National Park is an insight into the diverse flora and fauna of this central region. The national park was declared so in the year 1983, and is a protected area of land. One should go here to catch some of the most majestic animals in the kingdom, living in their natural habitat. From the regal tiger to the king Lion. From the slender panther to the sneaky hyena, one can find a large number of land mammals to observe. You can also view some of the hundreds of bird species that are either native to the land or migrate through it during winters. The Van Vihar National Park is a window to Madhya Pradesh’s thriving wildlife, and one can only take away memorable experiences and Insta-worthy pictures from this adventure!
4. Take A Heritage Walk & Visit The Taj-ul-Masjid
There are stories hidden in the winding lanes of Bhopal, that can best be discovered with a heritage walk along the old city. There place is rich in history, archaeological wonders and stunning water-side scenes at the multiple natural and man-made lakes. Named after Raja Bhoj, Bhopal is bustling with old markets, is home to the largest mosque in India, the Taj-ul-Masjid, stunning palaces and the gorgeous lakes that divide the city into two contrasting cityscapes. Take a heritage walk along the old city, and come across old palaces belonging to the autocrats from the 19th Century, visit the 2nd largest mosque in Asia, the Taj-ul-Masjid and enjoy the stories from the various periods in history, which makes Bhopal the fascinating city it is today.
5. Walk Along The Man-Made Lake Bhojtal
Bhopal is known to be the City of Lakes, with the largest number of natural and man-made lakes in the country. While each one is unique in its beauty and story, the Bhojtal lake surely merits a mention. The lake provides drinking water for the city of Bhopal, and is a major tourist attraction as well. Also known at the Upper Lake, it was built by King Bhoj of Dhar, to provide water nearer to the city. Enjoy a sunset walk by the lake, take a boat tour or simply relax against the cool breeze, taking in the serenity of the beautiful spot.
6. Get A Taste Of Bhopal’s Exquisite Cuisine
From the early 19th to the early 20th century, Bhopal was a city of autocrats, who ruled with a lot of pizzazz, brought in the arts and glamour to the city, and patronised various artists and scholars. The Nawabs and Begums, the Rajas and Ranis, also brought in expert chefs to cook them decadent meals, and the cuisine created then has carried into the Bhopali cuisine we know and love today. The cuisine, just like its location, represents the heart of India, having borrowed influences from the Mughals to the Marathas, from the kingdom of Awadh to the decadence of Hyderabad. There is an endless list of dishes one must try, but a few that merit a mention are Gosht Pasinde, Bun Kabab, Nalli Nihari, Achari gosht, Mutton Rizali, and oh-so-many more. For vegetarians too, there are a variety of street food options, chhole bhature, vegetarian kababs, and more. A meal in Bhopal is incomplete if it doesn’t end with a Bhopali Paan, and is a perfect end to a delicious culinary outing.
7. Special Mention: Mahastupa, Sanchi
A short excursion to the little down of Sanchi, just about 45 kilometres from Bhopal, lie some of the most prominent Buddhist stupas, containing idols of Buddha. The “Mahastupa” or the Great Stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town of Sanchi is also home to the Gupta Temple, an ancient structure which paved the way for temple architecture as we know today. Visit Sanchi for a spiritually uplifting experience.
What can you take away:
Apart from the countless memories, you can buy silver jewellery, sequinned beadwork accessories, tribal handicrafts and more to take away as souvenirs.
When to go:
October to March is the best time to be in Bhopal
Bhopal is truly the beating heart of India, and must be appreciated for the many historical and archaeological landmarks, the numerous gorgeous lakes, the finger-licking-good cuisine, the culture of the Nawabs and Rajas, and for the warmth and hospitality of the people of the city. Plan your trip with Cox and Kings soon, and let us know about your experience in the City of Lakes!
Planning to visit Bhopal?See Bhopal Tour Packages
See more of Bharat, starting with Bhopal!See Bhopal Holiday Packages
Or Write To Us:
Or Call Us On:
Neha Mathur loves to explore the stories behind places and people. She believes travel is the best form of education, and loses no opportunity to visit a new place. Neha writes to express stories that touch her heart or entice her mind. She’s a foodie and nothing gives her more happiness than delicious local food! She has a deep love for poetry and music, and swears by the artistic genius of Mirza Ghalib and R.D. Burman.