Bhopal – The City Of Lakes

Split by a pair of lakes, the city of Bhopal, also popularly referred to as the ‘City of Lakes’, is a true paradise for history buffs and art patrons. One of the greenest cities in India, Bhopal was founded by Raja Bhoj and features a number of natural and artificial lakes. The city of Bhopal has a very rich cultural heritage represented by numerous historical monuments, religious places as well as museums. The city can be divided into two parts, the old city towards the north comprising of mosques, bazaars and old havelis and the modern city towards the south. The two major lakes of the city are ‘Bhojtal’ and ‘Chhota Talab’, also called Upper Lake and the Lower Lake respectively. Apart from tourism, the lakes are also a vital source of water for the residents of the city. Mosques like Taj-Ul-Masjid, built by Shah Jahan Begum is one of the largest in India, showcasing the rich heritage of the city and the classic Mughal architecture. For the history buffs, Birla Mahal is a place where you can witness a number of prehistoric artifacts and stone sculptures that date back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic age.  There is also Archaeological Museum where you can learn more about the vibrant history of the state and appreciate myriad statues of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The land popularly referred to as ‘City of Lakes’ is also considered the ‘Greenest city in India’. Here are the leading tourist destinations in Bhopal.

Upper Lake

One of the most famous places in Bhopal, the Upper Lake, locally referred to as ‘Bhojtaal’ or ‘Bada Talab’, is the oldest man-made lake in India. Dating back to the 11th century, the lake is believed to have been built by Raja Bhoj.

The lake is overlooked by a grand royal garden called Kamla Park, which is another tourist magnet, tempting tourists into its serene folds every year. The ambience and setting of the two places are too remarkable to be ignored, and warrants a top spot in your Bhopal tour itinerary, without any doubt.

Moti Masjid

One of the most interesting mosques in the country, Moti Masjid was built in 1862 by the most progressive and free-thinking woman of her time, Sikander Jahan Begum. Crafted with beautiful, pure white marble, the architecture of the mosque holds a striking resemblance to the historic Jama Masjid in Delhi. The dazzling white facade of the monument has earned it the name ‘Pearl Mosque’, which has a grand courtyard that opens a window to some of the most amazing views of the city. A perfect retreat for history lovers, as well as the curious, Moti Masjid, is indispensable on your Bhopal tour.

Udayagiri Caves

A magnificent set of twenty sculpted caves that date back to the early 5th century CE, the Udayagiri Caves hold within their walls some of the most ancient icon drawings and carvings. The inscriptions inside the caves associate their relation with the reign of the Gupta monarchy.

A significant historic monument, the caves are managed under the observation of the Archaeological Survey of India. The drawings carved depict stories of Vishnu, Lakshmi,  Shiva, and Parvati.

Sanchi Stupa

One of the most unbeatable places to visit in Bhopal, and possibly in entire India, the magnificence of the Sanchi Stupa remains unmatched till date. Believed to have originated in the 3rd century BCE, the building was built it the reign of the great emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty and is one of the most remarkable Buddhist monuments in the country. The Mauryan king undertook the task of redistributing the mortal remains of Lord Buddha all across the face of the country in order to spread the reach of Buddhism. The gigantic dome of the Stupa contains a central vault where the relics of Lord Buddha have been placed.

Shaukat Mahal

A beautiful anomaly of the Asian and Western architectural art amidst the predominance of Islamic architecture in Bhopal, Shaukat Mahal is one of the most frequented tourist places in Bhopal. Gracing the entrance of the famous Chowk area, the building, erected in Sikander Begum’s reign, also exhibits a unique blend of Post Renaissance and Gothic styles, along with intricate carvings which adorn its glorious face. Shaukat Mahal is towered by the grand Sadar Manzil, which is believed to have served as the hall of public audience, back in the era of kings.

Van Vihar National Park

Sitting in close proximity to Upper Lake, the Van Vihar National Park is one of the unmissable tourist places in Bhopal. Serving as the lungs of the city, the park is under strict observation and protection. It is also home to a wide array of wildlife like Blackbuck, Cheetal, Sambar, Blue Bull, Porcupine, Wild Boar, and Hyena, besides exotic floral species. Also ideal for short day treks, the place is apt for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Vast expanses of dense greenery and the quiet beauty of the place render it mandatory for tourists to visit it.

Bhimbetka Caves

Situated at around 45 km south of Bhopal, the monumental Bhimbetka Caves have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is believed that the caves date as back as over 30,000 years! They are home to magnificent rock shelters, along with some of the most exquisite prehistoric cave paintings in Asia. The place exudes strong aesthetic vibes, owing to the beautifully sculpted rock formations within the caves, which are fenced by dense, verdant vegetation and woods. One of the most exotic places to visit in Bhopal, the Bhimbetka Caves are truly one of their kinds, which by themselves constitute a timeless piece of art.

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