Bhopal City in India - Travel and Sightseeing Guide with Photos.

One of the city gates at Bhopal, India

About Bhopal City which is in Madhya Pradesh State, India.

The City of Bhopal (known as the City of Lakes) is located on the Malwa Plateau and is capital of the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. The city has two natural lakes which are named Bhojtal (formerly  Bada Talab or Upper Lake) which feeds the Kolar River and the much smaller and rather scruffy Chota Talab (Lower Lake). The huge Bada Talab covers an area of more than 30 square kilometres, partly borders and also forms part of Van Vihar National Park. Bhojtal is not a natural lake and was possibly built by the King of Malwa Raja Bhoj.
Although settlements have existed in Bhopal as far back as the year 800 it really came into it's own in the 1720s when Dost Mohammad Khan - who was a mercenary and was given Bhopal village as part of his fee - expanded the village into a powerful fortified city. Bhopal's fort (Fategarh Fort) was never taken by force however the fort has been peaceably taken over for use by Gandhi Medical College - the fort's frontage can be seen from beside Bada Talab Lake. Dost Mohammad Khan was also responsible for the strong Islamic influence which still exists in Bhopal - as can be seen from the many mosques in the city.

Ways of travelling too and from Bhopal i.e. flights, Indian railways or by car.

Flying: Bhopal's modern airport is called Raja Bhoj and is situated at Bairagarh alongside National Highway 12 and around 15km from the City centre. The airline using the airport are JetKonnect, Air India and SpiceJet and these offer direct daily flights to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Raipur.
View over Bhopal City, India.
Indian Railways. The main railway station at Bhopal is called Bhopal Junction Railway Station (code BPL) and is located within the Chandbarh area of the city - it's around 2kms from the northern edge of Lower Lake. There are train connections to quite a huge number of Indian cities from Bhopal Junction - including New Delhi, Indore, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Amritsar, Varanasi, Pune, Lucknow, Agra, Chennai, Nanded, Hyderabad, Mysore, Kolkata and Jodhpur. If pre-planning and pre-booking an itinerary which includes going by train you may be interested in reading our About India topic for information about online reservations and buying tickets in advance on the Indian Railways site.
Travelling between destinations even quite some way apart by hiring a car and driver is often a reasonable option in India - lots of convenience, no luggage weight problems and a good way to see the Indian countryside. Easily the cheapest way to find a car and driver for a long distance trip is to ask or or two auto drivers - they will always know someone. If done via a hotel almost certainly the price will be well marked up.
Bhopal building with it's excellent curves and shapes

Hotels and Guesthouses i.e. where to stay in Bhopal and getting around the City.

There is not that great a choice of hotel accommodation in Bhopal which as is sometimes typical in India means there are a couple of very expensive hotels or some pretty awful stuff with just a few guesthouses in between - prices though are high by Indian standards considering what you get.
There are auto-rickshaws available for hire everywhere and the drivers do not tend to try and overcharge - a bit of negotiation is always in order of course. The old party of the city is also fine for walking instead of being driven - wandering around Bhopal is both enjoyable and really interesting. The busy market area has plenty of small streets and alleys and there are lots of old often pink-coloured buildings to look at plus a variety of Gates which still exist from the days of the city's old fortifications.
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Several nice old Bhopal buildings near the City Gate. Bhopal City buildings and old fort gate Bhopal City Gate Bhopal City buildings

Bhopal City and it's beautiful and impressive Mosques.

The city does have more than one or two lovely mosques to look round - and certainly as far as the mosques pictured below are concerned when you visit them you are made most welcome. From 1819 to 1926 Bhopal was ruled by women who were known as the Begums of Bhopal, and many of the buildings and mosques around the city owe their existence to them. Note the mosques are closed on Fridays - normal rules apply for visitors namely removal of shoes and reasonable dress - and of course women may not enter the Prayer Halls.

Jami Masjid minaret at Bhopal

Jami Masjid Mosque and Moti Masjid Mosque at Bhopal City.

The first two photos below are of Jami Masjid Mosque which is situated in the heart of the market area in the old part of the city. Jami Masjid Mosque - which was built by Kudsia Begum in 1837 - has white washed domes and chunky minarets.
Near to Imman Square is the Moti Masjid (the Pearl Mosque) - this is a small structure made from sandstone with small gold topped minarets and a striped dome. There are two water tanks with fountains located at opposite corners of the courtyard and the gateways are quite small and sort of dumpy. The mosque was built in 1860 by Sikandar Begum.
Jami Masjid (mosque)at Bhopal India Moti Masjid gate at Bhopal, India. Moti Masjid tank at Bhopal Moti Masjid (mosque) at Bhopal India

Tajul Masajid Mosque   Bhopal City

Tajul Masajid Mosque in Bhopal.

This beautiful mosque with it's 18 storied octagonal minarets and three white marble domes is a truly impressive site - the courtyard is huge and contains a central water tank (Dukka). Also the main gateway is a massive structure which would not be out of place if guarding a fort entrance. The Prayer Hall is equally impressive with it's beautifully carved pillars ad marble floor - the left hand side of the Hall is often used as an Islamic school. The construction of this mosque was started by Sultan Jehan Begum in 1878 and the belief amongst local people is that the mosque is larger than the Jami Masjid in Delhi. The mosque was not completed in her lifetime due to lack of finances and only completed in 1971.
Tajul Masajid gate Tajul Masajid Prayer Hall Tajul Masajid at Bhopal, India Tajul Masajid (mosque) - Bhopal

The excellent ghat just outside Tajul Masajid, Bhopal The Upper Lake is used for boat trips and sailing as well as other activities and it is a pleasant walk from Kilol Park going alongside the lake to the boat jetty. The promenade is well planted with shrubs and there are seating areas every so often. At the far end there is a nice static steam engine, a cafe and a variety of shops and it is here where you can get a boat trip or hire a paddleboat to go out onto the lake.
Walking round the old part of the city, parts of the walls and some gateways are still evident but little of the grandeur remains.
The Chowk (market) area is a maze of narrow streets and high buildings many of which have overhanging balconies and it's clear that these were once lovely buildings. The ground floors of these buildings are now used as shops - each street specializing in a particular type of goods varying from fresh produce to pots and pans, silks and saris and jewelry, drums and spices and a Bhopal specialty i.e. beautiful beaded purses. 
Upper Lake at Bhopal Bhopal Upper Lake Bhopal buildings Mahaveer Giri Jain Temple at Bhopal
The last photo above right is of Mahaveer Giri Jain Mandir which is located on a hill around 7 kilometres from Bhopal City centre. It can be found by going along Airport Road for about 1.5kms and then taking a small road on the right. The Temple is a pilgrimage centre and therefore active so it's not always possible to go inside. The views from the temple are really good with Bhopal stretched out beneath you.
One of the main places to go and see has to be the famous Buddhist Stupas at Sanchi - which are quite easily visited on a half or full day-trip.
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