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TOURISM

Bhopal | Sanchi | Gwalior | Orchha | Khajuraho | Jabalpur | Indore | Ujjain


BHOPAL 

How to get there | Taj-Ul-Masjid | Chowk - Shopping Place | Jama Masjid | Moti Masjid | Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil | Gohar Mahal | Upper and Lower Lakes  | Aquarium | Van Vihar | Museums | Around Bhopal

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Taj _ Ul - Masjid
Believed to be the largest mosque in the country, this pink towering mosque was commenced by Shah Jahan Begum, (1868-1901) Bhopal's eighth ruler. The work of the mosque was incomplete on her death and the construction could only resume in 1971 cause of lack of funds. The credit for Bhopal's postal system, railways and waterworks goes to this queen.  The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, the three white domes and the two white domed massive minarets. Its broad façade, spacious courtyard and smooth marble floors are impressive. A three-day ' Ijtima', a congregation of Muslims in India, held here annually, draws people from all over the country.

Chowk-Shopping Place
Located 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. An excellent place for purchasing traditional crafts.

Jama Masjid
Gold spikes crown the tall dark minarets of this beautiful mosque, built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum, the devout wife of the ruler of Bhopal.

Moti Masjid 
Also known as Pearl Mosque, this mosque is architecturally similar to Delhi’s Jama Masjid. It  was built by Sikandar Jahan Begum, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860. 

Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil
Shaukat Mahal is situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the city. Its mixture of architectural 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 a subsidiary of the Bourbon kings of France. Post-Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to a charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.

Gohar Mahal
Gohar Mahal also known as Gohar Begum is situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake. This palace, built in 1820 by Kudsia Begum is an architectural gem. The Mahal is a magnificent fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.

Upper and Lower Lakes 
The legendary Raja Bhoj is credited with the construction of these two lakes. The Upper Lake which is six sq. km. in area, is divided from the Lower by an over bridge. Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s, Yacht Club on the Upper and Lower Lakes provide facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.

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

Van Vihar
This safari park, 445 hectares in area is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake. It has a rich variety of animals and birds. 
Open every day except Tuesday, from 7-11 am and 3-5 pm.

Museums

Government Archaeological museum
Situated to the south of the lower lake, on the Banganga Rd this Museum has a fine collection of sculptures from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. The collections include paintings of various schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh Caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha. Museum shop sells stone figure copies. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm except Mondays. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Bharat Bhawan
Established in 1982, Bharat Bhawan a center for the creative and performing arts, is one of the most unique national institutes in India. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa and located in the Shamla hills on the banks of a lake, it is regarded as one of the most important centres for the preservation of traditional folk art. The center houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theatre, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal room, and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. They are 
'Rupankar'- The museum has contemporary urban, folk and art of aboriginals, a ceramic workshop, litho workshop and facilities for stone craft and metal casting.
'Rangmandal'- Numerous plays and stage shows are held here. It also has a rich library and play museum.
'Vagartha'- A centre of Indian poetry and provides an excellent platform to the writers for interaction through lecture, recitation, translation and publication. It has a rich collection of of the ancient and contemporary poetry.
'Anhad'- A center for Indian classical and folk music organising programmes of top musicians.
Open from 2 pm to 8 pm every day except Mondays.

Tribal Habitat (Museum of Man)
An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located at Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya 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 gives a complete insight into the architectural features of the tribal houses with elaborately displayed interiors. There are craft and pottery demonstrations in the exhibition.
Open every day expect on Mondays and national holidays, from 10 am to 6 pm.

Laxminarayan Temple & Museum
Also known as Birla Mandir, this beautiful Vaishnavite temple on the Arera Hills has an excellent museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsour and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The stone sculptures are mainly of Vishnu, Siva and their consorts and incarnations. There is also a small selection of terracotta exhibits from Kausambi. The Museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays.

Regional Science Centre
Regional Science Centre, located on the Shamla Hills, houses a planetarium and a science museum with about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in 'Invention' and 'Fun Science' galleries. 
Open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm on all days except Mondays.

Places around Bhopal

Islamnagar
Located 11 km away on the Bhopal-Berasia Road, past the infamous Union Carbide Factory (the poisonous gas leakage causing the worst industrial disaster in1984), Islamnagar is a small village known for the palace of Bhopal's Afghan rulers built by Dost Mohammed Khan. Gardens surround the palace and the pavilion. The pavilion, a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art, has pillars richly decorated with floral motifs. Other important monuments are the hamam (baths) of the Chaman Mahal and the double-storeyed Rani Mahal.

Bhojpur
Located 28 Kms from Bhopal, Bhojpur is famous for the magnificent 11th century Shiva temple, 'Bhojeshwar Mandir' and the lake constructed by the legendary Parmar King of Dhar, Raja Bhoj (1010-1053). The enormous Shiva Lingam in the temple carved out of a single rock over a three tiered square sandstone platform, is the largest in India. The Lingam is 7.5 ft tall with nearly 21.5 ft circumference. The temple is a simple square with a richly carved dome supported by four pillars guarded by two ornamental figures at the entrance. There is a simple Jain shrine nearby which has a 6m high black statue of a Thirthankara and two smaller ones.A very colourful and big mela is organised here on the occasion of the festival 'Maha Shivratri'.

Bhim Bhetka 
Bhim Bhetka based on the northern fringe of Vindhya Mountain ranges is a major tourist attraction 46 Kms from Bhopal. The site has South Asia's richest collection of prehistoric paintings and other archeological discoveries. In the rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 1000 rock shelters belonging to the Neolithic age were discovered in 1957, by VS Wakanker of the Vikram University, Ujjain.  The paintings in over 500 caves depict the life of the prehistoric cave dwellers and a smaller number have evidence of Stone Age habitation from the lower Palaetholic period to the late Mesolithic, making the Bhimbetika group an archaeological treasure. It was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in July 2003, thus becoming the 22nd site in India to receive the status.

The oldest paintings are believed to be up to 1200 years old. Executed mainly in red and white with the occasional use of green and yellow, the scenes usually depict hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animals fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. Animals such as bison’s, tigers, lions, wild boar, elephants, antelopes, dogs, lizards, crocodiles etc, have been abundantly depicted in some caves. Popular religious and ritual symbols also occur frequently.

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