Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh has a magnificent history. It is a well planned city with well connected roads. Many people still remember this place for the gas leak disaster that happened way back in 1984. It was one of the worst industrial disasters in the world. It is good that Bhopal tourism has not been affected by this. There is so much to do in and around Bhopal. Do your research well before coming to the place and decide what to see and what to skip. Hiring a car makes it easy to cover all the places around Bhopal which are very interesting.
Getting to Bhopal
Raja Bhoj airport in Bhopal is serviced by Alliance Air / Air India and Jet Airways/JetKonnect and is well connected to Mumbai and Delhi and Lucknow.
Bhopal has six train stations and the two main stations Bhopal Junction and Bhopal Habibganj are supposed to be developed as a world-class railway junction. There are nearly twenty trains that start from Bhopal and there are many more that pass through Bhopal thus connecting the city to all parts of the country.
National Highway NH12 passes through Bhopal and connects to NH7 & NH8. Bhopal is well connected by bus to other major cities nationwide.
Weather in Bhopal:
The best time of the year to visit Bhopal is from October to March when it is not too hot and not rainy as well. Summer gets really hot, so travel plans for summer to Bhopal should be avoided.
Places to visit in Bhopal:
Sightseeing in Bhopal is a delight and a very fulfilling experience.
Bhopal is filled with beautiful Islamic buildings like Taj ul Masjid (The crown of mosques), Shaukat Mahal, Sadar Manzil, Moti Masjid, Jama Masjid, Gohar Mahal and other mosques from the 19th century.
The chowk in the old city is a place not to miss. The square with tiny shops in narrow lanes forms the heart of the old city. DB City is the mall if you are looking for mall shopping.
If you are interested in museums, Government Archeological museum, Tribal Habitat Museum, Bharat Bhavan and the Museum of Man shouldn’t be missed. They have a brilliant open-air exhibition of life-size tribal homes from all over India. Also interesting is the Laxmi Narayan temple and museum.
The Upper lake (Bada Talab) and lower lake (Chota Talab) are a must visit. The Upper Lake has a boat club run by MP tourism. They have all kinds of boats and it is a nice way to unwind after a day of visiting so many places.
If you are traveling with children, Van Vihar, the Aquarium and the Regional Science Centre are places that will interest the children and keep them occupied.
Places to visit near Bhopal:
Sanchi is 48 kms from Bhopal on the NH86. The best way to reach Sanchi from Bhopal is by road. Whether or not you are on a historic tour of Bhopal, one of the most important places to visit near Bhopal is Sanchi. The Great Sanchi Stupa, is from the 3rd century BC and was originally installed by emperor Ashoka the great. Further structures and stupas were added till as late as 12th century AD. Sanchi is a world heritage site and has Buddhist monuments, stupas, pillars, temples, and monasteries. Sanchi is still being excavated, environmentally developed and conserved.
Opening times: Sunrise to sunset.
Entrance Fee: For Indian citizens and visitors from SAARC countries – Rs 10 per head. Others Rs 250 per head or US $ 5. Children up to the age of 15 are free.
Another World heritage site, Bhimbetka is 44 kms from Bhopal on NH 12. The Bhimbetka rock shelters have the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent. This is an archaeological site having stone age rock paintings dating up to 30,000 years old. It is also said that this is the place where Bhima from Mahabaratha lived. This site is a part of Ratapani wildlife sanctuary. It is said that Bhimbetka has the world’s oldest floors and walls.
Bhimbetka is on the Vindhyan hills and has beautiful sandstone rock formations which are naturally sculpted.
Entrance Fee: For Indian citizens – Rs 10 per head. Others Rs 100 per head.
Bhojpur is 28 kms from Bhopal and is on the banks of Betwa river. The place gets its name from Raja Bhoj. This place has two large dams that were built in the 11th century, one of which was broken in the fifteenth century. Bhojpur is famous for the Bhojesvar Shiva temple which was never completed. The temple has one of the largest Shiva Linga made out of a single rock at 18 ft tall and 7.5 ft in circumference. This is also another protected site coming under Archeological Survey of India. The temple is huge and the door frame alone is ten meters in height and five meters wide.
Opening Times: Sunrise to Sunset
Entrance fee: Rs. 10
Do a bit of shopping in the Chowk area. Madhya Pradesh is famous for Maheshwari and Chanderi sarees. Check cotton clothes like Kurtas, Bedsheets and dress materials. Try the local food of kebabs in the old city.
Hire a car to travel in and around the city.