As the capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal tells a tale of two cities as it is divided by a pair of lakes. The Muslim-dominated old city lies to the north of the lakes and houses a catacomb-like area of crowded bazaars and mosques. Venture north of the city to find the Union Carbide chemical plant, the tragic site of the world’s worst industrial disaster.
Bhopal takes a more modern turn south of the lakes, where you’ll find upmarket hotels and restaurants, wide roads and fascinating museums.
As one of India’s greenest cities, you might spot tigers, lions and leopards in Van Vihar National Park. The enormous Taj-ul-Masjid and captivating State Museum are also well worth a visit.
The impressive Taj-ul-Masjid mosque was commissioned in 1877 by Shah Jahan Begum, Bhopal’s third female ruler, who wanted to create the largest mosque in the world. Sadly she didn’t get to see it completed and it was finally finished in the 1980s. One of Asia’s largest mosques, fortresslike pink walls and two towering minarets surround a 100-metre square courtyard and a prayer hall with scalloped eggshell-like domes.
Try to make the dawn Azan (Muslim call to prayer) to get the chance to witness hundreds of worshippers descending on the mosque for their morning worship.
The State Museum is an impressive tribute to the archaeology of Bhopal, with numerous galleries featuring fantastic temple sculptures and a multitude of 10th- and 11th-century Jain bronzes that were discovered by a farmer in western Madhya Pradesh.
You’ll find some surprisingly modern-looking 5th-century Buddhist paintings from the Bagh Caves in the Bagh Paintings room, and galleries dedicated to early history, the colonial period and postage stamps.
Visit Bhopal as part of your own bespoke Indian holiday. Contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org