Everytime the word Bhopal is mentioned, it takes one back to the 3rd December 1984, when a Union Carbide Corporation pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked around 32 tons of toxic gases, including methyl isocyanate gas leading to the worst industrial disaster ever. But when we drove into Bhopal a few months back, nearly 28years after the tragic event, we found that people had moved on and there were no obvious
signs of the tragedy. It was as lively as any urban Indian city with manic traffic on narrow roads and crowds jostling at the markets making their way to trade goods.
Bhopal, now the capital of Madhya Pradesh, according to folkolore was founded by Raja Bhoja of the
After checking into Hotel Ranjit, had a quick lunch and then set out for the State Museum. This museum
devoted to archaeology, exhibits antiquities like coins, sculptures and terracotta excavated from all the significant sites of the region. Also on view are paintings and handicrafts made by the tribal communities of
Madhya Pradesh. It sure is a place where one can spend hours marveling at the amazing art of the artisans. The timings of the Museum are 10.00am to 5.00pm and closed on Mondays and Government Holidays. There is no entry fee too, presumably to encourage people to visit and learn.
It was evening by the time we finished with the museum and so headed out to the lake for a cruise by sunset.
The cruise was magical.
We ended the day at Chatori galli – Bhopal’s khau galli where we feasted on Kababs and tandooris
followed by sweet paans.
Bhopal has a very quaint city tour transport onto which we hopped on the next day. Our first stop was the
Lakshmi Narayan Temple devoted to Vishnu and his mythological consort Laxmi, called Birla Mandir. You
can get some beautiful overviews of Bhopal from the lawns of the temple.
The next stop was the Tajul masjid – the 3rd largest mosque in the world. After a photo session in the masjid we left for the Tribal museum – an amazing place which has tribal art from all over Madhya Pradesh and it
would take you a minimum of three hours to scan through the museum.
In the evening we went to check out
the Moti masjid and
the Jama Masjid which are close to the Chatori gully which beckoned us again for some delicious biryani at Jameel’s and some delicious ‘Khajoor’ which is crisp on the outside and soft within!
Next day we set out for the famous Bhimbetka caves that are around 45kms from the city. Got a licenced
guide at the entrance to the Bhimbetka complex who took us through all the important sites giving us a lowdown on the historic importance of each. It is a World Heritage Site and a number of analyses suggest that at least some of these shelters were inhabited by hominids like homo erectus more than 100,000 years ago. Some of the Stone Age rock paintings found among the Bhimbetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old (Paleolithic Age).
The name Bhimbetka is said to be a derivative of Bhimbaithka, meaning "sitting place of Bhima". Bhima is the hero-deity renowned for his immense strength, from the epic Mahabharata. It was discovered by V.S.Wakankar in 1957.
It is a marvel that these paintings have not faded even after thousands of years.The oldest paintings are considered to be 30,000 years old, but some of the geometric figures date to as recently as the medieval period.
A cursory visit here too takes around two to three hours.
On the way back to Bhopal we visited the Bhojeshwar temple in Bhojpur. It is a temple dedicated to Lord
Shiva and houses a huge Linga that is 5.5 m (18 ft) tall and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in circumference.
Unfortunately this temple was not completed due to King Bhoja being defeated and killed in a battle by the combined strength of Chalukyas of Kalyani and Gujarat combined with Lakshmi-Karna of the Kalachuri dynasty.
Thus ended our visit to historic Bhopal.
How to get there:
By Rail: Bhopal Railway Station is a major railhead connecting all major cities in India.
By Air: Bhopal Airport, also known as Raja Bhoj Airport, is 15 km away from the heart of the city. It is well connected by domestic airlines from all major cities of India.
By Road: Overnight deluxe buses from Delhi, Gwalior and Jabalpur are available to Bhopal.