The second largest state of India- Madhya Pradesh is a store house of various tourist destinations. There are quite a large number of tourists, who visit this place during the tourist season, which begins roughly from September and continues till about March. Madhya Pradesh is at its scenic best however during the monsoons. But since the rain might obstruct your travel and it hardly brings much respite from the heat, this season is avoided. Summers are a definite no-no since the heat becomes unbearable during the summer months, which is not at all conducive for tourists.
When visiting Madhya Pradesh, people generally first travel to Bhopal. It ranks 17th when it comes to the largest cities in India. Since it is the capital of this state, it shares excellent connectivity within the state as well as with the rest of the India. You have direct trains and flights to this city. Though Bhopal is mostly treated as a base, for its metropolitan setting, there are plenty of places of tourist interest that will come across in and around Bhopal.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the tourist destinations that are a must visit when you are in Bhopal:
- The Upper Lake: Bhopal is famed today as the city of lakes. This is primarily because there are numerous manmade as well as natural lakes that are found in Bhopal. In fact, these lakes and their surrounding areas are tourist destinations of particular interest during the winter months since you will get to see some extremely beautiful and rare migratory birds here during this season. The Upper Lake or the Bhojtal is one of the most coveted tourist destinations for the nature lovers. Two water bodies, the Chota Talab and the Bada Talab join together for the Bhoj Wetland. This site has been declared as a Ramsar site. This means that according to the guidelines of the International Ramsar Convention, this area has been converted into the sustainable use and conservation of wetlands. There are many conservation projects like this which are carried out over various areas in Bhopal, and this is why it is probably famed as one of the greenest cities in the country.
- The Sanchi Stupa: Though not directly located in the city area of Bhopal, the Sanchi Stupa is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the entire country. It is located in the Raisen district at a distance of about 46kms away from Bhopal. All you have to do is book a car, and you will reach the site in an hour. Coveted as one of the most important Buddhist monuments, this also happens to be a place of great historical importance. It is a well-known fact that King Asoka, the Mauryan King, went to great lengths spread the message of Buddhism and stupas like this were constructed in various parts of the country. Another such stupa is found in Sarnath, near Varanasi. Remains of the Ashokan pillar are found in the Sanchi Stupa as well. Apart from the historical importance, it is also a great work of architectural brilliance.
- The Bhimbetka Rock Shelter: The Raisen district is truly one of the most fascinating in the country. Apart from the Sanchi Stupa, you will also find the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters over here. You will have travel for about an hour to reach this place from Bhopal. There are more than 700 caves or rock shelters that are found here of which 400 show signs of being inhabited by the early prehistoric man. There are numerous paintings on these cave walls, which have survived the brute thrust of time and tell us a lot about the life of the ancient man. This is surely one of the places that you would not want to give a miss.
- Van Vihar National Park: For a burst of wildlife flora and fauna in the middle of the city, do visit the Van Vihar National Park. It is basically an open zoo where you will find that the herbivores like blackbucks, sambhars, etc. are allowed to roam about freely whereas the potentially harmful carnivores are kept in enclosed and often caged areas.
- The Marine Drive: When you feel like taking a break from all the hectic tourist sightseeing tours, and wish to go for a walk, you can do so at the Marine Drive. Do not confuse this one with the one in Mumbai! This marine drive is almost 3kms long and runs parallel with the Upper Lake. This is the perfect place to go to if you wish to enjoy a nice evening walk with a cool breeze drifting from the lake.
- The Taj-ul-Masjid: Covering an area of about 7065sqkms, this is one of the largest mosques in India. This mosque was built over the rule of two generations of the queens of Bhopal. However, it had suffered a major setback during the mutiny of 1857, and thus, this structure was completed finally as late as 1985.
- Gohar Mahal: Dedicated to Begum Qudisiya, the Gohar Mahal is an architectural wonder that is located right on the banks of the Upper Lake. This palatial structure was built by Begum Qudisiya herself, who also happened to be the first woman ever to rule Bhopal. The fact that she admired and promoted the flourish of art and craft is well discernable from the work of this mansion.
- Birla Temple: Located at the highest point in Bhopal is a temple dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and Lord Narayana, which is known as the Birla Temple. Laxmi and Narayana are known to be Gods of Wealth.
- Bharat Bhavan: A little different from the typical tourist destinations, this art complex, and the museum has a wonderful collection, which is bound to draw any art enthusiast’s attention.
- Bhojesvar, Shiva Temple: Located in Bhojpur, which is only 28kms away from Bhopal, this magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva garners special tourist attention. The shiva lingam is about 18ft tall, and the fact that it was carved out of a single stone is what makes it so interesting.
These are some of the places, both in and around Bhopal, that you should never give a miss when you are visiting this city. Stay in Bhopal for a few days and explore these places of immense historical interest.