Offbeat Destination-Bhopal the City of Lakes
O for Offbeat Destinations for #BlogchatterA2Zchallenge. Summer and vacations are synonymous. You may think Offbeat Destination-Bhopal the City of Lakes is an unusual place to suggest for a holiday. If you are an art and culture person then, Bhopal, a city of Culture has a lot to offer.
Why do you like to travel?
I love to travel not to escape life but to make sure that life does not escape me. I think I have some gypsy blood in me and I travel for travel’s sake. The end result is to keep moving. Born and living in the same city always, travel is my getaway. Travel makes you feel free. As if you have sprouted wings and it’s time to spread them and soar into the sky.
I was an armchair traveller; literally. Having read a lot about cultures and people, I was familiar with places generally. Geography was my favourite subject. My recent foray was to BHOPAL. I wasn’t going just to rediscover the city but was going to attend a wedding. But then I had to make the most of the opportunity and explore. I love travelling by train and was on a train after ages. Watching the changing topography and going through the dark tunnels is thrilling.
The Old Bhopal versus The New
I always wondered why Bhopal looked pathetic although it was the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Years ago, I remember watching a movie in a decrepit theatre and the roads were narrow and lakes were neglected. But this time it has been quite a while and I found that the city and its environs have been spruced up.
Cities with ancient architecture give it a certain character; with a vibrant history. Surprisingly, Bhopal was ruled by begums for the best part of the 19th and 20th centuries. They were hailed as dynamic rulers. They did not follow the purdah system and advanced the emancipation of women, promoted education and established a modern municipality in 1903. Wonder what went wrong when the men took over the reins.
The city is a blend of old and modern architecture. Known as the ‘CITY of LAKES’ it is also considered the ‘Greenest City in India’. Bhopal is said to have been founded by King Bhoja of the Paramara dynasty and the original name Bhojpal was named after him. Another school of thought says that the name was derived from the name of King Bhupal.
Upper Lake or Lake Bhojpal
The Upper Lake or Lake Bhojtal is in existence since the 11th century. It is said to be the biggest lake in the state. The water of the lake is believed to have curative powers and helps to cure skin conditions. The man-made lake in the heart of the city has a small island in the centre. The boat club has the facility to cruise on rowing boats, paddle boats, and speed boats. Various water sports competitions are conducted here. The sunset here is not to be missed. It is mellow and looks like a symphony of colours. You will be spellbound by the spectacular view as I did. The statue of King Bhoja is pretty impressive. But birds were perched on the royal crown of King Bhoja.
Split by a pair of lakes, Bhopal is like two cities within a city and has two starkly contrasting cityscapes. Towards the North, you have the old city, a fascinating area of mosques, meandering alleys, chowks, milling crowds, exotic Havelis and crowded bazaars.
Offbeat Destination-Bhopal the City of Lakes
The Old & New City
The old city has a charm of its own. The Chowk is the heart of the old city with grand buildings all around. The lanes are twisting and serpentine. The Jama Masjid is striking and said to be one of the biggest in India. The red sandstone façade is really fascinating. The area is familiar as I have visited the Idgah Hills before
South of the two lakes is the modern Bhopal. With wide boulevards, upmarket shopping complexes like DB city mall, Ashima Mall, Century21 Mall, Crown Mall, The Great India Palace Mall, Aura Mall and plush hotels and restaurants nestled comfortably in the Arera and Shamla Hills, which overlook the lakes. The central part of the city is known as New Market. But frankly, I prefer the old city with its rich history and heritage.
Bhopal has a lot to offer
The Masjid, Zoo, and museum are worth a Dekho. If you have time then drive to the countryside. The lush green fields and flowing brooks are soothing after the concrete jungles. On the wayside, I saw a grotto under a tree, dedicated to a Horse. Hinduism is the only religion that has animals closely related to God. But have never seen a horse being revered before; India and its diversity. If you are lucky you may see rural kabaddi as I did. The simple people were cheering their teams. But, there could be high stakes involved.
Tried Something New
Being a food blogger, food is a top priority when I am travelling. India is a vast country and the food habits keep changing with the geography. It is fascinating for me to see rare and distinct foods in every city. The new Manohar Dairy is a popular diner. The menu had an unusual fusion of Schezwan noodles spring roll stuffed in a Dosa. It is a gastronomic delight; south Indian cuisine meets Chinese schezwan cuisine to become an awesome Chindian dish. Another fusion recipe, I would recommend is the unique Samosa sandwich.
Travel in the north is not complete without street food. Panipuri and chat is a permanent feature. If you like Pan, then there are famous panwala who use some exotic betel leaves. Raju Tea Stall is legendary and always crowded. People come from far off places to just have a glass of tea. Along with the addictive chai, they have an assortment of sweets and savouries. The mawa jalebi is a signature dish not found anywhere else. The best thing about the food here is it is fresh and the cooks roll out and fry samosas and kachoris in huge cauldrons, right then and there.
Bhopal Up Close
Take time out to have a picnic at Sair Sapata, Tribal Museum or VanVihar. Make a day trip to Sanchi Stupa which is known as the centre of Buddhism in India. For history and architectural enthusiasts, it is a wonderland. Do not miss the famed, live theatre shows
The Bhojpur Temple is acknowledged as Somnath of the East, propped on the banks of river Vetravati. Lord Shiva is the consecrated God in the temple. It has a 7.5 feet tall Shivling with a circumference of 18 feet. The entrance is imposing, with a huge arch. The pillars, dome and façade are carved with stone sculptures.
The city charms you with its lakes, nature and rich history. Visit the city if you appreciate architecture, culture and of course good food. This brings me to the end of my Bhopal diaries and onwards towards another favourite city of Nawabs-Lucknow.
List of Places To Visit
- Van Vihar National Park – Zoo For Animal Lovers
- Bhimbetka Caves – Must For History Lovers
- Taj-ul-Masjid – An Impressive Place of Worship
- Bhojpur Temple – Stone art and More
- Bhojtal Lake – Sunset, Boating & Snacking
- Jama Masjid – Imposing and Majestic
- Birla Mandir – For The Pious
- Tribal Museum – Interesting Art
- DB City Mall – Rub Shoulders With The Hoi Polloi
- New Market – Shop Till You Drop
- Sair Sapata – A Family Outing
- Countryside—For the Nature Lovers
- Raju Tea Stall— For the Tea Addicts
- Manohar dairy—For the Gourmet Lovers
I am participating in #BlogchatterA2Z by @ Blogchatter 2022
If you haven’t checked out my theme for A2Z 2022, then do check it out here.
My A post is Ambrosial Pineapple Cream Pudding. B post is Strawberry Biscuit Pudding. C is Chana Dal or tadka Dal, D for Thandai Drink, E for How to eat a juicy Mango, F for Frittata, G for Godh Bharai, H for Homemade Kulfi, I for Mango Icecream, J for watermelon Juice, K for Matar Kulcha, L for Lazy summer days, M for Munjalu, Palm fruit or Ice Apple, N for Natural Munjalu or Ice Apple Sherbet,