The first thing that comes to mind when one talks of Bhopal is the disaster that occurred in the winter of ’84. It was one of the worst industrial disasters in history. But Bhopal, situated in the northwestern part of Madhya Pradesh at the heart of India, is about more than just the disaster. It is a charming city that will remind you of the glamorous lifestyle led by the Nawabs and Begums.
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What attracted me most was the rich history surrounding this place. 46 kilometers south of Bhopal are the caves of the prehistoric hunters and gatherers. For over 100,000 years these cavemen have been living here. The oldest dated rock painting is around 9000 years old. You can see the evolution of these hunters from the primitive ones to the ones that rode on elephants and horses. Here you can see our ancestors dancing in the beats of the drums.
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Indian civilization marched on from these ancient cave dwellers to agriculture to building great empires. The peak was reached during the rule of Ashoka the Great. The mark of his greatness was also left 46kms north east of Bhopal in the small village of Sanchi. Here you will find many Buddhist monuments build from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD.
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It was a time when Indian philosophy attracted the west. The testimony to the fact is the Heliodorus pillar, located a few kilometers from Sanchi. It is a stone column that was erected around 110 BC by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra.
With the death of Ashoka, the Mauryan Empire collapsed, resulting in five centuries of disorder. Then, around 320AD, emerged another great Indian empire. It was known as the Gupta Empire. The rulers encouraged peace prosperity and trade. It was during this time that the Indian mathematicians developed the concept of zero, the decimal system, and the concept of infinity. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Vishnu Sharma and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields. These great Indian rulers build the Udayagiri Caves in around 382-401AD. These great rock cut sculptures are just 15kms from Sanchi.
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Bhopal was built in the 11th century by the legendary Raja Bhoja. He made the Upper Lake by building an earthen dam over the river Kolans. On the downstream of the dam of Upper Lake the Lower Lake was erected much later. Bhopal is often known as the lake city because of these lakes that cover around 6 square kms of area. There are boating facilities in the lake. It is a great place to sit and relax while eating your favorite flavor of popcorn. Surrounding the lake is the Van Vihar zoo and Museums.
He also build the city of Bhojpur 28kms from Bhopal. In Bhojpur he built the incomplete Bhojeshwar temple, which is dedicated to Shiva. It is home to largest Shiva lingam in India, which is 5.5 m tall and 2.3 m in circumference and is crafted out of a single rock. The temple could not be completed as Chalukyas of Kalyani and Gujarat combined with Lakshmi-Karna of the Kalachuri dynasty attacked Raja Bhoja's capital in 1060. The king died in the fierce battle defending his kingdom.
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The Mughals ultimately took over the kingdom. Their magnificent architectures can be found all around the city or Bhopal. With the death of Aurangzeb in 1707AD there was a political turmoil in the area. During the chaos an Afghan soldier, Dost Mohammed, fled from Delhi. It was during this time he met Rani Kamlapati, a very beautiful wife of Nawal Shah, a Hindu Gond tribal warlord. Her beauty proved fatal for her as local rulers attacked and killed her husband. Fearing for her life, she fled. Here she hired Dost Mohammad Khan to kill the enemies who had killed her husband. He destroyed the enemies of the queen, but, after his return he betrayed her and decided to make Bhopal his permanent destination. 11km away on Bhopal-Berasia Road, Islam Nagar has synthesis of Hindu and Islamic decorative art developed by Dost Mohammed Khan.
Finally the rule shifted from the Mughals to the British. Bhopal aligned itself with the British, in their fight against the Marathas, in 1817. At the time of India's independence in 1947, Bhopal remained a separate state until 1949, when it acceded to India.
DAY-1: Hire a car [8am] to see Sanchi 46km[9:30am-12:30pm]-Vidisha 10km [1:30-2:30pm]-Udaigiri cave5kms[3pm-4pm]-Heliodorus pillar3km [4:30pm-5pm],
Day 2: see Islamnagar [11km from Bhopal], Bhojpur [28km frob BHP] and Bhimbetka [46km from BHP]
Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.,
Paryatan Bhawan, Bhadbhada Road,
Bhopal 462 003. INDIA.
Tel.:+91-755-2778383/2774340,42,43,44. Fax: +91-755-2779476/2774289. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For taxi: Mittal Travel - +91 9826166568