Replete with lakes and greenery, Bhopal is the capital city of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and is one the greenest cities in the country. Bhopal is known as the City of Lakes for its several natural as well as artificial lakes which make it a great tourist spot. It is also known as the ‘City of Begums’ as the city was ruled by generations of begums from 1819 to 1926, and witnessed growth in terms of waterworks, railways, postal systems, and municipality. The begums also built several monuments which still stand proudly as the testimony of the city’s past.
Towards the north of the city, you will witness the old city comprising fascinating mosques, narrow alleys, amazing food corners, and bustling chowks. On the other side of the upper lake is the new Bhopal with modern infrastructure, shopping complexes, malls, hotels, and restaurants. Both the sides complement each other and offer best of both the worlds to every visitor.
Places to Visit / Tourist Places
- The Lakes - Bhopal is known for its serene natural and man-made lakes which are a great picnic spot. It boasts of two beautiful lakes, Upper Lake and Lower Lake. Upper Lake was made in the 11th century and is flanked by a lovely garden and Kamla Park and offers water activities such as boat rides on paddle, sail, and motorboats. The ‘Chota Talab’ is on the east of Upper Lake and these two water bodies combined are referred to as ‘Bhoj Wetland’.
- Van Vihar – Bordered by Upper Lake, Van Vihar is a zoological park and is home to several wild animals and birds. Over 200 species of animals and birds are found here and is a soothing sight for all animal and nature lovers.
- Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya – Sprawled in the south of Upper Lake, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya a.k.a. the National Museum of Man is the largest anthropological museum in India and one of the biggest in Asia. One can see life-size dwelling units of the tribal, Himalayan, and coastal villages built in traditional architectural styles using raw materials.
- Gohar Mahal – It is a castle built by Qudsia Begum between 1819 and 1837 and serves as a historic witness to Bhopal’s royal families. It is an amalgam of Hindu and Mughal architecture and offers a stunning view of the Upper Lake. It is also a venue for numerous craft fairs.
- Kerwa Dam – This is one of the most beautiful dams of Bhopal which attracts numerous visitors because of its natural landscape and is a great place for family outings with many cafes surrounding it.
- Taj-Ul-Masjid – Translating to the ‘crown of mosques’, the mosque is a prominent structure with a huge three-storey façade and is made of pink sandstone measuring 160m from east to west. Shah Jahan Begum wanted to replicate the Jama Masjid in Delhi, but the structure of Taj-Ul-Masjid is much larger than Jama Masjid.
- Birla Mandir – This Lakshmi Narayan Temple was built by Hindustan Charity Trust in 1964 and is located on the highest peak of Arera hills, now known as Lakshminarayana Giri. One can witness a breath-taking view of the old and new Bhopal from the temple premises and has Birla Museum beside it which showcases impressive artifacts and antique sculptures.
- Shaukat Mahal – It is a beautiful historic palace which is a mix of Islamic and European architectural styles and is now home to Madhya Pradesh State Archaeological Museum.
- Boat ride in Upper Lake – A boat ride is a must-have experiences in Bhopal Upper Lake which has a serene view and tranquil atmosphere. Activities such as boating in paddle, sail, and motorboat are available here.
- Ropeway – The Bhopal ropeway takes you to a small little Jain temple from where the entire city is visible along with the panorama of the Upper Lake. The ropeway is located at the foot of Manua Bhan Ki Tekri and the temple also is only accessible through the ropeway.
- Safari at Van Vihar National Park – The national park houses over 200 species of animals and birds and one can witness these beautiful species through a safari. Jeep safari is available here and the tickets can be booked from the office outside the main gate of the park.
- Water Parks – Bhopal has some very thrilling and amazing water park rides that will give you a rush of adrenaline and the thrill of an adventure.
- Flying fox zip line – Zip across the longest twin zip in Central India over Kerwa Lake on a height on 520 meters and feel the thrill of adventure. Hanging and speeding over the deep lake is one of the most sought-after activities in Bhopal which one must try.
Nightlife (Pubs, clubs, lounges)
- Kino's Club: This popular nightclub is located in the heart of the city and is known for its great music, lively atmosphere, and affordable drinks. The club hosts a range of events and DJs and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
- 10 Downing Street: This popular chain of nightclubs has a branch in Bhopal and is known for its trendy decor, great music, and lively atmosphere. The club offers a range of drinks and food, and hosts a range of events and parties.
- Level 2: This stylish nightclub is located in the DB City Mall and offers a range of music, drinks, and entertainment. The club is known for its great ambiance and lively atmosphere, and is a popular spot among young partygoers.
- Illusion- The Lounge: This popular lounge bar is known for its great music, drinks, and food, and offers a range of entertainment options such as live music and stand-up comedy. The club has a chic and stylish ambiance and is a great spot to relax and unwind.
- Rude Lounge: This popular lounge bar is located in the heart of the city and offers a range of music, drinks, and food. The club has a trendy and modern decor and is a great spot to hang out with friends and enjoy a night out.
- Club MP-06: This popular nightclub is located in the Hotel Lake View Ashok and offers a range of music, drinks, and entertainment. The club hosts a range of events and parties and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
- Barcode Lounge and Club: This popular nightclub is in the Hotel Surendra Vilas and offers a range of music, drinks, and entertainment. The club has a chic and stylish ambiance and is a popular spot for young partygoers.
Street Food in Bhopal
- Poha Jalebi - A popular breakfast dish that consists of flattened rice (poha) cooked with onions, spices, and served with sweet jalebis.
- Bhopali Gosht Korma - A traditional Muslim dish made with tender mutton in a rich and creamy gravy, served with naan or rice.
- Biryani - A fragrant rice dish with tender meat, cooked with aromatic spices and herbs, and served with raita.
- Samosa - A popular snack that consists of a crispy pastry filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and served with tamarind or mint chutney.
- Chaat - A tangy and savory snack made with a base of crispy puri (deep-fried dough), topped with spiced potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt, and chutneys.
- Daulat ki Chaat - A creamy and frothy dessert made with sweetened milk, topped with saffron, nuts, and dried fruits.
- Lassi - A refreshing yogurt-based drink that can be sweet or salty and is often flavored with fruits or spices.
- Paya Soup – The mutton paya soup is something you cannot miss in Bhopal which is a slow-boiled lamb soup and delicately spiced with spices and herbs. The soup is a perfect winter treat for your palate and burst into fusion of flavors from the shredded meat, spices and herbs.
- Bade ke Kebab – These are essentially beef kebabs made from minced beef marinated all day in a spice mix. The kebabs are then hand rolled and fried on a pan and then stuffed inside grilled buns with chutney, onions, and chilies.
- Manohar Dairy & Restaurant – It is a popular restaurant for a quick bite or a delectable meal. The menu features a wide range of Indian and international dishes and from both veg and non-veg variety which you can enjoy in its friendly and comforting atmosphere with friends and family.
- Under The Jamun Tree – Serving delicious North Indian and Mughlai cuisine, the restaurant is laid outdoor under a huge Jamun tree and is decked up with lightings and wooden furniture. Specialising in Indian barbeque dishes, the restaurant is a visual delight where people of all ages come and enjoy.
- TAO – Tattenham Across Orient – A chic restaurant with stunning Chinese style interiors and warm ambiance, TAO is a Chinese restaurant with menu for every kind of visitor and mood. Whether you want a light and healthy meal or a hearty meal, veg or non-veg, or even alcohol or wine, TAO has everything along with an inviting atmosphere and a friendly staff.
- Bhopal Express – The restaurant façade looks like a train boogie and is a great place to enjoy authentic Indian food. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and serves veg and non-veg dishes in authentic style.
- Indian Coffee House – It serves Indian and international cuisines and has a relaxed atmosphere. The menu offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and the food is also reasonably priced, and portions are generous too.
- Bay Leaf Restaurant – It is a popular restaurant in Bhopal that specializes in seafood. With a casual atmosphere, the menu features an extensive variety of seafood dishes and a wide variety of wine and beer to enjoy along with the meal.
- DB City mall
- Aashima Anupama Mall
- Aura Mall
- Capital Mall
- Gammon Mall
- City Walk Mall
- Vardhaman Mall
- Chowk Bazaar - Located in the old city area of Bhopal, Chowk Bazaar is one of the oldest and most popular traditional markets in the city. It offers a wide range of traditional crafts, including textiles, jewelry, pottery, and handicrafts.
- New Market - A popular shopping destination in Bhopal, New Market is a bustling market that offers a wide range of products, including clothes, shoes, electronics, and souvenirs.
- Bittan Market - Located near the Habibganj railway station, Bittan Market is a popular market for clothes, shoes, accessories, and household items.
- Old Bhopal Market - Located in the old city area of Bhopal, this market is known for its traditional crafts, including embroidered fabrics, handwoven shawls, and silver jewelry.
- Bhopal Haat- A popular cultural and handicrafts center that offers a wide range of traditional crafts, including textiles, paintings, pottery, and woodwork. It also hosts cultural events and performances.
- Habibganj Market - Located near the Habibganj railway station, this market is known for its clothing and accessories, including traditional Indian outfits.
Bhopal has several famous shops that caters to all kinds of needs of the visitors. Here are some of the famous shops in Bhopal from where you can get items such as clothing at wholesale price, bakery items, sweets and snacks, wedding outfits and accessories, groceries, electronics, etc.
- Mrignayani Emporium
- Jai Hind Bakery (Since 1949)
- Hamleys, DB City Mall
- Milan Sweets and Namkeen
- Top 'N Town Bakers
- Bahurani Saree
- Al Muin Perfumes
- Bhopal Bakehouse & Cafe
Museums and Art Galleries in Bhopal
- Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum- A museum dedicated to the history and culture of the various tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh. It features exhibits on their customs, traditions, art, and crafts.
- State Museum of Madhya Pradesh- A museum that houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits on the history and culture of Madhya Pradesh, including ancient sculptures, coins, and manuscripts.
- Museum of Man - A unique museum that explores the evolution of mankind and their relationship with nature. It features interactive exhibits, models, and dioramas.
- Roopankar Museum of Fine Arts - A museum dedicated to the fine arts of India, including painting, sculpture, and textiles. It features a collection of contemporary and traditional Indian art.
- National Museum of Mankind- A museum that showcases the diversity and richness of the country's tribal cultures, with exhibits on their traditional knowledge, skills, and practices.
- Bharat Bhavan - A multi-arts complex that includes a museum of Indian arts, an art gallery, a theater, and a library. It showcases contemporary and traditional Indian art and hosts cultural events.
- Swaraj Bhawan - This art gallery is a great place for art and craft exhibitions and specializes in its art collections, exhibitions, paintings, photographs, art programs, and craft exhibitions. Several cultural and literature activities also take place here.
Events / Festivals
Bhopal is a city in India with a rich cultural heritage, and there are many festivals and events that take place throughout the year. Apart from the common festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Eid, Dussehra, etc., here are some of the major festivals and events in Bhopal:
- Bhopal Utsav - A 10-day cultural festival held in October that features music, dance, theater, and food.
- Taj Mahotsav - A festival held in February at the Bhopal Haat that celebrates the rich culture and traditions of India.
- Bhopal Lokrang: Bhopal Lokrang is a five-day-long festival of art and culture that takes place every year in January. The festival showcases traditional folk dances, music, and other cultural performances from across the country.
- Bhopal Ijtema: Bhopal Ijtema is a three-day-long annual Islamic congregation that takes place in November or December. The event is attended by people from all over the world and features religious discourses, prayer sessions, and other Islamic cultural activities.
Gardens and Parks
- Bharat Bhavan Park: This beautiful park is located next to the Bharat Bhavan cultural center and features beautiful gardens, sculptures, and fountains.
- Moti Masjid Garden: Located near the Moti Masjid, this beautiful garden is a popular spot for picnics and outdoor activities.
- Lower Lake Viewpoint: Located on the banks of the Lower Lake, this beautiful park offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding hills.
- Sair Sapata: This park is located on the banks of the Upper Lake and features beautiful gardens, a lake, and a range of recreational activities such as boating and water sports.
Best budget hotels:
- Hotel Arch Manor Deluxe - Prices start at around INR 1,000 per night.
- Hotel Shree Vatika - Prices start at around INR 1,000 per night.
- Hotel Palash Residency - Prices start at around INR 1,200 per night.
- Hotel Atishay - Prices start at around INR 1,200 per night.
- Hotel Sangat Plaza - Prices start at around INR 1,500 per night.
Best luxury hotels:
- Jehan Numa Palace Hotel - Prices start at around INR 7,000 per night.
- Welcom Heritage Noor-Us-Sabah Palace - Prices start at around INR 6,000 per night.
- Courtyard by Marriott Bhopal - Prices start at around INR 5,000 per night.
- Sayaji Bhopal - Prices start at around INR 5,500 per night.
- Hotel Lake View Ashok - Prices start at around INR 4,000 per night.
Best time to Visit Bhopal
You can visit the city throughout the year but the best time to visit Bhopal is between August to February when the weather is pleasant. Since Bhopal is located on a hilly area, there are several scenic views one can treat their eyes with. After the monsoon season, the lakes and streams of Bhopal brim with fresh water and the verdant greenery enhances the city’s beauty.
How to reach
- By Air: Raja Bhoj Airport is the nearest airport at 15km away from the city centre. The airport receives regular flights from all major cities across the country.
- By Train: Bhopal Junction is the main train station of Bhopal which connects to almost all cities in India via regular trains. Buses and cabs are available from the station to the city centre.
- By Road: There are several state and private run buses that run within the region of Bhopal and interstate. The main bus stand of Bhopal, ISBT is located just 3.5km from Rani Kamlapati Railway Station.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
What is Bhopal famous for?
Bhopal is known as the City of Lakes for its various natural and man-made lakes and is also one of the greenest cities in India. It is also famous for its historic monuments and the place which was ruled by begums for over a centuries.
When did the Bhopal Gas tragedy happen?
The Bhopal gas tragedy happened in December 2-3 in 1984 and is one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
Which is the famous lake in Bhopal?
The Upper Lake is the most popular and beautiful lakes in Bhopal.