Bhopal is a good mix of the old and the new with old portions of Bhopal reminiscent of the Mughal influence and the new ones showcasing the planned development of a modern Indian city. Bhopal is the seat of the Madhya Pradesh government and is a beautiful mid-sized city in the heart of India. It is said that Bhopal was first called "Bhoj-pal" after Raja Bhoj, who is credited with founding the city. It was an important part of the "Bhoj" kingdom with Ujjayini (modern-day Ujjain, about 190 km from Bhopal) being the seat of the kingdom.
Bhopal is also known for the world's worst industrial disaster, the poisonous mithyl isocyanide (MIC) gas leak from the Union Carbide plant in December 1984. The accident caused over 3,700 officially recognised deaths, half a million injuries, many birth defects, and the survivors continue to suffer to this day. Yet the impoverished still live in slums next to the abandoned plant.
- 1 Raja Bhoj Airport (BHO IATA), ☏ , email@example.com. Raja Bhoj Airport's terminal comprises separate sections for domestic and international flights. Separate entry and exit points have been made for national and international flights. A 1,500-capacity car park is outside the airport. Air India links Bhopal with New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. SpiceJet Airlines, IndiGo Airlines and Air India are providing their servises from this airport. .
The city is a hub for the West Central Railway (WCR) network. The main railway stations are 2 in Old Bhopal and 3 (formerly Habibganj) in New Bhopal. Vande Bharat and Shatabdi Express trains run between Delhi and Bhopal.
National highways connect the city to the rest of India.
Bhopal has a decent public transportation system comprising of buses, mini-buses and three-wheeled autos. It is also fairly easy to book a taxi for a full day to get in and around the city for reasonable rates. Ola and Uber are also available. Usually, any hotel you choose to stay in will help you get transportation according to your needs. If it's your first visit to Bhopal, the safest thing to do is book a taxi rather than try the public transportation system in Bhopal.
A private firm operates citybus service with full-sized buses called Star-bus, which is quite safe to travel.
Kushabhau Thakrey Interstate Bus Terminal is the main Bus terminal of Bhopal which is near MP Nagar.
You can easily visit Bhopal by car, and there are many rental car companies available. Radio taxis are available by calling 0755-655 5555
You can even get a self-drive car to use for your travel in and around Bhopal, there are multiple options of cars to choose from. Dial 9512341234 to book one.
Bhopal is a city rich in heritage and history. It's an amalgam of the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the wide roads of New Bhopal and the narrow "gullies" of Old Bhopal and a mix of planned development on one side with urban sprawl on the other.
There are various places of worship in Bhopal, both old and new, that will give you a glimpse into the Mughal architecture, some of it from before the British raj. The people of Bhopal, particularly the mix of the Muslim and the Hindu population will also give you a glimpse of what makes India tick with different religions and cultures living together.
- Jama Masjid.
- Moti Masjid.
- 1 Taj-ul-Masajid. One of the largest mosques in the country.
- 2 Bhojeshwar Temple. The construction of the Shiva temple began in the 11th century but was never completed. It boasts the largest monolithic Shivalinga in India.
- 3 Laxminarayan Temple (Birla mandir). 06:00 to 20:00. free.
- 4 Manua Bhan Tekari (Tekri) (near Lal Ghati). A very beautiful place with an ancient Shwetambar Jain temple on the hill. You can see a beautiful view of Bhopal from this Takeri. You can drive up to the temple but there is limited parking. There is parking available at the base of the hill. Ropeway cable car is available to go up. Tickets are ₹90 for two way ride and ₹60 for one way ride. Cash and UPI payments are accepted.
Also recommended is a visit to old city market (chowk bazaar) and a walk around the narrow lanes to see how the old city functions and also to get some great bargains on the special arts of Bhopal like the bead work and the hand embroidery for which Bhopal is known.
On the modern development side, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has made significant efforts to make Bhopal an important seat for the arts. Bharat Bhawan is an example of this, a centre for performing arts. It has art galleries, an outdoor theater, and a library, rich with history of Indian poetry and arts.
- 5 Bharat Bhavan, J. Swaminathan Marg, Shamla Hills, Near Upper Lake, ☏ . Bharat Bhavan is a world-famous art complex and museum.
- 6 Regional Museum of Natural History, Shahpura Rd, near State Bank, E-5, Arera Colony, ☏ . Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal is a branch of the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi, it is the center of an informal environment education, whose main purpose is to make people aware of environmental protection through various internal and external activities. Free.
- 7 Bhimbetka (Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka). Bhimbetka is a World Heritage site and has some of the oldest cave paintings of the world. It is about 40 km from Bhopal. Taxi from Bhopal is a comfortable option to reach. A guide at the cave paintings is recommended and costs around ₹150. You can go there by bus as well. Tell the bus driver where you are going and he will drop you off at the T junction on main road. Clear signs will now guide you through a 3 km walk uphill to the cave paintings. To get back, wait at the main road and waive for a bus or taxi.
- 8 (Museum of Mankind). Another impressive museum; the Museum of Man created by the government of Madhya Pradesh, showcases how the people of the state live in their natural form, what they cultivate, the kind of tools they make and utilize in their daily lives etc. It has been created sprawled on a small hill and gives breath taking views of the city.
- 9 MP Tribal Museum. A museum of tribal culture. The exhibits depict the ways of living of various tribes across India. There are model houses, courtyards, artifacts of worshipping rituals, marriage rituals and everyday life. The museum is well maintained. There is a restaurant for tea and snacks. ₹20 per adult, ₹100 for photography even with a mobile phone.
- 10 Science Centre (Regional Science Centre). A science museum at Shyamla Hills.
- 11 Shaurya Smarak, Arera Hills. Th-Tu Noon-7PM. A war memorial, museum and public park honouring Indian soldiers, in particular those from the state of Madhya Pradesh, that have fought in recent wars. There is ample parking space and audio tours are available. ₹10 entry fee for adults.
- 12 Union Carbide Chemical Plant. Site of the world's worst industrial disaster. For interested urban explorers, avoid the main gate: it is possible to enter the site where there is 1 a hole in the perimeter walls. Local children and cows roam inside the area of the old plant. Abandoned industrial structures and buildings make for good photo opportunities.
There are two lakes in the centre of Bhopal, together forming the Bhoj Wetland.
- 13 Upper Lake (Bhojtal). A beautiful water body created during the time of King Bhoj. The water of Upper Lake was reputed to have cured Raja Bhoj of a skin disease which otherwise remained untreated. Today, you can rent boats, indulge in other water sports related activities and enjoy the splendour of the lake.
- 14 Lower Lake (chota talaab). This lake is separated from the Upper Lake by an over-bridge. It was created during the Mughal empire.
Along the Upper Lake and surrounding hills, the Forest department of Madhya Pradesh has created the biggest animal conservation area in the middle of a city. You can see tigers, leopards, bears, different types of water animals, birds, deers, etc., as you drive around "Van Vihar"
- 15 Van Vihar National Park, Lake View Walk Path, Krishna Nagar, Shymala Hills. Van Vihar is a wildlife sanctuary. It has a diverse range of fauna, including several species of deer, big cats, snakes, birds and gharials which can be seen basking in the ponds.
Bhopal is a fairly quiet city for nightlife, and has few clubs and bars. Most of the restaurants close around 11PM, although many in the larger hotels have bars that are open at least midnight. The hotels of Amer Palace and The Residency in the Maharana Pratap Nagar have nightclubs.
No visit to this city is complete without buying some bead work or embroidered purses, bags, shawls, tunics etc. Also, you can get good quality fabric (silk, satin, cashmere, pashmina) from the various emporiums run and operated by the governments of the different states of India. One visit to Bhopal will give you an exposure into the various kinds of fabric and material, arts and crafts that come from different parts of the country.
To buy arts and crafts specifically originating in Madhya Pradesh as well as fabrics/ sarees/ shawls from Madhya Pradesh, visit the MP Government state emporium Mrignayani.
To buy some authentic north Indian fabric and shawls head towards Lakherapura in the old city. The Chowk are is also famous for the traditional glittering ladies purses.
Also a visit to New Market is worth a try.
- 1 Aashima Mall (on Hoshangabad Road). Has a hypermarket, a 7-screen multiplex and food court.
- 2 DB city Mall (at Arera Hills near M.P.Nagar). Daily 10:30AM to 8:30PM (may vary for restaurants & cinemas). It has 7 anchor shops, 180 shops, 6-screen multiplex, 4-star hotel and a food court.
Bhopal, like any other north Indian city offers a rich Indian cuisine to explore. People enjoy eating the sweet - sour and spicy "chaat" in Bhopal. Due to the Mughal influence, Bhopal also offers delicacies like Kebabs, Goat Biryani, Chicken Tikka, Jalebi, and Ras Malai. The best chicken Biryani can be tasted at Jameel Hotel in old Bhopal.
Sashas restaurant in Indrapuri offers good South Indian non-vegetarian delicacies.
Hotel Jehanuma Palace in Bhopal has a very good restaurant that serves awesome North Indian delicacies. Hotel Noor us Sabah also has a couple of good restaurants to choose from. As in any mid-sized Indian city, the safest bets for good food and a variety of cuisines are in restaurants that are part of 3-4 star hotels.
Apart from North Indian and Mughlai cuisine, you can also savour Indo-Chinese, Continental and American cuisine in the various restaurants of Bhopal.
If you have a mixed taste, Generationext restaurant is a good option for you. An eclectic mix of cuisine is served, that is likely to suit your taste (and pocket too). There are many other good eating spots in New Market, MP Nagar and Hoshangabad Road area.
Filfora, Koh-e-fiza is a very good place for Mughlai delicacies. Kadai ghost may be best to eat here and biryanis of both made with chicken and mutton are good.
'Juli' is one of the famous Bengali mithai (sweets), and is available in the old city at Jain Mithai Bhandar.
- Chhapan Bhog, new market (straight away towards new market road from MP Nagar), ☏ . 10AM to 10PM. Basically a restaurant-cum-sweets shop.
- 1 Hotel Rajhans (Close to Hanuman Ganj police station). Tasty and unlimited thalis at a very reasonable price.
- 2 Indian Coffee House, New Market.
- Manohar Dairy and Restaurant, Hamidiya Road. Clean restaurant with a very wide selection of food and sweets. Tasty but portions are small. They seem to have a few branches in the city.
For tourists from foreign countries, it's recommended that they stick to mineral water. If you want to be adventurous, try the sugarcane juice from the streetside vendors. If you are lucky, you will not get an upset stomach and will be able to enjoy the rich sweetness of sugarcane.
Alcoholic drinks: Only use hotel bars for this as there are very few pubs in the city and the local bars are not a place to hang out. The only good place other than hotels is the Tavern Pub at Board Office Roundabout in M P Nagar.
Bhopal has some good budget as well as 3- to 4-star hotels to choose from if you want to spend a few nights in the city. A couple of hotels in the old Bhopal area are considered Grand Heritage hotels as they have been converted from palaces and residences of the Mughal era to modern hotels. Jehan Numa Palace Hotel and Noor us Sabah Hotel fall under this category and staying here will transport you into an era where you will be able to imagine how the Mughal aristocracy lived a life of pure luxury. The customer service at both these hotels is exemplary and you will enjoy your stay here.
Towards the New Bhopal area, Hotel Lake View run by the Ashoka group is a decent place to stay in. Also, hotels in the commercial hub of Bhopal, Maharana Pratap Nagar, like Amer Palace, The Residency, Nisarga, etc. serve more business travelers to Bhopal but are certainly good places to consider.
- Amer Palace, 209, Zone-1, Maharana Pratap Nagar, ☏ , .
- Hotel Arch Manor, 243 A, Zone 1 MP Nagar (DB Mall Chowraha, NH), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: noon. ₹1800.
- Hotel Ganpati, 256, Zone-2 M.P. Nagar (Near Sargam Cinema).
- Hotel Savera Inn, Lalwani Compound Hamidia Rd, ☏ .
- Jehan Numa Palace, 157, Shamla Hill, ☏ , , email@example.com.
- Lake View Ashoka, ☏ , , , , fax: , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Shiamla Hills Opp. TV Tower Premises.
- Nisarga, 211, Zone 1, Maharana Pratap Nagar, ☏ , .
- Noor us Sabah Hotel, V.I.P. Road, Koh-e-Fiza, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- The Residency, 08, Zone -1, Maharana Pratap Nagar, ☏ .
Bhopal makes an excellent starting point if you want to travel to some unexploited but breathtakingly beautiful places in Madhya Pradesh.
- Khajuraho (383 km): A group of magnificent temples, listed on UNESCO World Heritage List
- Mandu (285 km): A ancient citadel with palaces, mosques and tombs
- Pachmarhi (210 km): A quaint little army settlement, known as the Hill Station of Madhya Pradesh is about 210 km from Bhopal.
- Sanchi (46 km): Famous for its huge Buddhist Stupa listed on UNESCO World Heritage List
- Bhimbetka rock shelters (45 km): Famous for its Paleolithic paintings listed on UNESCO World Heritage List