Bhopal Through the Eyes of Time


“The City spreads itself in the form of an amphitheatre, on the declivity of a hill, the foot of which is bathed by a fine lake, surrounded by a circle of large trees.
Looking down upon the red-roofed houses and groups of Palace terraces, two gigantic minarets shoot proudly upwards, like two arms raised towards heaven and here and there bulb-shaped domes may be seen rising, surrounded by the golden crescent, which characterises the mosques, one of the last bulwarks of Islam in Hindostan”.
This is a beautiful description of Bhopal, as it looked to the Eyes of International traveller Louis Rousselet in 1878, in his book ‘India and its Native Princes’.

Another description by Colonel Luard, as seen from Fort Fatehgarh “To the East is the City with a Pile of white Palaces in the foreground and beyond the closely packed dwelling of the town, with the tall minarets of Qudsia Begum’s Mosque towering over them, and the Old Dam of Raja Bhoj with the lesser lake beyond it. To the North, the Taj Mahal Palace of Shah Jehan Begum with its great tanks, overlooked by the growing Taj ul Masajid destined when completed to dominate the whole”


A Fascinating City, from its early inception in the times of Raja Bhoj and Rani Kamlapati to its crystallization as a Palace city during the times of the Begums and Nawabs that ruled it, Bhopal has witnessed a Pantomime of Regal Experiences and historical milestones.

The Terra Firma of this City and its Environs played host to Royal Passions that included Big Game Hunting, Playing Polo, indulging in Competitive Sport like Hockey and Water Sports in a Royal Boat Club and Ballroom Dancing. A city where caparisoned State Elephants in majestic Costumes, Royal Processions with Regimented horse contingents, trotted with choreographed precision, where Royal Turquoise Blue (Bhopal’s Royal Colour) bathed all Regal Attire, welcomed European Royalty, in a durbar where the Prince and Her Highness of Bhopal, gazed upon their guests from thrones of turquoise blue gold, in a white Marble hall with arches picked out in gold.


This was the absolute grandeur of the City and its Pageantry lasting right upto Independence. Of course much of its Heritage still exists and a tourist would feast his eyes on this Testimony of the past.
Some of the Palaces that can be visited are:
1) Dost Mohammad Khan’s Palace in Islamnagar
2) Rani Kamlapati’s Palace (near Chhota Talab)
3) Gohar Mahal Palace (near Bada Talab)
4) Shaukat Mahal
5) Sadar Manzil
6) Sheesh Mahal
7) Moti Mahal Palace
8) Benazir Palace
9) Taj Mahal Palace
10) Noor us Sabah Palace
11) Ahmedabad Palace
12) Jehan Numa Palace (now a World Class Luxury Hotel run by Families of Erstwhile Bhopal Royalty)
The Hotel Epitomizes Epicurean Luxury, Grandeur, Grace and Personalized Management with owner Commitment, unparalleled in India.


The Legacy of the Begums also included Grand buildings and Masjids built to dominate the skyline and add grandeur to the city.
Some of the ‘must visit’ sites are:
1) Taj-ul Masajid (Dominates Bhopal’s Skyline)
2) Moti Masajid (Pearl Mosque)
3) Gol Ghar (Gulshan & Alam)
4) Minto Hall
5) King Edward Museum (now a Library)
All sites Featured/Mentioned are well within the confines of the City, with the exception of the Palace of Dost Mohammad Khan (Islamnagar), which is about 7 miles north west of Bhopal.
For the Traveller to Bhopal, looking to Feast on Heritage and Archaeological Sites, besides the City Specific attractions mentioned, there are World Heritage Sites beckoning, from Bhimbetka Caves.. 30,000 B.C, Sanchi Stupa.. 250 B.C, Uday Giri Caves.. 500 A.D, Bhojpur Temple.. 1000 A.D, Raisen and Ginnorgarh Forts.. 12th century.
All these sites are within 40/50 kms north and south of Bhopal city.

Our next Article will showcase Bhopal after Independence, detailing and highlighting its growth into a Modern city, a true Paradise for Peace, Nature, Culture and Harmony.

One of the Greenest Cities in India

Joe Alvares Author of ‘BHOPAL, Echoes of an Era” – Coffee Table Book