Bhopal is said to have been originally called Bhojpal and was established in the 11th century by King Bhoja of the Parmara dynasty. It was a small village in the Gond kingdom by the 18th century, during which the Mughals had captured and ruled. The Afghan soldier - Dost Mohammed established the princely province of Bhopal in 1723 by warding off the Rajput rulers. He transformed the village of Bhopal into a fortified city, and acquired the title of Nawab. Bhopal came under the British protectorate in 1818 and was subsequently ruled by the famed Begums - Qudsia Begum, succeeded by her only daughter Sikandar Begum and then Shahjehan Begum. Bhopal flourished into a well established city under their just rule, excelling in art and infrastructure.
In 1926, the son of Jehan Begum, Hamidullah inherited the throne. During the rule of Nawab Hamidullah, the Bhopal State signed the 'Instrument of Accession' and became the part of the Indian Republic in 1947.
Bhopal is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh on the Malwa plateau. It lies at an elevation of 500 meters. The landscape is uneven and specked with small hills. The city has two beautiful lakes namely the Upper Lake and the Lower Lake, collectively known as the Bhoj Wetland. The city is lined by the Vindhya ranges to its south.
By air: The Raja Bhoj Airport of Bhopal is 15 km away from the heart of the city. It is connected to Mumbai, Indore, Gwalior and Delhi as well as international flights.
By rail: Bhopal Railway Station is a major railhead in Mumbai - Delhi broad gauge. It has connecting trains to all major cities in India.
By road: Bus facilities, both public and private are available in Bhopal. All cities in the state are connected to Bhopal by bus services.
Bhopal has a humid subtropical climate. The summers are from April to June and the winters span from November to February. Summer temperatures peak to about 47 degrees Celsius and in winters it falls to 8 degrees Celsius. Monsoon season is marked by moderate rainfall from mid June to October, but isolated rains are experienced by the city all through the year. Bhopal receives an annual rainfall of 1200 mm.
Bhopal is a thriving city with well established infrastructure like banks, hospitals, transport etc. The major industries in Bhopal are electrical goods, medicinal, cotton, chemicals, weaving and handicrafts. Bhopal boasts of more than five hundred state government sponsored schools and many other prestigious educational institutions like the Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki Vishwavidyalaya, Barkatullah University, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) etc.
Bhopal is a buzzing modern city which has moved to contemporary construction and yet retains its historic flavor. Bhopal boasts of the presence of Taj-ul-Masjid which is the largest mosque in Asia. The construction was commissioned by Begum Shahjehan and it was completed in 1971 after her death. The large complexes are resplendent with intricate details and grand architecture. The Shaukat Mahal was built in a combination of Greek, Latin and Islamic styles. Monuments like the Moti Masjid and Taj-ul-Masjid still stand exuding grandeur and overlooking the concretes and high rises of the city of Bhopal.
The rules of the Mughals and the Begums have left a beautiful mark on the culture of Bhopal. Extravagance and splendor are blended into the culture with ease. The city holds people of all religions and all the major festivals are celebrated with much aplomb. The city is a vibrant amalgamation of the Hindu and Muslim culture. A three - day Iztima (Muslim religious assembly) used to be held in the precincts of the Taj-ul-Masjid annually. It draws scores at Muslim pilgrims from all parts of India. In the culinary side, Bhopal is known for its meat delicacies like the Kebabs, honed over its Muslim rule. A well known snack is the Bafla, which is a wheat cake dunked in ghee is an ideal accompaniment with a thick bowl of Dal (pulses). Paan or betel holds a popular place in Bhopal. Here, it is considered a science and art to make the different delicious varieties.
The people of Bhopal are a mix of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. The main language spoken is Hindi but a dialect called Bhopali is also prominent. The other languages spoken are Urdu and English. The traditional attires include Salwar - kameez, Kurtas and Sarees which are now worn during occasions. The younger generations have taken to contemporary and kitsch attires.
The Bhopal lake lend immense beauty to its landscape and is a feature which lingers in the memory. The vast lake called Bhojtal is a major source of water supply for the residents. It is said to have been built by the Parmara Raja Bhoj during his tenure as a king of Malwa. The city has grown around the lake and is culturally attached to it. The lake also contributes to the city's rich biodiversity.
Bhopal is famous for the Batuas embellished in zardosi work in which coins or betel nuts used to be carried by the womenfolk. The zari-zardosi handicraft has also flourished beyond this and is now a sought after craft form for its beauty and grandeur.
A Paan shop can be found in every nook and corner in Bhopal and the city is known for its 'Bhopali Paan'. These are available in many delicious varieties, toppings and even custom-made options.