Madhya Pradesh – the land of World Heritage Sites, temples, forts, tigers, abundant forests, mountain ranges, verdant valleys, rivers and holy cities…
Team Brown Scooter visited Madhya Pradesh last month to be a part of The Tourism Government’s Travel Mart 2017 and explore a part of the heart of the India. With many of the properties acquiring a status of heritage and 3-star, the state has now become one of the leading destinations in India. It is home to many cultures and has even won Best Tourism State Award twice since 2010.
MP Travel Mart 2017 was a showcase of Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, Leisure and other related industries. A platform for travel-trade industry and other stake holders from India and abroad to interact and explore possibilities of work to promote tourism across 2 days. Here’s a glimpse.
While we spent a considerable amount of time walking from one stall to the other, networking with various businesses; a morning was spent on a heritage walk in Bhopal. Bhopal – known as the city of lakes is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Did you know that there are 17 lakes in the city?
To reach Bhopal is amazingly convenient!
A blend of old and new facets, Bhopal was governed by the begums. The heritage walk organised by the team India City Walks took us through a storytelling journey through the architecture, culture and spiritual blend of the historic Bhopal. The Heritage Walk comprised of – Iqbal Maidan, Moti Masjid, Sadar Manzil and Sheesh Mahal, Shaukat Mahal, Taj-ul-Masajid and Taj Mahal.
Iqbal Maidan – Named after the famous Urdu poet Allama Mohammed Iqbal, Iqbal Maidan is right across the street from Sheesh Mahal and offers a beautiful sight of sunrise.
Moti Masjid – Built in 1862 by Sikander Jahan Begum, it is similar to Delhi’s Jama Masjid in style. The sunrise view was utterly beautiful from up here. Make sure you soak in every sight while you walk inside, for every wall and corner speaks a story of yesteryears.
Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil – If you stand near Iqbal Maidan you can view a part of Moti Masjid and façade of Shaukat Mahal. It was the residence of Nawab Jahangir Mohammed and his wife – Begum Sikandar Jahan. It was worked upon by a French architect. Few most peculiar things about this Mahal are – elongate windows, the arch which is a combination of both European and Islamic architecture. It is currently under renovation. Nearby is Sadar Manzil – a once-opulent, Hall of Public Audience of the former rulers of Bhopal.
Taj-ul-Masajid – Probably one of the most majestic landmark I have ever seen. Taj-ul-Masajid is the biggest mosque in Asia and one of the most important attractions of Bhopal. Masajid – plural of Masjid – this mosque is known as the crown of all mosques. The mosque is now used as a Prayer Hall and a Madrasa to impart education among young children and college-goers and can accommodate 1,75,000 at a time. Four languages are taught in this mosque – Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English.
The mosque was created by a Begum who was a trend setter during that time; didn’t follow pardah system and was remarried – Nawab Shah Jahan Begum. The construction was continued by her daughter Sultan Jahan Begum but could not completed in her lifetime as well. The mosque is so huge that it couldn’t be completed by one dynasty.
Every corner of this mosque makes for a picture-worthy shot, like this side of the Masajid (opposite to the grand structure). You see those blue doors? Those are classrooms too. This structure is called – Darul Uloom Jamia Husainiya Kherul Uloom – an education institute in the campus of Masajid.
Taj Mahal – Built by Shah Jahan Begum, Taj Mahal is a historic piece of architecture. It is currently under renovation and soon will be a Heritage Hotel of Bhopal. The intent of the Begum while getting the Mahal constructed was to get an exact replica of Agra’s Taj Mahal.
When one sees this piece of landmark, they cannot help but notice the blend of European and Indo-Islamic style of architecture. In the middle of Taj Mahal is a well-engineered fountain/bathing area for Begums. What you will also find are two ‘bethaks’, across each other which were used as a place for royal discussions.
One can even see Taj-ul-Masajid from Taj Mahal!
Our Heritage Walk was of 2.5 hours – a beautiful experience of exploring Bhopal’s treasured stories. If one travels thoroughly, they can enjoy not one but many facets of Madhya Pradesh’s Heritage and Culture. While our itinerary didn’t consist of the World Heritage Site Sanchi and Bhimbetka Rock Shelters…; you can definitely add them to your itinerary.
To know where we stayed and what else we covered on our trip apart from the Heritage Walk, wait for the next blog in the series – Magnificent Madhya Pradesh.