BHOJTAL A tale of two cities in one
Bhopal City
23°15'21.9"N 77°20'18.8"E


  • City of Lakes

    Known as the City of Lakes for its natural and artificial lakes

  • Nawabs of Bhopal

    Ruled by the wives of the Nawabs for over a hundred years

  • Bhopal Bada Talab

    The Bhojtal or Bada Talab is the largest man-made lake in India

  • Masjid in Bhopal


  • Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay

    The Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay documents the lives of over 450 of India’s Adivasi tribes

What's in a name?

Bhojtal Bhopal

The Begums of Bhopal

Begums of Bhopal

Split by a pair of lakes, Bhopal is two cities within a city. Two starkly contrasting cityscapes.

Towards the North you have the old city, a fascinating area of mosques, serpentine alleys, chowks, milling crowds, exotic havelis and crowded bazaars.

South of the two lakes is the new Bhopal. Modern, with wide roads, upmarket shopping complexes, and plush hotels and restaurants nestled comfortably in the Arera and Shamla Hills, which overlook the lakes and the old city beyond. The central district is known as New Market.

Both Bhopals enamour you in their own way and vie to bring out the child within you.

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Where incredible facts, legends and stories come to life

Points of interest
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How to get here?

Reaching by Air

Reaching Bhopal by Air

Bhopal airport, about 13 km northwest of the city center, is well connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Raipur. Taxis are available from the airport to reach the city center.

Reaching by Rail

Reaching Bhopal by Rail

Bhopal is on the Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal. Local buses and auto-rickshaws are available to reach the city center.

Reaching by Road

Reaching Bhopal by Road

Regular state run and private bus services connect Bhopal with Indore, Mandu, Ujjain, Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Gwalior, Sanchi, Jabalpur and Shivpuri.

The evolution of a name

Story About Name of Bhopal


As interesting as the city itself is the story about how Bhopal got its name. The city was founded in the 11th century by the illustrious Paramara King of Malwa, Raja Bhoja.

The king was engaged in a fierce power struggle with his contemporaries – the Chalukyas, Chandelas and Kalchuris. He built a pala (dam) to secure his eastern frontiers. This led to the formation of the beautiful Bada Talab (Upper Lake). He then built a fort and laid the foundations of a city that was named Bhojpal, from King Bhoja’s pala. Over a period of time Bhojpal came to be known as Bhopal.

Begums of Bhopal

Bhopal Nawab History

Sultan Jahan Begum, Begum of Bhopal -Ruled from 1901 to 1926

The most glorious phase of Bhopal’s history was heralded by the Begums who ruled the city for over a hundred years. The Begums were great reformists and patrons of education, art, culture and public works. They built several great monuments, which still stand as testaments to the city’s glorious past.

Qudsia Begum (1819-37), the first female ruler of Bhopal, came to power at the young age of eighteen. She built the elegant Jama Masjid and the Gohar Mahal Palace.

She was succeeded by her daughter, Sikander Begum (1844-68), who had great administrative ability. She brought about various reforms, such as providing proper roads, lighting, and opening schools and madarasas. She built the beautiful Moti Masjid, Moti Mahal and Shaukat Mahal.

Her successor, Shah Jahan Begum (1868-1901) was a great patron of the arts – music, poetry, painting and architecture. She authored several books in Urdu, and also carried out the first-ever compilation of the history of Bhopal in a book called Tajul Iqbal. A great administrator, she gave the city its waterworks, hospitals, postal system, printing presses, newspaper and railway service. She also left an indelible mark by building several beautiful structures, such as the Taj Mahal Palace, Taj-ul-Masajid, Sadar Manzil and Barah Mahal.

The last in the line of the great Begums was Sultan Jahan Begum (1901-1926). She was a champion of women’s education and employment. She authored several books and became the first Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University. She encouraged arts and handicrafts through annual fairs, thus also creating employment for women. The notable structures to her credit are Qaser-e-Sultani Palace, which now houses the Saifia College, Noor-us-Sabah Palace, which is now a heritage hotel, Minto Hall, which housed the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha till 1996, the Edward Museum and Hamidia Library.

The reign of the Begums has no parallel anywhere in the history of India.