OT Itinerary: Here's What To Do In Bhopal In Three-Days

The capital of Madhya Pradesh is said to have been founded Raja Bhoj who built Bhopal, or Bhojpal as it was known in the 11th century.
The beautiful Upper Lake (Bada Talab) in Bhopal
The beautiful Upper Lake (Bada Talab) in BhopalImagesofIndia/Shutterstock

Bhopal, also called the City of Lakes, is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Said to have been founded by Raja Bhoj, who constructed Bhopal, or "Bhojpal," as it was known in the 11th century. The city of lakes (it has 17) is endowed with natural beauty and architectural marvels. The central lake is claimed to have been made by the Malwa ruler to safeguard his kingdom's eastern front. The current metropolis grew up around the body of water.

The city straddles the line between tradition and modernity. The old city is a jumble of chowks, meandering streets, gorgeous mosques, and bazaars. The new part of Bhopal is a modern zone with highways, shopping malls, luxurious hotels, and restaurants. Despite the growing influence of modern buildings, its nawabi culture remains visible. Here is a three-day itinerary for a visit to Bhopal.


The Lakes

The tranquil Upper Lake or Bada Talab, an immense water body surrounded by lush greenery, is Bhopal's distinguishing feature. Choose between paddling boats leisurely on the lake all day or simply sitting and watching the flocks of water birds that fill the skyline above. VIP Road along the Bada Talab is a walker's paradise in the mornings. At night, it transforms into a somewhat quieter version of Mumbai's Marine Drive with bikers and groups of people, crowded with joggers and walkers. 

Van Vihar National Park

This urban park is located close to the Bada Talab. The area's floral and faunal diversity is a combination of lush wetlands, meadows, water pools, and mixed bamboo vegetation, as well as grass-covered plateaus and sections of mixed plantations. Located adjacent to the Bada Talab, the view of the city from Van Vihar is quite a sight. Read more about it on the website.

Gohar Mahal

The Gohar Mahal, a remarkable blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, was built in 1821 by Qudisiya Begum, or Gohar Begum, a former ruler of Bhopal. In fact, Bhopal's famed begums were ambitious rulers. Qudsia, the first begum, was a visionary who built the Jama Masjid. Her daughter Sikandar (1844-68), who ruled Bhopal during its Golden Age, was an equally zealous ruler who dressed like a Muslim monarch and rode unveiled on horseback. The fourth regent, Nawab Sultan Jahan (1901-26), was in her forties when she ascended to the throne. She was appointed as the first Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University in December 1920.


Taj-Ul-Masjid is one of the most striking mosques in India
Taj-Ul-Masjid is one of the most striking mosques in Indiasaiko3p/Shutterstock

Spread over an area of 23,912 sq ft, this is said to be among the largest mosques in India. “Taj-ul-Masajid” translates to “crown among mosques,” and it is easy to see why. A striking broad pink façade, 27 inter-arched ceilings, spacious courtyards, marble flooring, and 67m high minarets make up this arresting structure.

Address: NH 12, Kohefiza, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462001


Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya

The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sanghralaya is set on 200 acres in Shamla Hills and includes open-air displays, inside galleries, a huge audio-visual library, and a research institute dedicated to India's tribes. Each exhibition is life-like, and visitors can enter the houses and villages to feel what it's like to live in them. The displays were created with the direct participation of the tribes they represent. The museum is vast, so a good idea may be to drive around the space.

Address: Lake View Road, next to RCE campus, Shymala Hills, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462013

Tribal Museum

Striking installations at the Tribal Museum in Bhopal
Striking installations at the Tribal Museum in BhopalArun Sambhu Mishra/Shutterstock

The Tribal Museum distinguishes from others as it highlights the cultural life of the state's seven largest tribes—the Gond, Bheel, Korku, Baiga, Sahariya, Kol, and Bhariya—through their crafts. The brightly lit objects portray tribal living, aesthetics, and spiritual beliefs in a succession of amazing galleries with some roofs as high as three-storey houses. Another handful of galleries highlight the state's cultural diversity as well as the works of Chhattisgarh's tribals. The artworks dangle from trees, leap from walls, or can be viewed from a two-story wooden porch in the centre. Check out their website here.

Address: Shyamla Hills Rd, near State Museum, Shymala Hills, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462002

Bharat Bhavan

Bharat Bhavan is Bhopal's famous, Charles Correa-designed, red sandstone-clad multidisciplinary arts centre. Unlike most museums, the terrace garden-styled space has an open-ended architecture which means there is no singular and enforced way in which to move within this space. From tribal art one could stroll into the lounge next to the library (home to almost thousands of books) where on display are screen-printed handwritten poems and drawings by artists and writers.

Address: Bharat Bhavan Rd, Near Upper Lake, Krishna Nagar, Shymala Hills, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462013

State Museum 

The State Museum, whose artefacts were largely collected during the turn of the last century, is an enormous complex of several well-lit and displayed galleries of sculptures, fossils and excavated objects from pre-historic sites, manuscripts and miniature paintings, textiles, coins, heritage of former princely states and even rare musical instruments. Wear walking shoes and amble along its maze of wide limitless galleries that lead in to one another. If you are tired, then relax in the spacious sky-lit courtyard. The bronze and stone sculpture galleries go through the different periods of Buddhism, Jainism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism, as well as Sakti and Tantricism in Madhya Pradesh.

Address: 8, Shyamla Hills Rd, TT Nagar, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462013

DAY 3: Travel Around Bhopal


The Kerwa Jungle Camp, located near to the Kerwa Dam, is a great escape, particularly for families with children. Around 15 kilometres from Bhopal, there's lots to do here. Climb a watch tower for a better view of the tree canopy, walk along a hanging bridge, or go boating on the Kerwa Dam. There is a herbal garden where you can learn about medicinal herbs. Nature walks, trekking, rappelling, zip lining, kayaking, and other adventure sports are also available.


Kathotiya village is nestled in the heart of a green valley surrounded by rocky hills. It is around 25 kilometres from Bhopal. Spend a day here, eating modest meals provided by the locals, visiting neighbouring rock shelters and waterfalls, and so on. A guided village tour is also available.

Bhojpur Temple

Located around 29 kilometres from Bhopal, this temple was built around 1,000 years ago during the time of Raja Bhoj. During Shivaratri celebrations, this temple attracts a considerable number of Lord Shiva followers.

Where To Eat

Bhopal is a melting pot of culinary influences. Every bite is a blast of exquisite flavours, from the legendary Poha Jalebi, a morning classic consisting of flattened rice cooked with spices and topped with hot, crispy jalebis, to the lip-smacking Bhopali Gosht Korma, a slow-cooked mutton curry loaded with aromatic spices. The best places to sample these foods are at the food kiosks at bustling street corners. To learn about Bhopal's Nawabi food legacy, visit Old Bhopal and eat at the places around Jama Masjid, which was erected by Bhopal's first begum, and its Chowk Bazaar, which is located in the centre of the old city.

Under The Mango Tree

This is one of Bhopal's best non-vegetarian restaurants, set beneath an ancient mango tree in the heritage hotel Jehan Numa Palace. The rooftop restaurant offers amazing views of the surroundings. You can see your fod being prepared as they use an open kitchen concept.

Where: 157, Shyamla Hills Rd, Shymala Hills, Bhopal

Zam Zam

Located in the old city, this popular place has is known for tikkas and kebabs, including chicken tikka, chicken shammi kebab, and boneless chilli chicken.

Address: Hamidia Road, opposite Corporation Bank, Dangi Colony, Railway Colony, Bhopal

Manohar Dairy & Restaurant

Sample Indian vegetarian fast food at Manohar
Sample Indian vegetarian fast food at Manohar arun sambhu mishra/Shutterstock

Opened in 1970, this unassuming yet popular place is known typical Indian sweets and fast food dishes like Chole Bhature.

Address: 132 A & B, Ram Gopal Maheshwari Marg, near Jyoti Talkies, Zone-I, Maharana Pratap Nagar, Bhopal

Where To Stay

Bhopal has a good mix of budget stays, homestays, as well as luxury palace hotels. Here are a few that you can book for a stay.

Hotel Lake View, Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh Tourism's Hotel Lake View capitalises on its setting, which is located on a hill overlooking the lake. The rooms in the building provide beautiful views of the lake from their cosy balconies. The Taj-ul-Masjid's minarets may be seen from the rooftop restaurant, which has both indoor and outdoor seating. A supper here at night is enhanced by vistas of city lights glittering all along the Upper Lake's bank.

Address: 69VQ+74C, Shymala Hills, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462002

Noor-us-Sabah Palace 

Noor-Us-Sabah, which overlooks the calm Bhopal Lake and is surrounded by the Vindhya Hills, is one of Bhopal's top heritage hotels. Guests may look forward to three eating options, all of which serve delectable Indian and international cuisine.

Address: VIP Road, Koh-E-Fiza, Bhopal - 462001, Madhya Pradesh, India

Best Time To Visit

While you can go to Bhopal any time of the year, it is at its best between August and February when temperatures are cooler. The city is situated on a hill, so you get beautiful lush greenery during the monsoon and winter when streams and lakes are brimming with fresh water.

Getting There

Bhopal is well-connected to the country's main airports. Bhopal's Raja Bhoj Airport is located 15 kilometres from the city centre. If you're travelling by train, the primary railway station in Bhopal is Bhopal Junction, which is located near Hamidia Road. One of the city's key stations is the newly opened Rani Kamlapati Railway Station.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller