As my wife was traveling to Bhopal with her family last Thursday, I decided to take the chance to join them. I had been to Bhopal last year on work for a day, and I had liked what little I saw then to make me decide to visit the place on leisure.
We left by the weekly Habibganj express from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on Thursday evening, reaching Habibganj (a suburb of Bhopal) on time at 5:30 AM. Our adventure started when we could not alight from the train on time, and got carried to the yard of Bhopal station. We had to jump down to the tracks, cross another stationary train, to reach the platform. We had the misfortune of getting into an auto with a drunken driver as well!
After lunch, we started our tour of the city. The first place we visited was the Charles Correa designed "Bharat Bhavan". This is a centre for the arts, where regular art exhibitions and musical events are held. There were no major performances when we went, but the place, overlooking the Upper Lake, is very peaceful. After tea at the canteen, we left for Van Vihar, the open air zoo. But it was closed, being a Friday, so we ended up boating on the Upper Lake. The weather was extremely pleasant, and we got great close up views of Gulls (Black Headed?) on the lake.
We then visited Gohar Mahal, situated on the northern bank of the Upper Lake. The place hardly sees any tourists nowadays, except during the days when there are 'haats' within the palace. This must be quite a sight, and we would have loved to be there when one of them was on.
Our last destination for the day was the 'Laxminarayan' temple, also called 'Birla Mandir'. It is not as grand in appearance as other Birla temples, but had a good setting on a hill, overlooking the Lower Lake and the city around.