Bhopal is not exactly on the top of the list when it comes to travel itineraries in India and honestly I also only visited as this was a convenient place to start my Madhya Pradesh leg of the trip.
But and there’s a but here alright, I was extremely positively surprised by the city. Usually people know Bhopal as that place where the horrible chemical disaster happened. Sure, there’s that, but did you also know it has one of the most interesting museums out there?
If not, then do continue on and see how you can make the city an an incredibly interesting place to see and discover what to do in Bhopal, even if it’s only for a day. If you want to, there are enough sights to keep you entertained for full two days as well, although they are not strictly speaking in Bhopal, but rather about an hour’s drive away.
You can see all the sights, activities and places to eat which are listed below in a handy Google Map at the end of this blog post.
Bhopal 1 day itinerary
Taj Ul Masajid
Best way to get a feel for any city is to do it on foot for at least a part of your visit. That said, start your day by walking from your hotel to Taj Ul Masajid, one of the largest mosques in India. That walk will be most rewarding if you’re staying in the old part of the town, as that way you’ll be able to see various small bazaars, teeming with people and produce. Once you reach the mosque, you’ll be rewarded by a beautiful sight and the lack of visitors makes for a very serene and private visit.
Pop your head into one of the classrooms on the side of the main court and you might even have a lovely chat with one of the Islamic teachers there. They seem to be a friendly bunch and I ended up having an interesting conversation with one of them.
There are kids reciting Quran everywhere, which makes for a magnificent photo opportunity.
Walk along the lake
Bhopal has a really pretty lakefront going on, so after you’re done with the mosque, Many Indian cities lack proper walking areas and you should definitely make the best out of this lovely footpath. Grab yourself a tea and just relax at the shore or if you feel like it, take one of those pedal boats out for a ride. They have them for hire further along the path, about 30 minutes walking distance from the city center.
Lunch – Wind and Waves Restaurant
After hunger kicks in, a good choice is the Wind and Waves Restaurant, perched slightly above the lake, offering splendid views of the area. If you walk up to the boat hire place mentioned before, then it’s just slightly uphill on a road leading from the waterfront. You can see it along with all the sights mentioned in a handy Google Map below.
While you can of course eat a cheaper meal elsewhere in town, the view in my opinion was worth the bill, which came up to 300 RS for Dal Makhani, Butter Nan, tea and mineral water, not exactly expensive in any case.
Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum
And now for the star attraction of Bhopal, a definite must see! You’ll want to take a riksha to reach it, as it is a bit out of the city center. This museum is honestly one of the best I’ve ever been to. The entire place depicts various tribal communities and their architecture, handicrafts and art across the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is spectacularly diverse. The entrance fee is a mere 10RS for Indians and 100RS for foreigners.
The best part of the whole museum concept is that the members of these communities have built the displays themselves. You’ll easily spend two or three hours inside this gem. Make sure to read various origin stories, which can be quite amusing.
As is usually the case with tribal communities, the ones depicted here have lived in symbiosis with nature for a long time and they always use locally sourced materials. Another interesting aspect is the importance of aesthetics, as even the simplest of everyday items can be seen crafted into a visually appealing piece.
Once you’re done seeing all the marvelous exhibits, a good idea would be to have the staff at the museum call you a cab or a riksha to get back to the center.
Dinner – Zam Zam
To finish the day, go indulge in some mouthwatering chicken tikka kebab at Zam Zam. It’s more of a fast food / street food kind of a place, so if you’re looking for a beautiful setting, choose another place. However if you are ready for a delicious chicken tikka, you’ve come to the right place. It’s spicy alright, but oh so good. I wish I had more 🙂
Bhopal itinerary – Location of sights and eats
(Click on that little star and you’ll get this map saved to your Google Maps)
Additional things to do for a longer stay in Bhopal
In case you want a more packed day or are planning to stay longer in Bhopal, the following are all well worth the visit:
-Sanchi: About an hour and a half outside Bhopal, this makes for an interesting day trip to see some interesting Buddhist monuments.
-State Museum of Madhya Pradesh: Another great museum focusing on archaeology.
-National Museum of Mankind: If you feel you want to get to know even more about the tribes, complement your visit of the Tribal Museum by continuing on here. It’s an open air complex.
If you’re looking for even more info, check the Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s official website.