According to folklore, Bhopal was founded in 11th century by the Paramara king Bhoja, who ruled from his capital at Dhar. This theory states that Bhopal was originally known as Bhojpal after a dam (pal) constructed by the king's minister. No archaeological evidence, inscriptions or historical texts support the claim about an earlier settlement founded by Bhoja at the same place, although the Bhojeshwar Temple ascribed to him exists at Bhojpur, which is 28 km from Bhopal. An alternative theory says that the city is named after another king called Bhupala (or Bhupal).
In the early 18th century, Bhopal was a small village in the Gond kingdom. The modern Bhopal city was established by Dost Mohammad Khan (1672–1728), an Afghan soldier in the Mughal army. After the death of the emperor Aurangzeb, Khan started providing mercenary services to local chieftains in the politically unstable Malwa region. In 1709, he took on the lease of Berasia estate and later annexed several territories in the region to establish the Bhopal State. Khan received the territory of Bhopal from the Gond queen Kamlapati in lieu of payment for mercenary services and usurped her kingdom after her death. In the 1720s, he built the Fatehgarh fort in the village, which developed into the city of Bhopal over the next few decades.
Bhopal became a princely state after signing a treaty with the British East India Company in 1818. Between 1819 and 1926, the state was ruled by four women, Begums — unique in the royalty of those days — under British suzerainty. Qudsia Begum was the first woman ruler, who was succeeded by her only daughter Sikandar Begum, who in turn was succeeded by her only daughter, Shahjehan Begum. Sultan Jahan Begum was the last woman ruler who, after 25 years of rule, abdicated in favour of her son, Hamidullah Khan. The rule of Begums gave the city its waterworks, railways, a postal system, and a municipality constituted in 1907.
Bhopal State was the second-largest Muslim-ruled princely state: the first being Hyderabad. After the independence of India in 1947, the last Nawab expressed his wish to retain Bhopal as a separate unit. Agitations against the Nawab broke out in December 1948, leading to the arrest of prominent leaders including Shankar Dayal Sharma. Later, the political detainees were released, and the Nawab signed the agreement for Bhopal's merger with the Union of India on 30 April 1949. The Bhopal state was taken over by the Union Government of India on 1 June 1949.
On December 1984, a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked around 32 tons of toxic gases, including methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas which led to the worst industrial disaster to date. The official death toll was initially recorded around 4,000. A Madhya Pradesh government report stated 3,787 deaths, while other estimates state the fatalities were significantly higher (16,000) from the accident and the medical complications caused by the accident in the weeks and years that followed. The higher estimates have been challenged. The impact of the disaster continues to this day in terms of psychological and neurological disabilities, blindness, skin, vision, breathing, and birth disorders. The soil and ground water near the factory site have been contaminated by the toxic wastes. The Bhopal disaster continues to be the part of the socio-political debate; the clean-up of environmental contamination and rehabilitation of those affected continues to challenge the people of Bhopal. December 3 is annually observed as the official day of mourning, and every year, all government offices in Bhopal remain closed on this day.
Bhopal has an average elevation of 500 metres (1401 ft). Bhopal is located in the central part of India, and is just north of the upper limit of the Vindhya mountain ranges. Located on the Malwa plateau, it is higher than the north Indian plains and the land rises towards the Vindhya Range to the south. The city has uneven elevation and has small hills within its boundaries. The prominent hills in Bhopal are Idgah hills and Shyamala hills in the northern region, Katara hills in southern region. City's geography has in it two lakes namely upper lake and lower lake.
Bhopal has a humid subtropical climate, with cool, dry winters, a hot summer and a humid monsoon season. Summers start in late March and go on till mid-June, the average temperature being around 30 °C (86 °F), with the peak of summer in May, when the highs regularly exceed 40 °C (104 °F). The monsoon starts in late June and ends in late September. These months see about 40 inches (1020 mm) of precipitation, frequent thunderstorms and flooding. The average temperature is around 25 °C (77 °F) and the humidity is quite high. Temperatures rise again up to late October when winter starts, which lasts up to early March. Winters in Bhopal are cool, and not very much comfortable like summers, with average daily temperatures around 16 °C (61 °F) and little or no rain. The winter peaks in January when temperatures may drop close to freezing on some nights. Lowest temperature ever recorded was 0.3C. Total annual rainfall is about 1146 mm (46 inches).
According to the 2011 census, the population of the Bhopal city (the area under Bhopal Municipal Corporation) is 1,798,218, with 936,168 males and 862,050 females. The population of the Bhopal metropolitan area (the urban agglomeration that extends beyond Bhopal city) was 1,886,100 in 2011. The total effective literacy rate (for population aged 7+ years) was 85.24%, with male and female literacy respectively at 89.2% and 80.1%.
Out of Bhopal's total population in 2001, 1.34 million were Hindus (73%), 420,000 were Muslims (23%), and rest were Jains, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and others.
Bhimbetka Caves are about 35 kilometres from Bhopal city. They have evidence of dwellings of pre-historic man during the Paleolithic era. Rock paintings in the caves are specimens of pre-historic settlements in India. There are about 600 caves, but only 12 are open for visitors. The caves are located in the midst of sal and teak forests. They were discovered by Wakankar in 1957. UNESCO declared Bhimbetka Caves as a World Heritage Site in 2003.
Regional Science Center is a science museum located on the picturesque Shyamala Hills. This centre houses about 300 science exhibits in ‘Invention’ and ‘Fun Science’ galleries. ‘Taramandal’ and Planetarium at the centre helps the students and enthusiasts study the astral and mysterious world of stars, galaxies and the universe. Stargazing sessions are organised at the planetarium for those who want to have a real close view of these luminous bodies.
The Museum of Mankind in Bhopal exhibits tribal and folk houses from all corners of India.
Bharat Bhavan is the main cultural centre of the city. It has an art gallery, an open-air amphitheatre facing the Upper Lake, two other theatres and a tribal museum.
Diwali and Eid are major festivals in Bhopal. Gifts and sweets are exchanged and donation are made to the poor. Diwali is celebrated by worshiping the wealth goddess Lakshmi. Eid is special to the city as all the Hindus take time out to visit their Muslim friends and greet them and get treated with delicacies, the speciality of the day being sweet sewaiya. Bhopali culture is such that both Hindus and Muslims visit each other on their respective festivals to greet and exchange sweets. During Ganesh puja and Durga Puja (Navratras), idols of Ganesh and Durga are established in jhankis throughout the city. People throng to offer prayers to their deities. At the end of Navratras, on the day of Vijayadashami (or Dussehra), huge effigies of Ravan are burnt in different parts of the city. Some of them are organised by the local administration and stand as tall as 60 feet (18 m).
Bhopal Ijtema is an annual Muslim world preachers congregation, is held at Ghasipura 11 km from Bhopal. The congregation is said to be one of the largest Islamic gathering other than Hajj at Mecca in Saudi Arabia and "Bishwa Ijtima" at Tongi in Bangladesh. The annual congregation near Bhopal draws between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Muslims from all over the globe.
The major industries in the old city are electrical goods, medicinal, cotton, chemicals and jewellery. Other industries include cotton and flour milling, cloth weaving and painting, as well as making matches, sealing wax, and sporting equipment. The residents of Bhopal also engage in large retail businesses. Handicrafts, like zardozi and batua (a small string purse, usually used with Indian traditional dresses) are some of the products of the Old City.
Bhopal is also home to the DB Corp, informally called the Bhaskar Group (after its major publication Dainik Bhaskar), a Rs. 1700 crore (Rs. 17 billion) business conglomerate with strong presence in media. Its head office is located in Maharana Pratap Nagar. Manjul Publishing House, located in the old city, is a major publishing house made famous by the translation of the Harry Potter series of novels into Hindi.Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprise in India, has a unit in Bhopal. It occupies a large area in the Eastern Part of the city and maintains a suburb named after it. A majority of the residents of the BHEL Suburb are employed by the unit.
Mandideep is an industrial suburb of Bhopal. It is located to the south of the city on the NH 12. Mandideep's total exports are worth some 2,300 crore rupees ($500m; £300m) per year, making it the largest industrial area in Madhya Pradesh. The town is home to Hindustan Electo Graphite (HEG), owning the largest graphite electrode plant in the world and is the largest industrial company in the entire state. Hindustan Electro Graphite (HEG) and Lupin Laboratories ltd. are the dominant companies in the suburb, each exports worth around 900 crore rupees. Apart from that, Mandideep also houses the manufacturing plant of Makson group of company, Eicher Tractors for the oldest tractor manufacturers in India.
Bhopal has more than 550 state-sponsored schools, which are affiliated to the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education (MPBSE). In addition, there are five Kendriya Vidyalayas in the city, affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The city is also served by numerous other private schools affiliated to either CBSE or MPBSE.
Some schools are also affiliated to National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and ICSE Board, Institution Of Secondary Distance Education (ISDE) or Private Non-Governmental Board of School Education.
The Bhopal is the home of many universities and national Institutes. The institutes and universities headquartered in the city include
Bhopal Municipal Corporation is the urban civic body which oversees the needs of Bhopal city. The municipal corporation is spread over an area of 285.88 km2 (110.38 sq mi). The city is divided into 85 wards. Each ward elects a corporator. The winning party elects a council of members, who are responsible for various departments.
Bhopal Municipal Corporation was ranked 3rd out of 21 Cities for best governance and administrative practices in India in 2014. It scored 3.7 on 10 compared to the national average of 3.3. The present mayor of the city is Alok Sharma. Chhavi Bhardwaj is the municipal commissioner of the city.
It houses the State Legislative Assembly, or the Vidhan Sabha, which seats 230 members of Legislative Assembly. The thirteenth (and current) Vidhan Sabha was elected in May 2013. As of February 2016, the party in the majority in Vidhan Sabha is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 166 seats which is led by Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Bhopal district elects seven seats to the Assembly.
The Raja Bhoj International Airport is located near the satellite suburb Bairagarh is the primary airport serving Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.
There are three routes or ways to reach the airport: (1) Via Bairagarh, (2) Via Panchvati, (3) Via Gandhi nagar road (N.H 12). From within the city, VIP road, a four lane road connects with the airport. Bhopal Airport is the international airport of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and lies 15 km to the north of the city. International flights began operations in 2010. Domestic direct flight services operate from Jet Airways, JetKonnect and Air India. As of July 2016, Bhopal has non-stop flights to New Delhi, Mumbai, Jabalpur and Raipur and direct flights to Pune and Hyderabad.
Bhopal lies in the West Central Railway Zone. Considering both North-South and East-West train routes, it is one of the most rail connected cities in India which halts more than 200 daily trains, with a total of more than 380 trains within a week. The main stations of Bhopal are the Bhopal Junction station located in old Bhopal as well as Bhopal Habibganj station located in new Bhopal. Both of the stations are equipped with WiFi, has enough waiting halls, refreshment center, passenger ticket counter and ticket vending machines, vehicle parking, communication facility, sanitary facility and dedicated Government Railway Police force to ensure security. Altogether the city has six railway stations within its city limits.
The Bhopal Junction station as well as Bhopal Habibganj station are selected along with 47 other railway stations to emerge as The World Class Railway Station. While the work has already started on development of Bhopal Habibganj as the first world class railway station of India. The Bhopal Junction and Bhopal Habibganj have already received ISO 9001:2000 CERTIFICATE.
Bhopal railway stations with their station code and details:
The Bhopal Junction station houses the Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) head office under Central railways.
National Highway No.12 passes through Bhopal which connects it to Jabalpur in the East and Jaipur in the West. National Highway 86 connects Bhopal to Sagar in the East to Dewas & Ujjain in the West. State Highway 17 connects the city with Indore.
An interstate bus terminus is located near the Habibganj railway station, called the Kushabhau Thakre Inter State Bus Terminal which was inaugurated in 2011.
Bhopal has Bus Rapid Transit System, which became functional from the year 2013. Bhopal City Link Limited (BCLL) is responsible to connect the whole City by a well planned bus network. The company has identified 4 trunk and 8 standard routes in the city on which 225 buses would be operated daily (365 a day in a year), from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. 82 Bus Stops are built along the 24 km long corridor. These Bus-Stops have Display-Boards with the information of incoming Buses and siting arrangements has been made for the passengers. A 2-door system will help safe ride for the passengers, where one door will open only when the Bus arrives and another door will open only if the person carries a valid ticket.
A metro rail project is under implementation for the city and expected date is 2020.
Bhopal Badshahs is a hockey team based in Bhopal that plays in World Series Hockey. The team is captained by Indian hockey player Sameer Dad and coached by Vasudevan Bhaskaran who was the captain of India's Olympic victory in 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Badshahs defeated Chandigarh Comets in the inaugural match of 2012 World Series Hockey 4-3. Aishbagh Stadium in Bhopal is the home ground of Bhopal Badshahs.Aishbagh Stadium is a field hockey stadium in Bhopal. It has a seating capacity of more than 10,000 people.
TT Nagar Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium is Bhopal.
Shankar Dayal Sharma - 9th President of India
Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah - Revolutionary
Aslam Sher Khan - National Hockey Player and Member Of Parliament.
Najma Heptulla - Union Minister
Raghuram Rajan - 23rd Governor Of RBI
Shawar Ali - Actor
Javed Akhtar - Poet and Lyricist graduated from Saifia College, Bhopal
Jaya Bachchan -Actress
Divyanka Tripathi - TV Actress
Kaif Bhopali - Poet and Lyricist
Asad Bhopali - Poet and Lyricist
Manzoor Ahtesham - Writer and Padma Shri award recipient
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi - Former Captain of the India national cricket team
Sara Khan (TV actress)
Annu Kapoor - Actor, TV Presenter and National Film Award Winner
Kailash Chandra Joshi - Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Manzar Bhopali - Urdu Poet
Shoaib Ibrahim - TV Actor
Sameer Dad - National Hockey Player
Jalaluddin Rizvi - National Hockey Player and Arjuna Award winner
Divya Agarwal - Baller