The city of Bhopal (1991 pop. 1,062,771), the former capital of the principality and now the capital of Madhya Pradesh, was founded in 1728. It is a trade center with manufactures of cotton cloth, jewelry, electrical goods, and chemicals. Bhopal has a very modern section and an old city, and hills and lakes give the environs much scenic beauty. The city is the seat of several institutions of higher education and a large mosque, the Taj-ul-masjid. There are many sites of historical and archaeological interest in Bhopal and nearby. In Dec., 1984, a cloud of methyl isocynate gas escaped from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. An estimated 3,000 to 7,000 died immediately, 15,000 to 20,000 died from the effects in the years after the disaster, and 50,000 to 100,000 suffered from serious injuries as a result of the world's worst chemical disaster. The Indian government sued on behalf of 570,000 victims and in 1989 settled for $470 million in damages and exempted company employees from criminal prosecution. The Indian judiciary rejected that exemption in 1991, and the company's Indian assets were seized (1992) after its officials failed to appear to face charges.
Bhopāl (Hindi: भोपाल bʰoːpɑːl , Marathi -भोपाळ) is a city in central India. It is the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the administrative headquarters of Bhopal District and Bhopal Division. Bhopal is the second largest city in Madhya Pradesh after Indore. Bhopal is known as the City of Lakes as its landscape is dotted with a number of natural as well as manmade lakes.
Historically, Bhopal was also the capital of the Bhopal state. The city attracted international attention as a consequence of the Bhopal disaster, when the Union Carbide plant (now a part of Dow Chemical Company) leaked deadly methyl isocyanate gas during the night of December 3 1984. The plant was operated by a separate Indian subsidiary, Union Carbide India Limited. The poisonous gas killed thousands of people in the city and its neighbouring areas, and thousands of others still suffer from its effects even two decades later. Since then, Bhopal has been a center of protests and campaigns which have been joined by many people across the globe.
Jaded with the concrete jungles which hound your every waking moment Want an escape into a world which promises a picturesque setting around two magnificent lakes and gently rolling hills Take the first train or the flight out and head straight for Madhya Pradesh's capital city Bhopal, which truly epitomizes all this and more. Situated on gently rolling hills, the state capital of Madhya Pradesh is truly modern, yet has managed to retain its quaint old worldly charm. It, truly carries itself with grace and is constantly surprising its visitors a place where bustling markets and lush green gardens beckons you to forget your worries and enjoy the warm smiles and the simple life of Bhopal. Truly, a tourist's delight with its old mosques, palaces, lakes and gardens, Bhopal has managed to retain a clean, green look which is sadly not evident in most metropolitan cities in India.
Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, situated around two artificial lakes amidst picturesque settings is also known as the city of lakes. Bhopal was built on the site of an 11th century city, 'Bhojapal', founded by the legendary king, Raja Bhoja. The existing city was developed by Dost Mohammed (1708-1740) one of Emperor Aurangazeb's Afghan governors. His progeny, including efficient women rulers ruled Bhopal until 1947 when the state finally joined the Indian Union. The old city with its crowded market places, fine old mosques and palaces intermingles with the new city with the broad avenues, high rise offices and exquisitely laid out parks and gardens. The city is famous for silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet.
On 11 April 2005, the Indian Space Research Organisation established a Master Control Facility in Ayodhya Nagar, to control the movements of satellites. It is the second of its kind in the country (the first being at Hassan ). Bhopal is one of the six cities chosen to have a All India Institute of Medical Sciences campus apart from Delhi. The land has been allotted by the government and construction work has been started for the same.
An Afghan soldier of the Orakzai tribe called Dost Mohammad Khan (not to be confused with the later Afghan King carrying the same name) laid out the present city at the same site following the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707. He brought with himself the Islamic influence on the culture and architecture of Bhopal, the ruins of which can be found at Islam Nagar. Bhopal, the second largest Muslim state in pre-independence India was ruled by four Begums from 1819 to 1926. Qudisa Begum was the first female ruler of Bhopal, who was succeeded by her only daughter Sikandar, who in turn was succeeded by her only daughter, Shahjehan. Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum was the last female ruler, and stepped down to her son. The succession of the ‘Begums’ gave the city such innovations as waterworks, railways and a postal system. Several monuments still stand in the city as reminders of this glorious period in its history. A municipality was constituted in 1907.
It was one of the last princely states to sign the 'Instrument of Accession' 1947. Though India achieved Independence in August 1947, the ruler of Bhopal acceded to the Indian government only on 1 May 1949. Sindhi refugees from Pakistan were accommodated in Bairagarh(Sant Hirdaram nagar), a western suburb of Bhopal. According to the States Reorganization Act of 1956, Bhopal state was integrated into the state of Madhya Pradesh, and Bhopal was declared as its capital. The population of the city rose rapidly henceforth.
Even after India’s independence from British clutches, Madhya Pradesh continued to be ruled by HH Nawab Hamidullah Khan who had been titled ‘Aala Hazrat’. He was such a pro-British polished diplomat who had his personal influence not only over the heads of the remaining states, but over the eminent national leaders of the independent India also. During all such odd & unfavourable circumstances, a group of nationalists young people of Bhopal took the hard task of not to allow the Bhopal State be another detached fragment of the country, like Pakistan. They chose the power of pen and print to communicate the truth before people of the state, to face the atrocities of the misadministration, and to fulfil their pledge. In this way, "Nai Raah" , a weekly Hindi journal (later followed by its Urdu version too) was started with the motive to raise the voice of people of Bhopal State, to move for merger. "Nai Raah" which very soon became the most popular journal of the state with status of the mouthpiece of people of Bhopal State, conveyed and propagated the smouldering fire in the hearts of downtrodden and suffering public of the state to each & every nook & corner in a such a way that the entire state ablazed to react actively in a non-violent and planned way against the misadministration so as to lead to the merger of the state in independent India. Ultimately Sardar Patel had to intervene on behalf of the union government to pressurise for the much awaited merger. As a result, the agreement of the merger of the Bhopal State in the union of the independent India was signed on 30th April 1949 to be effected from 1st June 1949
The Union Carbide India, Limited (UCIL) plant was established in 1969. 51% was owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and 49% by Indian authorities. It produced the pesticide carbaryl (trade mark Sevin). Methyl isocyanate (MIC), an intermediate in carbaryl manufacture, was used instead of less toxic but more expensive materials. In 1979, a plant for producing MIC was added. UCC was responsible for all technique and design. The plant was located close to a densely populated area, instead of on the other side of the town where UCIL was offered an area. MIC was stored in a few large tanks instead of several small tanks.
During the night of December 3rd 1984, large amounts of water entered tank 610. The resulting reaction generated a major increase in the temperature of liquid inside the tank to over 400°F (200°C). The MIC holding tank then gave off a large volume of toxic gas, forcing the emergency release of pressure. The reaction was sped up by the presence of iron from corroding non-stainless steel pipelines.
There have been several theories on the reason for the entry of water into the tank. The workers claim that[who?], because of the bad maintenance with leaking valves etc, it was possible for the water to climb from the point where the pipeline washing was performed to tank 610. UCC maintains that this was not possible, and that it was an act of sabotage by a "disgruntled worker" who introduced water directly into the tank. There is much confusion because the Indian government closed the plant to outsiders and would not allow interviews with the plant employees for almost a year. Much speculation arose in the meantime and much of it was not scientifically based, but based on worker accounts which may or may not have been accurate.
The deciding factors that caused the outcome were the state of the art plant design (location near a densely populated area, using hazardous chemicals instead of less dangerous, storing in large tanks, possible corroding material in pipelines etc), and the decision to close the plant which began a shut down which contributed to poor oversite by local managers (poor oversite of operators, safety systems not functioning etc), and in the aftermath, negligence on the part of the governments of India and Madhya Pradesh as well as UCC
Bhopal has an average elevation of 499 metres (1637 feet). 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 major hills in Bhopal comprise of Idgah hills and Shyamala hills in the northern region and Arera hills in the central region. Bhopal has a sub-tropical climate with hot summers from April to June, the wet monsoon season from July to September and a cool winter from November to February.
The municipality covers 286 square kilometres. It has two very beautiful lakes, collectively known as the Bhoj Wetland. These lakes are the Upper Lake (built by King Bhoj) and the Lower Lake. Locally these are known as the Bada Talab and Chota Talab respectively. The catchment area of the Upper Lake is 361 km² while that of the Lower Lake is 9.6 km². The Upper Lake drains into the Kolans River. The Van Vihar National Park is a national park situated beside the Upper Lake. The national park also has a museum in its premises. Kheoni Wild Life Sanctuary is situated 125 km from Bhopal.
Being a state capital, the New City has a majority of residents working for the State and Central Government Departments. There are two major office complexes on Arera Hills named Satpura and Vindhyachal, which house a number of State Government offices and projects. Adjacent to them is the State Secretariat, Vallabh Bhavan. In their vicinity are other State and Central Government offices which include major national banks and insurance companies. Bhopal's major commercial area is Maharana Pratap Nagar, which accommodates many business houses. There are a number of hardware as well as software vendors in this part of the city. Other businesses include daily newsletter offices and press, hotels and restaurants, coaching and tuition centers and entertainment.
Bhopal has a cantonment in the old city as well as military presence near Bairagarh and the airport. The cantonment houses one of the Services Selection board centers that recruits troops and officers for the armed forces.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprise in India, has a unit in Bhopal. It occupies a large area on the eastern side of the city and maintains a suburb named after it. A majority of the residents of the suburb are employed by the unit. Mandideep is an industrial suburb of Bhopal. It is located to the South of Bhopal on the Bhopal-Itarsi highway and houses a number of plants belonging to some of the reputed companies of India like Procter & Gamble, Fujitsu, Eicher, L&T, HEG and VA Tech Hydro A North Western suburb of Bhopal called Bairagarh, which was earlier a camp for Sindhi refugees from Pakistan, has developed into market for textiles.
Bhopal is also home to the Bhaskar Group which is a Rs. 2500 crore (Rs. 25 billion) business conglomerate with strong presence in newspapers, television, entertainment, printing, textiles, fast moving consumer goods, oils, solvents and internet services. 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.
The Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. is going to develop a Software & Hardware Technology Park in Bhopal. Multinational companies like Genpact, Fujitsu and Taurus Microsystems are expected to open their centers in the Technology Park.
Bhopal-based liquor company SOM Distilleries & Breweries Ltd (SDBL) has bagged the ambitious Thatipur (Gwalior) re-densification project for Rs 266 crore. SDBL-led consortium SOMPEL, in collaboration with Mumbai-based Patel Engineering Ltd, won the bid defeating 17 real estate heavyweights. "We are expecting to generate revenue of more than Rs 2,500 crore from the project, which we expect to complete one year ahead of schedule," Jagdish Arora, chairman and managing director of SDBL said. SDBL will develop a total area is 74.25 acres. "We will develop two big malls, one retail mall, one theme mall with two hotels — one star hotel and one budget hotel — with commercial space of 4 lakh sq ft. Also, we have to construct 1,000 residential units, high school and other government offices in an area of 23.88 acres," Arora said. The total floor area will be 56 lakh sq ft with 41 lakh sq ft for residential and 15 lakh sq ft for commercial purpose. The land will be available on lease for 99 years without payment of lease rentals. The State government had roped in India Infrastructure Initiative facility (III) of IDFC and Feedback Ventures as project advisor for selection of the developer for the project. III had successfully completed the bidding of ‘Central Business District' project in the prime business locality of New Market in Bhopal
The administration of Bhopal city is handled by Bhopal Municipal Corporation, also known as BMC. The total area under BMC is 285 km². The city is divided into 66 wards. Each ward elects a corporator. The winning party elects a council of members, who are responsible for various departments. The council members chose the Mayor among themselves. At present, there are ten members in the council. The Commissioner of Bhopal is the highest officer of Municipal Corporate Office, which is responsible for the departments of public works, revenue and tax, water supply, planning and development, fire brigade, health and sanitation, finance & accounts etc. The Commissioner of Bhopal currently is nikunj shrivastava.
Bhopal is one of the 7 cities which are going to have "Bus Rapid Transit System". This system is projected to become functional in 2009.
Apart from the long distance services, there are many services to nearby places withn the state. The bus services are operated from 3 Major bus stands in the city.
National Highway 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 Indore in the West. There are number of daily buses to Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Khajuraho, Sanchi, Pachmarhi and Vidisha and as well to Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Kota, Nagpur and Allahabad etc. An interstate bus terminus is coming up near the Habibganj station.There are also Metro Buses starting in the city.
Bhopal is a major railway station and junction. It is connected by rail to all parts of the country being on the main North-South line of the country. A list of all major trains passing through Bhopal can be found here. More then 150 daily trains are sttoped here. It is also close to the main East-West junction, Itarsi. Bhopal has other stations namely :-
Till 2011, Metros will also be started. Bhopal Express : Shaan - E - Bhopal, with its headquarter at Habibganj station, is also the first train in India to obtain an ISO 9001:2000 certificate.
Bhopal has a domestic airport with good amenities that connects directly it to Delhi, Mumbai, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Hyderabad and many major cities of India.
The Raja Bhoj International Airport is located near the satellite town Bairagarh
and will become an international airport by 2009. Flights will be operated to Sharjah and Middle east.
The chief languages are Hindi, Urdu and English, but there are a substantial number of Marathi speakers as well. In the princely state of Bhopal, Persian was the court language until nineteenth century. The common street Hindi spoken in Bhopal is termed as Bhopali and is the subject of comedy in Bollywood movies. An example of the language is used by actor Jagdeep in the film Sholay.
Shairis and poetry recitals are as popular in Bhopal as in movies. Bhopal is famous for its culture of parda, zarda, garda aur namarda. Parda is a curtain, which was used to veil the women of the house from outsiders, zarda is a kind of tobacco product which is quite famous with Bhopalis, garda is loose dirt that used to blow around specially during hot summer days, and namarda meaning a eunuch. Basically found in the old city areas of Itwara, Mangalwara, Budhwara etc., they roam around the city and collect chanda, or donation, for every big festival such as Diwali, Holi, Eid etc. At special occasions like marriage or a child birth, they visit the families and demand huge sums for donations. At this moment they showcase their talent, which is singing and dancing. They have also started to contest elections at local and state levels
Bhopal has an extensive culture of paan eating. Paan is a preparation with a betel leaf topped with variety of seasonings, the most common being chuna, kattha and supari. Bhopali people treat paan preparation as a science and an art, which is perfected among the streets of Bhopal, a tradition passed down generations. The paans in Bhopal are wide in variety and innovations
Diwali is celebrated with equal pomp and glory as Eid. People still visit each others houses and greet each other on various occasions. Gifts and sweets are exchanged and donations made to the poor. Diwali is celebrated by performing puja of the wealth goddess Lakshmi. Later in the night, firecrackers are burst in the open by young and old. 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 specialty of the day being sweet sewai. 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 Lord Ganesh and Goddess 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 Vijayadashmi, or Dusshehra, huge effigies of Ravan are burnt in different parts of the city. Some of them are organized by the local administration and stand as tall as 60 feet.
Bharat Bhavan is the main cultural centre of the city and of the most important cultural centers of India. It has an art gallery, an open-air amphitheatre facing the Upper Lake, two other theatres and a tribal museum. Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Humans) showcases the various hutments that tribals of across India use for shelter. Popular holiday spots near Bhopal include Bhojpur (famous for a Shiva temple and Jain shrines), Sanchi (notable for ancient Buddhist Stupas built by Ashoka), and the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (a World Heritage Site of archaeological interest). Those into archeology can venture about forty kilometers from Bhopal to Bhimbetka, which has one of the largest collections of pre-historic paintings and rocks, some of which date back more than 10,000 years. Thirty kilometers from the Bhopal is a Shiva temple in Bhojpur that holds great religious value and is famous for a massive Shivalingam. Anglers can head about 10 kilometers from the city to Hathaikheda, which is a popular fishing zone. Or, you can travel fifty kilometers to the city of Sanchi, a site famous for Buddhist monuments and temples dating back several centuries.
Places of Interest in Bhopal
Bhopal has many mosques including Taj-ul-Masajid (one of the largest mosques in Asia), Dhai Seedi ki Masjid (one of the smallest mosques in Asia), Jama Masjid (built by Qudsia Begum in 1837) and Moti Masjid (built by Sikander Begum in 1860). Some of the major historical buildings in Bhopal include Shaukat Mahal (a mixture of Indo-Islamic and European styles of architecture), Gohar Mahal (built by Qudsia Begum, fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture), Sadar Manzil (used by the Begums for public audience, now used as the head office of the Municipal Corporation) and Purana Kila (part of the 300-year-old fort of Queen Kamalapati, situated in the Kamala Nehru Park). Lakshmi Narayan Temple (or Birla Mandir), situated to the south of Lower Lake, is a temple devoted to Lord Vishnu and his consort Laxmi. An annual fare is held on Kartik Purnima at Manua Bhan Ki Tekri (Mahavir Giri), a Jain pilgrimage center located around seven kilometres away from Bhopal.
Places of Interest near Bhopal
The Udaygiri Caves, located near the town of Vidisha, are cut into the side at a sandstone hill, date back from A.D. 320 to 606. An inscription in one of these caves states that it was carved out during the reign of Chandragupta II (A.D. 382-401). A three-day Ijtima (religious congregation) used to be held in the precincts of the Taj-ul-Masjid annually. It draws scores at Muslim pilgrims from all parts of India. It has now been shifted outside the city limits. Every year in January/February, the villages of the Manav Sangrahalaya hosts the potters' workshops, folk music and dance, and open-air plays. It showcases the tribals of the region who demonstrate their skills in painting, weaving, and the fashioning of bell metal into works of art.
Entertainment & Night Life in BHOPAL
Bhopal is also known for its hockey lovers. The Aishbagh stadium is synonymous for hockey players. Many players reach different grounds for practice. The city has produced many national and international players for Indian hockey team. The more famous one being Aslam Sher Khan, who represented India in several international games and was a part of the World Cup winning team in 1975. He later joined politics and went on to become a Member of Parliament. He also served the national hockey by being a part of the national selection committee. His father, Ahmed Sher Khan, represented India at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 along with Major Dhyan Chand.
Another popular sport of Bhopalis is bodybuilding. In the old city, there are a number of gyms where youngsters workout everyday to make their body muscular. Slowly, this trend has caught up even in the new city where more modern equipments are being employed to help their members get into better shape. Body builders from the local gyms participate at national level and have tasted success at the state level. Apart from this, at school and college level, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, football and swimming are also popular sports. Every summer, Sports Authority of India holds camps which provide coaching to students of various ages games and sports of their choices.
Another famous son of Bhopal is (Late) J P Narayanan. A graduate Mechanical Engineer from Maulana Azad College of Technology, (MACT), Bhopal, Narayanan had to his credit broadcasting running commentaries in English for 100 One-Day Internationals and 44 Test matches in his career as a cricket commentator for All India Radio (AIR). The third One-Day International match between India and Pakistan played at Keenan Stadium, Jamshedpur in India on April 9, 2005 was his last assignment as a cricket commentator. An employee of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, the BHEL sports complex was renamed to JP Narayanan Sports Complex, BHEL in an effort to honor his contribution to cricket in Bhopal and nationally as well.
Bhopal is also coming up as a center of adventure sports. Trekking camps are being organised by Youth Hostels and other private clubs and their destinations are Budhni Ghat, Narsingarh, Ratapani Sanctuary, Delawadi, Bhimbetka, Manuabhan Ki Tekri etc. The government has also established India's first National Sailing Club at the Boat Club, in the Upper Lake. This club offers various water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, rafting, water skiing, para-sailing etc. Since its inception, it has hosted Canoeing and Kayaking Championships at national as well as international levels. Other adventure sports include parasailing, paragliding, hot air ballooning etc.
There are a number of colleges in Bhopal, including many for technical education (there are 60 engineering colleges in and around Bhopal), apart from Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, which is one of the eight earliest Regional Engineering College of India. The Regional Institute of Education (RIE), catering to Teacher Education, is situated on top of Shyamla Hill. This is a constituent unit of the National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) and is one of four such institutes in the country. Two University Institutes of Technology (previously know as Government Engineering College) are affiliated to Rajiv Gandhi Technical University: University of Technology of Madhya Pradesh - which provides degree courses in all the technical fields throughout the state of Madhya Pradesh - and Barkatullah University - which affiliates numerous technical and non-technical colleges in the city. Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University provides long distance courses to students in all types of fields. Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism runs various courses in the fields of journalism, mass communication, information technology and library sciences. National Law Institute University, which stands 3rd in ranking among Indian law schools, is also located here.
Bhopal also houses The National Judicial Academy near Bhabhada, the only of its kind in the country for the training and update of judges. The academy is run directly under the agies of The Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India. Indian Institute of Forest Management is a management institute located on the south western outskirts of the city that specializes in research and training in the forest and allied sectors. It is a CAT-allied, autonomous institute set up with the help of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Another specialist management institute in Bhopal is the Institute for Hotel Management.
Digdarshika Institute of rehabilitation and Research, Bhopal, is a Voluntary organization specialized in the disabilities and Mental Health sector. It also offers a diploma in special education (Mentally Challeneged).