Some unexpected travels are absolutely enlivening. The MP Tourism Travel Mart is scheduled next week in Bhopal and I have been gearing up for it for last few weeks. Tickets are in, itinerary is intact and I am all set. However, just before the FAM trip, an interesting opportunity came my way and I got to travel to the city last week. I could not have asked for more. A quickly planned trip with an overnight travel brought me to the beautiful city on a Saturday morning. The clean station and cool breeze at Habibganj was a welcome sight. It had rained the previous night so small puddles of water, washed roads and droplets of water on the tall trees added to the sparkle in this city of the lakes. Located north of Vindhya mountain range on the Malwa plateau, the city has been earmarked to be developed as a ‘Smart City’. There are seventeen lakes of all hues in Bhopal some huge like Bhojtal( Upper lake) which spreads to an area over 31 square kilometers.
It is perhaps one of the very few cities that have a densely afforested area within the city limits where one can breathe pristine clear air, play hide and seek with the sun while driving through the lovely winding roads. A drive from Shahpura Lake towards Kerwa dam for almost 15 km is a paradise for nature lovers and eco- friendly tours. One can sight some rare species of birds, go for adventure sports like mud safari in jeeps, witness the cascading waterfalls at Kaliasot,and even occasionally sight a tiger (though rarely). A cup of hot spicy ginger tea in small stalls located in dense bamboo foliage is refreshing.
An evening at the Manohar Dairy located on Hamidia Road is a must to enjoy the lip smacking flavors of wide range of local cuisines to fusion foods. The place is lively and crowded. Getting a place to sit on a weekend evening could be a challenge.
The return journey to Delhi was scheduled for the next day, so a visit to the lakes, fleeting glimpse of Taj Ul Masjid, Moti Mahal , Birla Temple and a long drive to Bhimbetka to visit the UN Heritage site was what I could manage. In a race against time to assimilate the beauty and grandeur of Bhopal, the choice of visiting Bhimbetka was indeed a wise one. The place is located 42 km away from the city and is an archaeological site of rock shelters and paintings dating back to 30000 years. It got its name from the legendary hero Bhim of Mahabharata era. It is said that the place was the resting place of Bhim. The entire area is covered with dense forests and bears a lot of similarity to other rock art and shelter sites of Kakadu National Park and cave paintings found in Bushmen Caves in Kalahari Desert in Australia. The rock paintings have withstood the ravages of nature and men as these were painted on the inner most parts of the rocks where water and other elements of nature could not penetrate.
The trip has sparked off of a ‘love story with MP’ and I am longing to explore the other hidden treasures there in the coming week.
Guest Post by Rahul Bhatia
PS: Pendown is invited to travel to Varanasi for Uttar Pradesh Travel Writers Conclave as well as Bhopal and more places with MP Travel Mart in the coming week. Keep following our updates here