When we think of holidays in India, we think of the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur in Rajasthan, the beaches of Goa, and the bustling cities of Mumbai and Delhi. Having just come back from India, I have to say that Bhopal must be added to the list.
Admittedly, when I first learnt I’d go there, I imagined a chemical wasteland, thanks to the world’s worst industrial disaster in 1984 by Union Carbide, when thousands were killed. But, boy was I surprised.
At the centre of Bhopal lies a huge lake, which has a jet of water shooting out of it, just like Geneva. Indeed, Bhopal is known as the “City of Lakes” thanks to their number, which gives it a unique natural beauty.
Then there is the number of heritage properties that have been converted to hotels. These are the palaces of the former aristocracy that are now available to peasants like me. I stayed at one called the Jehan Numa Palace, which was stunning. It wasn’t garish in any way (no giant elephant statues), had great service, awesome food and a great pool. What made it even better was the cost, which is a fraction of what you pay in the more popular tourist cities in India for a similar quality.
Nearby was the Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum which now has to be one of the my favourite museums in the world (yes, the world!). It had artist impressions of tribal living across India. The installations were interactive – well, in the sense that my kids could run in and out of them, so they were begging to stay for longer.
Oh, and I should add that both Delhi and Bhopal airports are surprisingly slick. Though, if you really want a true Indian experience take the overnight train from Delhi to Bhopal!