Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, is much more than the gas leak of 1984. Spread between the Vindhya and Singarcholi mountains lies the city of lakes – Bhopal. Though Bhopal is a city with wide roads and green spaces, a flavor of urbanity and modernism stands stiff against its planar terrain to complement the traditional architecture. One does not know much about the cave paintings and rock shelters that now lay in ruins but form the architectural heritage of Bhopal.
Bhopal is home to an architectural marvel called the baoli or stepwell. Besides having a two-storied space above water level, this architecture highlights in red sandstone. Additionally, the architectural heritage of Bhopal blooms as it witnesses water features, all derived from the stepwell. Furthermore, the ever roaring fountains, cascades, water sheets, and rough streams add up to the landscape architecture of Bhopal.
Until 1901 CE, before the colonial architecture influenced Bhopal, it conserved its arches, massive gateways, screen windows, moldings, plaster works, and squat jharokha windows. Gradually after 1901, the city became home to colonialism. In addition to the Imperial bank and Edward museum, many structures like the Revenue court, Justice court, Minto hall, and Civil club came into the picture. Apart from these structures, let us look at the top 10 places to explore at Bhopal for an architect.
- Architect: Charles Correa
- Year: 1982.
Under a futuristic program to build a cultural hub giving justice to the state capital’s architectural heritage by the government of India, Bharat Bhawan stands strong as one of the few examples. The building stands on a sloppy terrain with its minute terraces and courtyards that break the massing. Famous for case studies among architectural students, this architectural heritage of Bhopal includes art galleries, tribal art museums, auditoriums, poetry libraries, artist’s studios, and commercial zones. Additionally, an amphitheater located against the natural backdrop of a lake sits at the bottom of the site. Bharat Bhawan teaches pathway orientation, grid layouts, services, courts, and a drama of masses.
Architectural heritage of Bhopal – Shahjahanabad of Bhopal
- Built: Early 19th CE
- Style: Indo Saracenic architecture
Built by Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, the architectural heritage of Bhopal takes a historical turn at Shahjahanabad. The site includes monuments, including the Gol Ghar, a museum, and the Taj Ul Masjid, the largest mosque in India. The Indo Saracenic wonder of the Bab-e-Ali cricket stadium, a home ground for cricket, lies on this site. Furthermore, the Motia Talab, the Benazir palace, the summer capital of the Bhopal estate, the Taj Ul Masjid library, and the Alexandria middle school lie along the lane. In addition to red sandstone architecture, the site features impromptu detailing of white marble domes and minarets for an architect to study.
- Built: 1820
- Style: Indo-Mughal architecture
Gohar Mahal is an architect’s paradise for learning about the blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Besides justifying communal harmony, this stunning piece of the architectural heritage of Bhopal portrays elaborate archways. Designs, patterns, decorations, and religious motifs overflow from the Mahal. In addition to load-bearing walls, Gohar Mahal features a wooden truss with slate roofs. Additionally, courtyards, sprinklers, natural ventilation, and solar orientation boost the architecture.
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- Built: 1830
- Style: Indo Saracenic and Rococo architecture
Amongst all structures comprising the architectural heritage of Bhopal, Shaukat Mahal stands different from the rest. The building, washed with a fine blend of renaissance and Gothic styles, explores a pattern of Indo- French architecture. Besides floral motifs, jalis and ornate fan lights adorn the facade.
Architectural heritage of Bhopal: The Moti Masjid
- Built: 1860
- Style: Islamic architecture.
Besides a white marble facade and two cupolas, dark red towers with golden spikes highlight the Moti Masjid. The three decorated gates, verandahs, canopies, and flooring, everything is adorned in sandstone. Two ablution tanks with marble fountains overlook a centrally located but raised prayer hall.
The Taj Mahal of Bhopal
- Built: 1868 – 1871
- Style: Various.
Unlike its famous counterpart of Delhi, the Taj Mahal of Bhopal takes inspiration from Hindu, Arabic, British, Mughal, and French architecture. The blending of these forms to create about 120 rooms, besides a Sheesh Mahal, and fountains to shape the architectural heritage of Bhopal is what every architect should learn. Besides cold winds and an interior masterpiece, rich and well-oriented patterns pop out from the ceiling.
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Architectural heritage of Bhopal: Jama Masjid, Bhopal
- Built: 1832 – 1857
- Style: Islamic architecture
The Charbagh style of planning with pilasters and floating columns personify Islamic architecture in Bhopal. Besides the bridges at the northern and eastern gates, five-storied octagonal minarets peep out to overview the architectural heritage of Bhopal. Columns divide the site in half, while around 32 balconies segregate the stories with a dome at the top.
Vidhan Sabha of Bhopal
- Architect: Charles Correa.
- Style: Modernism
Covering an expanse of 32,000 sq.m, Vidhan Sabha is a must-visit for architects looking for contemporary circulation case studies. The general geometry consists of spaces divided into nine compartments that revolve around a center. Consequently, perpendicular axes emerge from the focal path and define the administrative zone. Interestingly, the Vidhan Parishad and the Vidhan Sabha remain secluded from this place.
Dilip Build on Center
- Completed: 2012
- Architect: Kushwah and Kushwah architects
The building moves in sync with the rough terrain of Bhopal and spans over four stories with conference and meeting rooms, work stations, etc. Besides a double glass unit, interlocking zinc strips and jalis interweave a fabric of fluidity. Formal and informal spaces flow to create a user-friendly environment. Thus, this building is a must-visit for architecture students keen on designing office buildings.
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- Established: 1982
- Architect: Anant Raje.
IIFM covers an expanse of about 650,000 sq. m and relies on the concept of continuity. Though inspired by the town of Mandu, the architect allowed vegetation to grow as it wanted, creating stone walls with hues of greens and yellows. However, the plan revolves around a central court surrounded by libraries, an auditorium, and a seminar room. Furthermore, recessed openings personify dominance, and the sense of scale and proportion is what architects should study from the Indian Institute of Forest Management.