Devika takes us to Islamnagar, on the outskirts of Bhopal. It is steeped in history. Today, Islamnagar is a relic rampart of what used to be the official headquarters of Dost Muhammad Khan (founder of Bhopal’s princely state). Prior to the siege, it was the abode of a Rajput chieftain. From Jagdishpur it was converted to present day Islamnagar. Here’s a report.
My genuine intention was to lose the soggy shoddy look and start to loosen out the stressed nerves; it was time to take a ride! So grabbing the first opportune moment on a beautiful Sunday, feeling reminiscent of how and what the older section of Bhopal was like, this trip to Islamnagar came by.
Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, is one that might boast of the old and new in a complete smooth amalgamation. It’s in the charm of the city. A glorious past to boast of; it is an admixture of the resplendent romantic and the progressive present. Bhopal’s rich history has many interesting twists n turns in its lanes and by-lanes. Stories date back to the rule of Kings and Queens, followed by Nawabs and their proud, graceful yet strong Begums. It’s a boon to the people of this laid back city. One doesn’t have to go far out to be in the lap of nature or historical ramparts – dotting its outskirts.
Islamnagar is one such destination. A stone’s throw away from the city, Islamnagar is a relic rampart of what used to be the official headquarters of Dost Muhammad Khan (founder of Bhopal’s princely state). Prior to the siege, it was the abode of a Rajput chieftain. From Jagdishpur it was converted to present day Islamnagar. Dost Mohammed Khan occupied and renamed it in the early 18th century. The road that goes from Karond crossroad took us past slushy green mango orchards and a cowshed, wistfully reminding us of our agrarian background.
Strewn across were the ruins from the glorious rules of great Nawabs. Who were not only just there to rule but had a grand aura about themselves. It was just after a sudden unexpected downpour, with he cumulous still hanging about, Islamnagar looked charmingly mysterious. As I drove towards the destination it was surprising to see the scattered ruins eautifully cropping up amidst swaying lush wheat fields.
Approaching the outer circle of its remains one could sense its grandeur and importance in the lives of our erstwhile rulers of Bhopal Princely State. Many a Begum and members of the royal family were born here. The tiny gallery, which exists here, still has a few portraits adorning its walls.
It’s a wonderful neat mix of the Rajput and the Malwa- Mughal architecture. Divided in two sections named Chaman Mahal and the Rani Mahal, this tiny palace is surrounded by gardens and fountains. The red sand stone carved floral motifs are as petite as the palace itself. As one strolls around the palace, it’s easy to imagine the languid pace of life. The princes and princesses, their resounding laughter, whispers of the escapades and the gorgeous seasons spent in luxurious leisure. Chaman Mahal has an ambience most languid with boulevards and hamam (Turkish-Bath) as a part of it.
As the evening light fell on the garden, I could almost sense the presence of what a sight it must have been to be romanced in these walkways! The shadows from the garden and the red sandstone lit up as the clouds played on the Mughal styled gardens. These images of our majestic past are so austere and at the same time so serene; it seemed almost surreal.
The way to Islamnagar is as interesting as the palace. The infamous Union Carbide factory stands aloof and crumbling. Surrounded by the populace, it stands almost indifferent, while the struggle still goes on. This destination is for the easy going heart with romance as its desire. Easy to access within 13 km from the city on the Bhopal-Berasia Road, Islamnagar does full justice to a day to chill.
By road: 13km from the main city of Bhopal and approximately 200 km from Indore. Islamnagar can easily fit in the itinerary of those passing by Bhopal (for it can be accessed through Ayodhya by pass as well) while going to Sanchi or Vidisha.
By flight: Well connected to Raja Bhoj International airport by all the states. Taxis and MP tourism buses are available for the tourists.
• Go with pots and pans if you are a hard core picnicker. For a little sum to the caretakers one can get the lawn cleaned and wind up before one leaves the spot.
• The cafeteria is just a name still to be revived by the M.P. Tourism.
• While going or coming back from Islamnagar one can check the Agricultural research institutes and get wonderful varieties of guavas.
• Those coming back to Bhopal, the road hits Hamidia road and it’s a must to stop over at Manohar Sweets for the most yummy sweetmeats and Chole Bhaturas.
Pix and Text by Author