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about Bhopal

Bhopāl is a city in central India. It is the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is also the name of a district in Madhya Pradesh with Bhopal city as its headquarters. Historically, Bhopal was also the name of a state of central India.

On December 3, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal leaked 40 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas, which killed more than 2,000 people outright and injured anywhere from 150,000 to 600,000 others, some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries.

Bhopal history

Bhopal was founded by the Parmara King Bhoj (1000–1055), who had his capital at Dhar. The city was originally known as Bhojpal after him. Bhoj is said to have constructed the Upper Lake of Bhopal.

The state of Bhopal was established in 1724 by the Afghan Sardar Dost Mohammed Khan, who was a commander in the Mughal army posted at Mangalgarh (which now lies to the north of modern Bhopal). Taking advantage of the disintegration of the Mughal empire, he usurped Mangalgarh and Berasia (now a tehsil of the Bhopal district). When Dost Mohammed. Khan's nephew assassinated the Gond Queen Kamalapati's husband, he punished his own nephew to death and restored the Queen's little kingdom back to her. The Queen gave him a princely sum of money and the Mouza village (which is situated near the modern Bhopal city).

After the death of last Gond queen, Dost Mohammed Khan took and seized the little Gond Kingdom and established his capital 10 km away from modern Bhopal, at Jagdishpur. He named his capital as Islamnagar (meaning the city of Islam). He built a small fort and some palaces at Islamnagar, the ruins of which can be seen today. After few years, he built a bigger fort situated on the northern bank of the Upper Lake. He named this new fort as Fatehgarh (the fort of victory). Later the capital was shifted to the current city of Bhopal.

Although Dost Mohammed Khan was the virtual ruler of Bhopal, he still acknowledged the suzerainty of the declining Mughal Empire. His successors however, acquired the title of 'Nawab' and declared Bhopal an independent state. By the 1730's the Marathas were expanding into the region, and Dost Mohammed Khan and his successors fought wars with their neighbours to protect the small territory and also fought among themselves for control of the state. The Hindu Marathas founded conquered several nearby states, including Indore to the west and Gwalior to the north, but Bhopal remained a Muslim-ruled state under Dost Mohammed Khan's successors. Subsequently, Nawab Wazir Mohammed Khan, a general, created a truly strong state after fighting several wars.

Nawab Jehangir Mohammed Khan established a cantonment at a distance of one mile from the fort. This was called Jehangirabad after him. He built gardens and barracks for British guests and soldiers in Jehangirabad.

In 1778, during the First Anglo-Maratha War, when the British General Thomas Goddard campaigned across India, Bhopal was one of the few states that remained friendly to the British. In 1809, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, General Close led a British expedition to Central India. The Nawab of Bhopal petitioned in vain to be received under British protection. In 1817, when the Third Anglo-Maratha War broke out, a treaty of dependence was signed between the British Government of India and the Nawab of Bhopal. Bhopal remained a friend of British Government during the British Raj in India.

In 1818, Bhopal became a princely state in British India. Bhopal state included the present-day Bhopal, Raisen, and Sehore districts, and was part of the Central India Agency. It straddled the Vindhya Range, with the northern portion lying on the Malwa plateau, and the southern portion lying in the valley of the Narmada River, which formed the state's southern boundary. Bhopal Agency was formed as an administrative section of central India, consisting the Bhopal state and some princely states to the northeast, including Khilchipur and Raigarh. It was administered by an agent to the British Governor-General of India.

The rule of the Begums

An interesting turn came in the history of Bhopal, when in 1819, 18 year old Qudsia Begum (also known as Gohar Begum) took over the reigns after the assassination of her husband. She was the first female ruler of Bhopal. Although she was illiterate, she was brave and refused to follow the purdah tradition. She declared that her 2 year old daughter Sikander will follow her as the ruler. None of the male family members dared to challenge her decision. She cared very well for her subjects and took her dinners only after receiving the news every night that all her subjects had taken meals. She built the Jama Masjid of Bhopal. She also built her beautiful palace - 'Gohar Mahal'. She ruled till 1837.

In 1844, Sikander Begum succeeded her mother as the ruler of Bhopal. Her name means 'Alexander the Great' in Arabic. She was indeed, as brave her Greek namesake. She too never observed purdah. She was trained in all the martial arts and she fought many battles. During the First War of Independence of 1857, she sided with the British and crushed all those who revolted against them. She did a lot of public welfare too - she built roads and reconstructed the fort. She also built the Moti Masjid (meaning the Pearl Mosque) and Moti Mahal (the Pearl Palace).

Her successor, Shah Jahan Begum was quite passionate about architecture like her Mughal namesake emperor Shah Jahan. She built a vast mini-city (called Shahjahanabad after her). She also built a new palace for herself - Taj Mahal (not to be confused with the famous Taj Mahal at Agra). She built a lot of other beautiful buildings as well - Ali Manzil, Amir Ganj, Barah Mahal, Ali Manzil, Be nazir Complex, Khawasoura, Mughalpura, Nematpua and Nawab Manzils. Today also, one can rains led to a sever famine in Bhopal.

Sultan Jahan Begum, daughter of Shah Jahan Begum, succeeded her in 1901. She further advanced the emancipation of women and established a modern municipal system. She had her own palace Sardar Manzil (the present headquarters of Bhopal Municipal Corporation). But she preferred the quiet and serence enviornment at the outskirts of the city. She developed her own walled mini-city, named Ahmedabad after her late husband (not to be confused with Ahmedabad, Gujarat). This city was situated at Tekri Maulvee Zai-ud-din, which was at located a distance of a mile from the fort. She built a palace called Qaser-e-Sultani(now Saifia College). This area became a posh residency as royalty and elite moved here. The Begum installed the first water pump here and developed a garden called 'Zie-up-Abser'. She also constructed a new palace called 'Noor-us-Sabah', which has been converted into a heritage hotel.

The peaceful rule of Begums led to the rise of a unique mixed culture in Bhopal. The Hindus were given important administrative positions in the state. This led to communal peace and a cosmopolitan culture took its roots. Even the Pathans, famous for their roughness and soldier-like nature, acquired a taste of culture and indulged in poetry, arts and literature.

After independence of India

After India achieved Independence in 1947, The ruler of Bhopal acceded to the Indian government, and Bhopal became an Indian state. Sindhi refugees from Pakistan were accommodated in Bairagarh, a western suburb of Bhopal.

According to the Act of Reorganization of States in 1956, Bhopal was integrated into the state of Madhya Pradesh, and Bhopal was declared as its capital. The population of the city rose rapidly.

In December 1984 a cloud of methyl isocyanate was released while cleaning a storage tank. The cloud covered half of the city and killed many people.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bhopal".

This city is also known as: Bhopal.

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