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BHOPAL.....

----a walk down the memory lane

By: Dr. S. Zaheer-ul-Islam

Prof. of Plastic Surgery (Retd.)

Descending on this city of lakes & hills from everynook and corner of MP many a new visitors are simply lost in the beauty and glory of this lovely city.

As one mounts the top of the Medical College building to have a look round the sprawling gift of nature and civilization the ramparts of the Fatehgarh fort start translating the echo of canons that once boomed on its walls as if it is a spectro of light and sound. The history that every stone of the fort tells puts one into a vertigo which ends to the centre of history dating pack as early as 1696. It was than that an Afghan warrior of the Mughal forces came to settle around Bhopal in a village now called Berasia.

Internal strifes between rani Kamalapati of Ginnore and Gond chief resulted in the assasination of the Gond Raja Nizam Shah. Rani Kamalapati asked Dost Mohd. Khan for help and thus defeated the gond chief. In reward Rani Kamalapati gave an area originally founded by Raja Bhoj to Dost Mohd. Khan. This was the "Bhoj Pal" of yester years to which you have converged today chanting "Challo Bhopal Chalen".

Bhojpal initially as founded by Raja Bhoj (year 1018-1060) was a small village with an area of 250 sq. miles inhabited around the lake. Having taken this as the spoils of war and parity as an award from Rani Kamalapati, Dost Mohd. Khan settled down as a ruler totally in command following death of the Rani. The stronghold of this so-called kingdom was the Fategarh fort within the remnants of which the Medical College stands today. The white domed Mosque which is situated just beyond the college auditorium houses the tomb of Sardar Dost Mohd. Khan, the founder of Afghan Dynasty in Bhopal.This was how in 1722 a Muslim state in central India came into being. Sir William Bartes writes in his book. "The Princes of India," "a new mohammedan state Bhopal. had been carved out of Rajput territory in south Malwa towards the 18th century by an Imperial Officer, an Afghan".

To wazeer Chote Khan goes the credit of harnessing small rivulet called Ban-Ganga by constructing a 400 yard dam which is now popularly known as Chota Talab. When I take you -round physically you will realize the beauty which this lake has added to the back-drop of the surrounding Hillocks. Around this time Bhopal state was under continuous pressure of attack by the surround-9g states and the lady rulers of Bhopal were finding hard to maintain the integrity of their kingdom. It was in the year 1817-1818 that the local rulers sought alliance with East India Company and thus a pact was signed with the Britishers. Under the provisions of the pact Sehore bacome the 1st Cantonment on 26th February 1818 headed by a political agent. This laid to rest a long period of administrative disturbance in the state.

 Qudsia Begum's regime which followed, is known to be a decorative regime both architecturally and culturally. The Jama Masjid and Mot Masjid of Bhopal date back to that era. Hindus and Muslims were given equal right and positions under her rule.

Year 1868 saw Shah Jehan Begum in stride and during her time the first municipal corporation took shape, the first ladies club was established, hospitals started to function and building like Noor-Mahal, Taj-Mahal and even a mohalla by her name Shahjahanabad took shape. To her goes the credit of building the imposing mosque known by the name of Tajul-Masjid. A writer has named Bhopal of that era as Baghdad of India. It was in her time the first news-paper of the state come out and Bhopal come on the literary map of the country.

 Nawab Sultan Jehan carried out the good work and was awarded the title of G.C.S.I. by the British Govt. Sultania Zanana Hospital is a hallmark of her era.

In 1908 Lord and Lady Minto Visted Bhopal and their names remained attached to the past Vidhan Sabha building called Minto Hall.

On 19th June, 1926 Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum handed over the reins of the rule to her son Nawab Hameedullah Khan who had the singular honour of being the first graduate ruler of India.

September 1939 saw the beginning of ll World War and the big fort gate which is now forming a part of Hamidia Hospital stores carries a stone inscription about how many went to the war from Bhopal state and how many never returned. One can see it even today.

 Education heaved a sigh of relief in 1945 when Hamidia College come into being.

By then the writing on the wall was evident and Nawab Hameedullah Khan sensing the danger amalgameted the state through the good office of Sardar Patel of 1st June, 1949 and Bhopal came under the administrative rule of a Chief Commissioner as a part-C state. Thus the rule of the Royal become the rule by the Loyal.

Happening of the later must not be quite new for many of us and the transformation from a part-C state to a full-fledged state now the second biggest in the country seems not of yester-years but of yesterdays.

Various Chief Minister had their own likes and dislikes. Capital remained bisected for sometime between lndore and Gwalior and ultimately settled to Bhopal, a city where it has rightly come to stay like your mental vetigo which is begining to compose itself, thanks to the cool breeze from the lakes around and the sight of green hills younder.

When we go around in the evening we will certainly pass Rani Kamalapati's palace and you can Imagine her enjoying the sun-set in the lake down younder. You will pass the imposing building now like mushrooms on Shamla Hills, the confluence of new and old city that is where Ravindra Bhavan is, the imposing Vidhan Sabha, Vallabh Bhavan buildings. the Raj Bhavan, the ever imposing Birla Mandir highlighting the sky line on top of the Arera hill, the bustling new market and the ever expanding colonies beyond like a streptococcal chain.

History will never forgive me if I do not take you around at least on paper to Ahamdaba d Palace which was once the emerald in the necklace of the city where runs echo the royal grandeur that was once confined to the bedocked palaces, to the ldgah Hills where the old and new can be seen shoulder to shoulder, the Darber Hall popularly called Sadar Manzil wich housed Nagar Nigam offices at present and last but not the least the busy market of Chowk, its lanes and bylanes bubbling with shopping materials starting from vintage to advantage and through Intricate lanes ultimately ending your journey through this long as I call the memory lane.