Sarah rests to recover from her migraine, while Jake and I set out for a tour of Bhopal. We visit what is reputed to be the larges mosque in India. Bhopal still has a large Muslim population. We are welcomed in the mosque courtyard with none of the hostility we had recently experienced in Morocco. Interestingly, outside the mosque there was a large area of tents where people were registering for the Hajj pilgrimage.
The mosque, mostly built in the 19th century is certainly impressively large, but otherwise fairly plain, with little of particular interest to the tourist.
After a tour of dull government buildings, we head for the Birla temple. A large modern temple, immaculately decorated in the run up to Diwali, it proved an interesting contrast to some of the older temples we have visited. Idols of Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi and Durga all vie for attention in the immaculately clean and polished interior. We try to put money in a collection box, but one of the priest strikes faster than a cobra and takes the money to make an offering. We are told afterwards that if the money is given to the priest, he can keep it, which is why he moved so fast!
Our final visit is the museum of life, dedicated to India’s tribal people. The museum itself is modern and well laid out with examples of houses and crafts from all over India. The grounds contain numerous replica tribal villages, but many are overgrown and not well maintained.
We lunch at Wind and Waves, an MP Tourism restaurant attractively located overlooking the Upper Lake.
After lunch I take an unintended extensive tour of Bhopal in an auto, in order to try to find a pharmacy which is open, to get some cheap anti-malarials. Our car drivers have been relatively conservative in their driving, but the auto driver drove in a typically exhilarating Indian manner. We arrive at one set of traffic lights on red, where most of the cars had actually stopped. He had no time for such legal niceties and jumped the lights and at the same time crossed over into the dense oncoming traffic, with horns blaring everywhere. I remember one of the rules of the India road: Green means go; Amber means go; and Red means go.
The evening saw us having another delicious, rich and expensive meal at the hotel.