Had to take a flight from Raipur to Bhopal some weeks back. It was seriously a tiny plane, powered by rubber bands, hope, faith and charity but the advantage of flying a small plane is that you dont really fly that high compared to the other bigger planes, so took the opportunity to fire up some pictures.
And flying over the Narbada river. The level of water was quite surprising, very low but that seems to be a feature all over India, low water levels across the board in so many rivers. Still, for those who might not know, this river is perhaps one of the best in India for fly fishing.
Then had an interesting encounter with some clouds, dipping in and out of it. The clouds look just brilliant from the top. Quite jealous of Superman, he can just have fun out here, eh? And then we started our descent to Bhopal, we were below the cloud cover and the setting sun’s rays were showing through the clouds.
Bhopal is called as the city of lakes. You can see 3 of them here on the left shining in the distance like pools of mercury. On the right, that is New Bhopal. This part is a planned city, mostly built after the city was declared as the State Capital, so you can see the houses laid out in some shape and form.
The building on the right of the centre is the Secretariat, an older building where the bureaucrats and ministers had their offices. As usual, they grew out of space. The two Lego like buildings in the left of centre are two of the state government’s buildings were constructed later, named after the two mountain ranges in the state, Satpuda and Vindhyachal. My father used to work in the latter building. Bloody big huge buildings, clad in the local sandstone. One of the mason’s who worked on that also worked on our house. Its a very nice warm colour. But I am digressing.
The circular building on the bottom right hand side is the old central jail. If you see the road which runs diagonally down the bottom left, that’s called as the jail road which climbs up the side of a hill. When I was a baby in swaddling clothes, my parents were on a scooter and were involved in an accident and both Mum and I went tumble down the hill. She was scared even to unwrap me, but when she reached the hospital (she was quite badly injured), she unwrapped me and found that I was busy sleeping and snoring through the entire episode. Typical, eh? Anyway, since that time, that road has been a bit of a spooky one for me.
The demented cake like building in the middle of the left photograph is the new Parliament Building while you can barely make out the stadium in the distance in the right hand side photograph.
On the left photo, you can see the grounds of an old alma mater of mine, MVM, its grounds and buildings and the vaguely oval shaped old parliament building. Then you have the beginnings of the lower lake. Its foul, the green colour is algae. And the right hand side photograph, you can see a girls college, MLB. I once swam across the lake on a 10 rupees bet to get to the girls college and then get back to my side. Was stinking to high heaven afterwards.
Now you see the chicken neck end of the lower lake which leads into the upper lake, both separated by a narrow strip of land. The narrow strip of land has a small park on top, and that’s why its so nice and green. Dad used to tell me stories about it all. About how that strip of land is actually a palace and one drives on the top of the palace. There are 7 stories above water and 4 or 5 stories underwater. How its stuffed full of secret rooms filled with treasure. How on particular nights, one can see a silver hand in the water waving. Complete rot, but it was very exciting to remember the stories while peeking over the parapet in the park and looking down at the mysterious green still deep waters of the lower lake. On the other side, you see the bottom end of the upper lake or the bigger lake.
The water level was shockingly low. The region has had very low rainfall for the past 3-4 years and the reservoirs are very low. Usually the lake is brimming with water and sloshing around. But all this open space at the edges of the lake was absolutely gobsmacking. And the Government is now asking Bhopali citizens to come with their spades and buckets, give the gift of labour and dig the lake deeper. D’oh, if you dont have water, where on earth are you going to get it from? Just digging a bigger hole doesnt mean greater water will drop from the skies. Bringing in water from the Narbada or Kolar Dam is not really a solution. There is no supply of water for days on end. Makes for some difficult living conditions.
All the dark splotches on the right hand side photograph used to be underwater. The lake has really shrunk dramatically. Shocking, I tell you.
Coming in over the airport perimeter fence on the left and just a few feet above ground, just about to hit the tarmac.
And here’s me back on terra firma, welcome to Bhopal. Only a few photographs have been shown here, for the full slideshow, please click here.