In the 19th century, the capital of Madya Pradesh, Bhopal, was ruled by a succession of forward-looking Muslim Begums, or ‘Queens’. Their reign saw the appearance of some remarkable Islamic buildings, the pièce de résistance among them being the massive Taj-ul Masjid, said to be the largest mosque in India. Other less conspicuous, but equally beautiful buildings form an exotic skyline in the old city. See the highlights on a memorable heritage walking tour, which concludes with a visit to the lavish Shaukat Mahal, a fabulously over-the-top pile fusing Indo-Islamic, Gothic and French Bourbon styles.

Bhopal, is infamous for the appalling industrial disaster of 1984 when an American-built pesticide plant leaked poisonous gas into the city, causing death and injury on an unprecedented scale. But don’t let the shadow cast by the tragedy deter you from visiting this fascinating capital, whose antique core holds a wonderfully traditional bazaar.

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