From 11th century philosopher king Raja Bhoj to the Nawabs and
Begums of the 19th century to waiter Nandkishore Kushwaha of this
century, one thing has not changed in Bhopal down the ages --
people's love for penning down their thoughts.
After the royal era, not only professional writers but even
administrators, professors, doctors, officers of state services
and journalists have penned their memoirs or done creative writing
in the city.
Bhopal has given more than 100 Urdu and Hindi writers.
Kaif Bhopali, Bashir Bader, Chandrabhaan Khayal, Ishrat Qadri,
Takhallus Bhopali, professor Ramesh Chandra Shah, writer Manzoor
Ahtesham, journalist Rajesh Joshi and Sharad Joshi's works were
recognised by the governments and they had been conferred with
It is believed that Raja Bhoj had written 84 books. Some of his
manuscripts are still helping writers here. Manoj Shrivastava, the
commissioner of Bhopal division, has a copy of the king's work "Samrangan
So what lies in the city of Bhopal that attracts people to
"The literary tradition here helps a lot. Then you have Bharat
Bhavan where all kinds of cultural and literary activities are
performed," said Shrivastava.
"Our profession too gives us a wider canvas as we do meet all
kinds of people while working. So with all these, writing becomes
quite spontaneous," he added.
The Bhopal commissioner has interpreted Ramayana's "Sundar Kand"
chapter and five volumes out of 15 have already come out.
Of the Nawabs who ruled in Bhopal, Siddique Hasan wrote at least
five books and his "Interpreter Of Wahabism" is being taught at
Kahira University in Egypt. His son, Nawab Ali Hasan, had prepared
Farsi and Urdu dictionaries.
In fact, the lady Nawabs of Bhopal were ahead of their male
counterparts as far as writing was concerned.
Qudsia Begum, Sikander Jahan Begum, Shahjahan Begum and Sultan
Jahan Begum -- all had written accounts of their lives. Sultan
Jahan Begum, who had performed Haj, wrote "A Story Of A Pilgrimage
To Hijaz" after her visit to Mecca.
"The nawabs and begums gave great importance to their works and
had documented most of them. When Bhopal was going to merge in the
Republic of India, Nawab Hamidullah Khan told the Indian
government that it would have to preserve their documents," Sayeed
Ali Hasan Mujibi, the great grandson of Nawab Siddique Hassan,
"The government had agreed and a centre of National Archives was
opened in Bhopal," he added.
Soon after independence, renowned writer Khushwant Singh wrote his
first book, "Train to Pakistan", from Bhopal.
After the Union Carbide gas tragedy in 1984, several journalists
wrote books on the incident and the lives of survivors of the
worst industrial disaster ever.
The contribution of the bureaucratic fraternity remained
significant as many officials, including Ashok Vajpai, Sudeep
Banerjee, Ashok Shah, M.N. Buch, Jabbar Dakwala, Manoj Shrivastava
and Pankaj Rag wrote books when posted in Bhopal.
Kushwaha, hailing from Narsinghpur's Manakwar village, is the son
of a farmer and works at the canteen of Bharat Bhavan. The young
writer, who already has a book, "Aakhri Panchayat", to his credit,
recently came out with "Gramin Vikash Ki Nayi Sambhavna". He
mostly writes about rural issues.
A physician, doctor Gyan Chaturvedi, has also made his mark as a
Gandhian thinker Dhurav Shukul who wrote 11 books gives credit to
the cultural movement that had begun with the establishment of
Bharat Bhavan and Kala Parishad in Bhopal.
"The city did not get developed like the metros. There is not much
traffic here as compared to Delhi or other metros. There is no
club or party culture in Bhopal. Instead cultural programmes are
frequently organised. All these help in book writing," said
Rasheed Kidwai, the author of "24 Akbar Road" and "Sonia - A
Said Shiv Kumar Sharma who started writing after completion of
engineering: "The peace and green nature of the city increases my
creativity. People are friendly too, they meet you with ease,
there is no rush for anything. So a struggling writer like me
finds it good to work from this city."
And being Bhopali also helps, said Sikander Mallick, a promising
writer. "For my book 'Bastani', I had once met late Mansoor Ali
Khan Pataudi. And he had recommended me to a publisher. It is not
possible with people of other places."
(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at email@example.com)