Vadodara or Baroda is a cosmopolitan city located in Gujarat. Home to some of the most exemplary displays of architecture, Vadodara is a fitting memorial to Maratha leader Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III who had envisioned a dream to make this Big City an educational, industrial and commercial centre.
Known for one of the most lavish palaces in India- the Lakshmi Vilas Palace and plenty more legendary monuments, Vadodara is the cultural capital of Gujarat. With a prominent part of it being occupied by the Gujaratis, this place is the most sought after during the nine days of the Navratri festival. No city in India celebrates the festival of Navratri with as much zeal and exuberance as Vadodara does. It houses one of the premier universities of India- the Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Places to Visit
Laxmi Vilas Palace
Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the most majestic structures in India and was the private residence of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. Known to be the largest private dwelling of the size equivalent to four times of the Buckingham Palace, this magnificent palace is a must-visit when in Vadodara.
The striking Laxmi Vilas Palace was constructed in 1890 and took nearly twelve years to complete. Sprawling across an area of about 700 acres, it is still home to the royal family of Vadodara, the Gaekwads. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style which is a hybrid of the Hindu, Gothic and Mughal architectural forms with the presence of domes, minarets and arches.
The Laxmi Vilas Palace incorporates several other buildings within its complex including the LVP Banquets and Conventions, Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building. The museum building was mainly constructed as a school for the Maharaja’s children. Today, it houses an extraordinary collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Verma and various other artefacts gathered from all around the world. An excellent audio tour with free drink and snack are included in the ticket price.
Sayaji Baug or Sayaji Gardens, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III himself. It is the most extensive garden in the western region of India with a sprawling 45 hectares of land. This was built in the year 1879 on the river Vishwamitri, and it comprises of a broad spectrum of flora, with more than 99 species of trees to its name. That’s not all; this park also houses two museums, a planetarium, a zoo, a toy train for children and a flower clock. So many utilities under one roof, make this attraction the most sought after in the state of Gujarat.
Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Being included in the elite list of the World Heritage Sites across the globe, this marvelous archaeological park set in the heart of the city of Champaner and amidst the Pavagadh hills is one of the most sought after places in Gujarat.
Why wouldn’t it be’ It is withholds a lot of historical as well as mythological significance in itself. The Park comprises of umpteen number of splendid architectural wonders consisting of both Hindu & Islamic styles of design. Not only this, an interesting piece of trivia regarding this place is that the hill of Pavagadh is believed to be a chunk of the Himalayas that was originally carried by Hanuman to Lanka in the Ramayana epic. With such rich history to its name, this makes up for a really intriguing place to visit.
Ajwa Nimeta Garden
Decked with green manicured lawns and adorned by towering palm trees, the Ajwa Nimeta Garden is the perfect destination to plan your leisurely weekend at. The crowd-puller here is the 100-meter row of perfectly aligned musical fountains that mesmerise us with coordinated water shoots in the background of lively colours. This garden is enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
Baps Sri Swaminarayan Temple
Adorned with immaculate architecture, flawless design and awe-striking grandeur, the BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir is like the palace of the lord. The tranquil vibe of the temple instils a revitalising and deeply energising calm within you. Right outside the temple is a small and clean eatery that sells mouth-watering Indian delicacies prepared without the use of any onion or garlic.
Nehru Science Center
At less than a dollar for entry, the Nehru Science Center keeps kids entertained with science shows and exhibitions such as Spark Theater, a static electricity demonstration. A sky observation program offers a look at the night sky of Mumbai on Saturday and Sunday evenings, weather permitting. Some exhibitions cost extra.
Vadodara Museum & Picture Gallery
Constructed by the Gaekwads in 1894, the Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery is host to umpteen numbers of relics relating to a wide spectrum of fields right from archeology to geology.
It also houses a few rare personal collection pieces of Maharaja Sayajirao III. Most noteworthy relics are the 109 miniature paintings of the Mughal times, a Persian version of Mahabharata specially commissioned by Mughal Emperor Akbar, 11th century Shiva Natraj amongst others.
Statue of Unity
Statue of Unity is a memorial to The Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The statue has been erected to propagate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s vision of India and to inspire the Citizens of India through his patriotism and freedom struggle. The Bronze statue of the founding father of the Republic of India stands 182 metres tall grabbing the attention of the whole world as the ‘Tallest statue in the World’. The statue of Unity is Located 100km from Baroda, by the banks of River Narmada on the River Island of Sadhu Bet overlooking the Narmada Dam (Sardar Sarovar Dam) from 3.2 km away.
Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III was so powerful and affluent that he had an entire monument built to commemorate the cremation of his family members. This monument was called the Kirti Mandir.
Widely known as the Temple of Fame, this structure was constructed also to celebrate the fifty years of his mighty administration. One of the carvings on the cenotaph makes one reminisce about the good old days, where India was not divided into so many states and territories, due credit to the undivided map of India displayed on the central arch. The 33 m high central arch is also ornamented with the sun, the moon and the earth and the rooms behold the sculptures and photographs of the members of the Gaekwad family.
Maharaja Sayajirao University
The Maharaja Sayajirao University is a premium institution in the city of Vadodara, in Gujarat. The University has evolved from the Baroda College (1881) which was one of the oldest and most respected centres of education in western India. It was later renamed after its benefactor Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the former ruler of Baroda State. The present Maharaja Sayaji Rao University has lived up to the name of its predecessor and done justice to the great Gaekwad dynasty to whom it owes its existence. Apart from being an educational institution, it is also a heritage site.
The university is built upon 275 acres of land and boasts of 14 faculties including arts, commerce, education and psychology, family and community sciences, fine arts, journalism and communication, law, management studies, medicine, performing arts, science, social work, technology and engineering, and pharmacy. The Institution has become a paragon in the field of education with 90 departments, 3 constitutional colleges and several other centres which provide education at varying levels starting from kindergarten to PhD. It is also spreading its wings towards more modern subjects like fashion designing, catering technology and hotel management to keep pace with the times.
Must Try Food in Baroda
1. South Indian Food at 22nd Parallel
2. North Indian Food at Jassi de Parathe
3. Gujarati Thali at Sasumaa
4. North Indian Food at Mirch Masala
5. South Indian Food at Canara Coffee House
6. Chinese at Kabir’s Cuisine
7. Italian at Fiorella Restaurant
8. Gujarati Food at Shree Kathiyawadi Khadki
9. Pizzas at Pizza On The Rock
10. Mexican Food at Salsa Habanero Mexican Taqueria
How To Get Here
Vadodara has an aerodrome of its own, though it currently operates domestic flights only. All the major cities of India are well connected to this airport and hence, travelling from within the the country to this destination should not be a problem. For international flights, the nearest airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad which is located 100 km away.
Getting to Vadodara by road is also a favourable and speedy option. The city is connected to other parts of the country with well developed and super fast highways. You can avail the facility of buses from the STC bus station which is in close proximity to the Vadodara Junction. These buses take you to all the major cities of Gujarat and are also connected to the major cities of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The Vadodara Junction Railway Station is one of the most major railway stations in India and also the busiest in the state of Gujarat. Premium and super fast trains like the Shatabdi and the Rajdhani Express connect Vadodara to cities like Delhi and Mumbai.