The cultural capital of Gujarat, Vadodara was once the capital of the princely state of Baroda. Located on the banks of Vishwamitri river, it is the third most populous city after Ahmedabad and Surat. Known for its culture, history and monuments, Vadodara is an important educational and commercial centre.
The city derives its name from the word ‘Vadapadraka’ (literally in the heart of banyan trees), reference to the groves of banyan trees that abound in the city. During the colonial era, the name of the city was anglicised to Baroda.
Baroda state was one of the largest and richest princely states during pre-Independence India. It was among the five princely states which were accorded 21 gun salute. Baroda state under Maharaja Sayajirao III (1875-1939) developed into an important industrial centre.
Vadodara still enjoys pre-eminent position as an industrial and financial hub. The city is also known as the Knowledge City for its numerous educational institutes. There are 20 public and 100 private schools in the city.
Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), considered the “Jewel in the Baroda crown’, is the most important educational institution of the city. MSU’s Faculty of Fine Arts is one of the top three art colleges in India. The faculty with a reputation for promoting creative and individualist approach, has produced several well known artists like K G Subramanyan, Laxma Goud and Bhupen Khakhar.
Vadodara boasts of a number of tourist attractions from the historic to the modern. Laxmi Vilas Palace and the Nazarpabaug Palace, the most prominent ones, speak evocatively about the wealth of the Gaekwads and the affluence of Baroda state. The Fateh Singh Museum within the Laxmi Vilas Palace also houses paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Sayaji Baug which also houses museums, planetarium and zoo is the largest garden in western India.
A cultural hotspot, Vadodara is also known as ‘Sanskari Nagari’. The city is an interesting blend of Marathi and Gujarati culture. Navratri festivities are the best time to witness the city’s culture.
The city’s bazaars are a haven for shopaholics. Handicrafts, textiles and leather products are the best buys in Vadodara.
Baroda was ruled by Marathas for more than 400 years. In 1734, Damajirao, the son of Pilaji Rao Gaekwad defeated the Mughals in the central and eastern Gujarat and declared Baroda as its capital. The Gaekwads signed a special treaty with the British, which assured protection to Gaekwads from the Peshwas. The treaty also gave complete control to the Gaekwads on Baroda.
Baroda was ruled by Gaekwads till India’s independence in 1947. Post-independence, Baroda was merged with the Bombay Presidency, which included the present day state of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In 1960, Baroda became a part of the newly formed Gujarat.
Where to stay
There are several accommodation options in Vadodara. One can find budget, mid-range and luxury hotels.
Where to eat
There are number of multi-cuisine restaurants in the city. From traditional to South Indian, Mughalai to Continental cuisine is served in the restaurants.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Vadodara is during the months of October to February. During these months the climate remains pleasant. It also coincides with the festival season. Navratri is celebrated on a grand scale in Vadodara.
Photos credit: Wikimedia Commons