If you’re looking for a city with plenty of art, culture and history to explore, look no further than Vadodara, Gujarat. Vadodara is a city located in the western Indian state of Gujarat. History, culture, and temples make this city special. Vadodara, also known as Baroda, was the capital of the Gaekwad dynasty.
The city is rich in both Indian and European heritage, and there are many places to visit in Vadodara. It is also home to several museums, palaces, heritage buildings and exquisite temples. The Laxmi Vilas Palace, the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum and the Sayaji Baug gardens are all worth a visit, as are the temples and mosques in the area.
In addition to its palaces and temples, Vadodara has a number of lesser-known attractions that are worth exploring. For example, Tambekar Wada is a 170-year-old building with exquisite mural paintings. Another hidden gem is Vidyadhar ni Vav or Sevasi Vav, offering a peaceful oasis away from the city’s noise and bustle.
Here are 10 places in Vadodara that you must check out.
1. The Laxmi Vilas Palace
At the heart of Vadodara lies the spectacular Laxmi Vilas Palace, a beautiful example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Built in 1890 by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the palace is four times the size of Buckingham Palace and is one of the largest private residences in the world.
The palace grounds are home to a zoo, a museum, and several outdoor sculptures, making it a perfect place to spend a day exploring. Inside the palace, guests can marvel at the opulent decor, including marble floors, intricately carved doorways, and paintings by some of India’s leading artists. With its imposing facade and grandiose interiors, the Laxmi Vilas Palace is a truly remarkable place.
Laxmi Vilas Palace is open for visitors from 9.30 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays and public holidays. A ticket to the palace and the Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum costs Rs. 250 and Rs. 150, respectively. You can purchase a combined ticket for Rs. 375. It is also possible to book Laxmi Vilas Palace tour online and combine it with other heritage tours.
2. The Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum
The Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum in Vadodara is a must-see for history buffs and art lovers alike. Built in 1961, the museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the Mughal and Maratha Empires, as well as several original royal portraits and sculptures from Raja Ravi Verma and Felici.
Formerly a school for the children of the royal family, the building was converted into a museum following renovations. The highlight of the museum is undoubtedly the Armor Room, which contains an array of weapons and armor dating back to the 16th century. However, the museum also features several other fascinating exhibits, including a collection of miniature paintings and a display of the history of Vadodara.
3. Sayaji Baug
Sayaji Baug, also known as Kamati Baug, is a large park located in the center of Vadodara. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III built the park in 1879 and it covers over 100 acres.
The park is home to several attractions, including a zoo, a planetarium, a floral clock, a joy train ride and several gardens. Visitors can also take a boat ride on the lake or enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around the grounds. Sayaji Baug is a perfect place to spend a day with family and friends.
4. The Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery
The Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery is one of the city’s most important cultural attractions. Founded in 1894 on the lines of the Victoria and Albert Museum, it houses an extensive collection of artifacts from art, sculpture, ethnography & ethnology.
The museum’s collection includes rare manuscripts, coins, sculptures, and paintings by Raja Ravi Verma. The highlight of the gallery is the famous ‘Nataraja’ painting by Raja Ravi Verma, which depicts the Hindu god Shiva performing the cosmic dance of destruction. However, the major attractions of the museum are the Egyptian mummy and a skeleton of a blue Whale.
5. Kirti Mandir
Kirti Mandir is one of the most stunning but understated buildings in Vadodara. Maharaja Sayajirao III built this mausoleum for his ancestors in 1936 as a memorial to the Gaekwad dynasty. Intricate carvings, paintings, and glasswork adorn the E-shaped building, as well as Shikharas (spires) at each corner. Jharokhas (balconies) overlook the central courtyard, which contains the cenotaphs of the Maharaja’s parents.
6. Tambekar Wada
Tambekar Wada is a 19th-century Maratha mansion (traditional house for the rich) that was once the home of the Tambekar family, who were courtiers of the Gaekwad dynasty. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has preserved this fine example of Maratha architecture.
This is a 140-year-old building in the Raopura area of the old city of Vadodara. There are murals from the 19th century that depict Hindu mythology, people’s daily lives, and clones of European paintings. The building also features extensive woodwork and weathered paintings. The paintings are done in the tempera style, and many of them are in the process of recovery. However, despite its age, the building remains an important cultural landmark and an offbeat destination for tourists visiting Vadodara.
7. Qutubuddin Maqbara
Qutubuddin Maqbara is a 14th-century tomb located in the Fatehpur area of Vadodara. Mohammed Shah I built the tomb to honor his general, Qutubuddin. Intricate carvings and calligraphy decorate this fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture.
The tomb is situated in the middle of a courtyard and is surrounded by an arcade (a series of arches). Sculpted Jhalis with geometric figures and Quranic verses surround the cenotaph of Qutubuddin in the tomb’s main chamber. Heritage lovers should not miss this place.
8. Vidyadhar ni Vav (Sevasi Vav)
Vidyadhar ni Vav is a stepwell located in the town of Sevasi, about 15 kilometers from Vadodara. King Raja Haridas built it in 1543 to honor Vidyadhar. The stepwell consists of seven levels built with brick walls and stone pillars. There is no doubt that it is one of the largest and deepest stepwells in Vadodara. Visitors can descend the steps to the bottom of the well.
The well has a wide flight of stairs that leads down to the water. There are narrow passageways connecting the chambers on each level. Sculptures of animals and scenes from Hindu mythology decorate the well. It is said to be an architectural masterpiece of yesteryears.
9. Sur Sagar Lake
Sur Sagar Lake, originally known as “Chandan Talav” is a man-made lake located in the heart of Vadodara city. It was built by Shri Sureshwar Desai in 1875 and is one of the oldest lakes in Gujarat. The lake covers an area of about 1.6 square kilometers and is surrounded by trees and gardens.
The lake is a popular spot for morning walks and picnics. The statue of Lord Shiva stands 120 feet high in the center. In the periphery, there is a large park that attracts many morning walkers. The area is also home to a wide variety of waterbirds.
10. Mandvi Gate
The Mandvi Gate is one of the five main gates into the walled city of Vadodara. It is located in the center of the city, at the intersection of two cardinal streets. The gate was built by Sultan Muzaffar in 1526 and was later renovated by the Maratha rulers in 1736. Each of the four cardinal directions has an adjacent gate that is about 1 km away. It is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is decorated with intricate carvings and calligraphy. The gate has three bold arches opening on each of its four sides. They are adorned with carved pillars and Quranic verses.
In addition to its historical significance, Vadodara is also known for its scenic beauty. The city is situated on the banks of the Vishwamitri River and is surrounded by green hills. Visitors can enjoy views of the river and the surrounding countryside from several vantage points within the city. With its many sights and attractions, Vadodara is an ideal destination for both history buffs and nature lovers.
Other important and helpful resources:
Guided walking tours to explore heritage and cultural trails of Vadodara
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