Vadodara is the third most-populated city in the Indian state of Gujarat after Ahmedabad and Surat. Vadodara or Baroda, is situated on the banks of the Vishwamitri, a river whose name derived from the great saint Rishi Vishwamitra.
Vadodara is famous for its palaces, parks, temples and museums. Vadodara is number one industrial city of Gujarat. Vadodara is also called as ‘Sanskari Nagari(city of tradition)’ for its rich culture traditions. Vadodara is one of india’s most cosmopolition cities. Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum, Nazarbaugh Palace, Pratap Vilas Palace, Vadodara Museum and Gallery etc are the famous places.
This restored artificial lake is large and always full, which makes it a great place to hang out, as well as for boating. It also receives the majority of Ganesh idols during Ganesh Chaturthi.
THE LAKSHMI VILAS PALACE :
Maharaja Sayajirao III commissioned Major Charles Mant (also known as 'Mad' Mant for his eccentric work) to build the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, which was later finished by R.F. Chisolm. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic tradition, with an eclectic mix of Indian, Islamic, and European elements, as if, as Philip Ward writes, “an architectural Paul Klee had taken solid lines for a walk”. The imposingly impressive interior is full of multi-colored marble, mosaic tile and various works of art and the courtyards of palms and fountains have arched entrance-ways big enough for “the tallest elephant with the largest howdah on his back” to pass through, as reported by Edward Weeden, one of the earliest Europeans to stay in the palace. The palace grounds include a golf course and Sayajirao's personal museum, containing, among other displays, original paintings by Raja Ravi Varma. While less impressive than the Vadodara Museum, this one is still worth a brief visit.
The museum is open from 10:30am - 5:30pm
The palace is open from 11am - 5pm and . To view the palace you must ask for a permit from the Maharaja’s secretary in the palace office Both palace and museum are closed on Mondays.
THE NAZARBAUGH PALACE :
Nazarbaugh Palace was once a royal guesthouse, and now houses royal family heirlooms for public viewing (though the building is a little dilapidated). The former royal residence at Pratap Vilas Palace, now converted into the Railway Staff college, has an free entry, but you must ask for permission from the authorities who can also arrange a guided tour from 9am - 6pm.
THE MAKARPURA PALACE :
Makarpura Palace, the supposed royal summer palace, though the royal family mostly spent their summers in the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu, is now used for Indian Air Force training and is not open to the public. Still, the striking 3-storey Italian Renaissance structure is worth peeping at from the outside.
One of the two museums in the Sayaji Baug is the famous Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery, built in 1894, one of the various buildings peppering the city that was commissioned by Sayajirao and designed by Mant and Chisholm (see following section on palaces). Sayajirao traveled widely and commissioned various dealers and scholars to find objects to build a wide-ranging collection with everything from Mughal miniatures, to sculptures, textiles and objects from Japan, Tibet, Nepal, and Egypt and coins from all over the world to exhibits of the Indian musical instruments. There are also exhibits on Earth Sciences, Natural History and Zoology. One of the highlights is the 22m long blue-whale skeleton found in 1972 at the mouth of the River Mahi, most likely washed up in a storm. The Ethnography section has exhibits about tribes from Gujarat: the Rabaris, Gamits, Bhils, Chaudhuris and Wagharis. The museum library has nearly 23,000 books and periodicals on a range of subjects, some of them extremely rare.
The Picture Gallery displays paintings by European masters, mostly from Sayajirao's private collection. There are also two wings on modern paintings.
This is a great place to learn from before traveling to other destinations, with displays such as sculptures removed from sites at Roda and Shamlaji in Eastern Gujarat, architectural fragments and pottery from Champaner, pieces from the carved ceiling in Sheikh Farid's tomb in Patan, glazed ceramics from Ahmedabad, and the unique patola saris from Patan, and a collection of bronze images of Jain tirthankars found at nearby Akota.
The museum is open from 10:30am-5pm.
Balasinor is an erstwhile princely state and a trip is incomplete without a visit or stay at the residence of the royal family (which has now been converted into a heritage homestay). Arguably the star of Balasinor, Rajasaurus Narmadensis is a carnivorous dinosaur species of the Cretaceous period which roamed the Narmada regions about 65 million years ago. Paleontologists from the Geological Survey of India stumbled across the bones of an undiscovered species at Balasinor in 1983 and it was only in 2001, that paleontologists from universities in United States arrived to study the fossils. They realised they had the partial skeleton of an undiscovered species, and named it, quite literally, the "regal dinosaur from the Narmada". Today, a dinosaur fossil park exists at the spot with the fenced area spread over more than 70 acres. Unless you are a paleontologist yourself, do book a guided tour hosted by Princess Aaliya Sultana Babi. She has developed deep expertise in the area and works closely with the paleontologists who have been visiting the region. Be prepared to be awed as she helps you spot fossils of different body parts, dinosaur eggs and what not. By road: Balasinor is about 90 kilometers away from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It should take not more than 90 minutes to reach Balasinor by road
Dinosaur Museum Balasinor
In 1980s Paleontologists accidently came across the fossil remains and bones in the village of Rayioli in Balasinor. Since then, the place has been flooded with researchers and a number of excavations have taken place in the area the findings of which revealed the fact that there were more than 13 species of dinosaurs that thrived around 65 million years ago. The fossil park here contains life sized statues of those giant creatures and further excavations have found that a squat, thick-legged, heavy-bodied carnivorous dinosaur with a crested horn, Rajasaurus Narmandensis, King of Narmada, (the first half of the name comes from Raja or King due to the crested horn and the second half of the name originates due to its geographical location which was near the river Narmada). This creature belonged to the carnivore family of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
A visit to the fossil park will surely make you dig deep into the history of dinosaurs in Gujarat. And in order to quench your thirst for the same, state government came up with a Dinosaur Museum. The museum is spread in an area of over 25,000 sq. feet with 10 galleries spread in the basement and the ground floor depicting various forms of displays (films and exhibitions). An exclusive 3-D film is prepared on Rajasaurus Narmadensis. Other galleries display details on Dinosaurs of India and Gujarat, Fossil Exhibits and many other features that will bring out the child in you. One can relish this museum through digital, print and static form. The state government has not only catered to those seeking information on dinosaurs and their fossils, but also a Time Machine, 3-D film, an Interactive and amusing Dino fun for kids area, a vivid display of Mesozoic times, souvenir shop etc. The museum will depict as many as 40 sculptures that will throw on a light on their size, shape, habits and habitat. The atrium features an exact replica of the habitat of these creatures. A step in the atrium will transport you 65 million years back.
MUSEUM TIMINGS: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday) Monday Closed
Unique in concept and design,the EME Temple is a geodesic structure covered with aluminium sheets. Run entirely by the army authorities, this temple is a major attraction for both tourist and devotees.
Maharaja Fatesingh Museum
The museum has the royal collection of art treasures and works of old masters like Raphael, Titian and Murillo as well as modern western and Indian paintings, Graeco-Roman exhibits, Chinese and Japanese art, and a large collection of contemporary Indian art.
Time : 10.30am-5.30pm
A beautiful palace designed in the Italian style, the Makarpura palace is now used as a training school by the Indian Air Force.
Built around 1586, the tomb of Qutbuddin (the army general of the great king Akbar) has beautiful windows carved in stone; there is an old step-well in the large grounds surrounding it. It is one of the oldest Moghul monuments of the city.
Situated in the old walled city near the Mandvi Clock Tower, it is the oldest palace built in old classic style by Malhar Rao Gaekwad in the late 19th century.
Sayaji Baug (the famous park) is situated on river Vishwamitri and was built by Sayajirao III in 1879. Sprawling over 113 acres, it also includes an excellent zoo, the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery, the Museum of Health and Hygiene and the Sardar Patel Planetarium.A major attraction for children is the 3.5 kms joy ride through the park on the toy train.
Surya Narayan Temple
Surya Narayan Temple is the oldest temple of the city, which is located in the Surya Narayan Baug.
Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum
The Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum contains some fine European paintings.
The Tambekar Wada is a wooden multistoreyed townhouse. This typical Maratha mansion was once the residence of Bhau Tambekar, Diwan of Baroda. Inside are some beautiful 19th century murals.
Time : 8am-6pm
The Kirti Mandir is situated around the Sursagar Lake in the centre of the town. The Kirti Mandir houses the Gaekwad Samadhi or memorial ground.
Within this shady, pleasant park is the Baroda Museum, which houses some good Asian statues and carvings, mangy zoology exhibits and an Egyptian room. The gallery has lovely Mughal miniatures and a motley crew of European masters.
Nazar Bagh Palace
The Nazar Bagh Palace has a Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), a collection of the embroidered cloth and the jewel ‘Star of the south’. The solid gold and silver guns, each barrel 127 kgs. in weight were kept here which on ceremonial occasions, were drawn by the teams of milk-white bullocks.
Makarpura Palace is situated about 7 kms. to the south of the city. This was built in an Italian Renaissance style and has a facade of three storeys each with an arcade running around beautiful gardens.
The Naulakhi Well is a fine baoli, about 50 kms. to the north of the palace. It is a well preserved baoli (step well) which has galleried compartments or levels.