Vadodara boasts of a number of tourist attractions from the historic to the modern. Along with the several palaces, magnificent museums, age old temples, renowned universities and a grand garden & parks, Vadodara has something for everyone. As a rich cultural and historical city, Vadodara has got a fair number of fascinating landmarks.
There is simply so much to see in and around the city that your Republic Day weekend will leave you completely enthralled.
Lukshmi Vilas Palace
The Lukshmi Vilas Palace is definitely one of the most grandiose and prominent palaces in the city. It speaks evocatively of the wealth of the Gaekwads and the affluence of the Baroda state. The royal family resides at the Lukshmi Vilas Palace. One of India’s finest palaces constructed by Maharaja Sayaji Rao III between 1878 and 1890 using Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture, it is four times the size of the Buckingham Palace. It stands out for its striking interiors, luxurious design, rich furnishings, wide collection of sculptures, weapons and armories, and marble mosaics. The elaborate Darbar Hall in particular, is one of the Palace’s biggest attractions known for its Italian mosaic floor and rich mosaic decorations that adorn its walls. Several smaller buildings within the palace compound include the Motibaug Palace, the Moti Bagh Stadium and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum. The palace had a zoo in earlier times, which has now shifted to Sayajibaug. Also worth seeing is the Navlakhi Step-well located north of the palace. It is believed to have the capacity to hold 9 million gallons of water, thus the name. Frequented by peacocks and monkeys, a trip to the palace will transport you to an era bygone.
Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum
Located within the Lukshmi Vilas Palace compound, this museum is a treasure trove of the royal arts and artifacts. Its fabulous collection includes Greek, Roman and European sculptures in marble and bronze. It houses a rich collection of masterpieces and artifacts by European painters such as Titan, Rapheal and Murillo. Not only has the museum been decorated by Italian artist Fellicci, but his works are also seen at the palace and the Sayaji Garden. It also houses the original paintings of India's celebrated artist Raja Ravi Varma, which includes portraits of the royal family and paintings on Hindu mythology. The ground floor gallery has Chinese and Japanese bronze statues and enamel work. The first floor gallery has a vast collection of 17th-18th century French furniture.
Pratap Vilas Palace
Built in 1914, the palace is designed in Renaissance architecture. The entrance is adorned by exquisite carvings and the palace is noted for its architectural grandeur highlighted with columns and arches. Carvings of creepers, flowers, leaves, birds and animals on the columns make the palace lively. It has columns and arches drawn from South India, Central India, North India and Islamic tradition. The palace now houses the Railway Staff College. A mini-railway model room showing several railway operations can be seen here.
Makarpura palace was built in 1870 by Maharaja Khanderao in an Italian Renaissance style on the southern outskirts of Baroda. It was supposed to be the summer palace despite the fact that the royal family spent most of their summers in the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III extended the place and renovated it years after it was built. The palace is the current home of the Indian Air Force that lies beyond military grounds.
Sprawling across 113 acres, it is the largest garden in Western India. Built in 1879 by Maharaja Sayaji Rao III, the garden is famous for its beautiful fountains and pavilions. Attractions within the park include a zoo and an aquarium, the Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery, the Museum of Health and Hygiene, a Floral Clock, a Band-Stand and the Sardar Patel Planetarium. You can also enjoy a fun ride on the toy-train and the joy-rides. The planetarium conducts several audio-visual programmes on our planetary system and the movement of celestial bodies in space. The zoo houses tigers, lions, panther and deer along with a wide range of bright and colourful birds. The aquarium is particularly interesting with its 45 species of fishes including several rare varieties.
Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery
Another example of Indo-Saracenic architecture is the Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery. Built to resemble London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, it was founded in 1890 by the Gaekwads and designed by Major Mant in association with R F Chisholm. The museum houses a wide array of arts and treasures. Most notable are the famous Akota bronzes that date to the 5th century A.D, a collection of Mughal miniatures and a full-fledged gallery of Tibetan Art by several European masters. Apart from these, the Egyptian mummy and the skeleton of a blue whale are major attractions. Also on display are palm sized original Buddhist and Jain manuscripts. The Picture Gallery displays an excellent collection of originals by famous British painters
The former residence of Maharashi Aurobindo Ghosh, a reputed freedom fighter and private secretary to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, today serves as the Aurobindo Society. The residence was once visited by several prominent freedom fighters such as Lokmanya Tilak, Sakharam Ganesh Dueskar, Bipin Chandra Pal, etc. The institute, today, is surrounded by manicured gardens and provides a peaceful environment. Yoga and meditation classes are held and taught here regularly. Various useful items prepared at the centre in Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) are sold in an emporium on the ground floor. A tiny museum in the centre has on display the relics of Sri Aurobindo and also houses a library and a study room.
Unlike any other temple in India, the EME Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is a symbol of religious harmony. Built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps, this modern temple is made of aluminum sheets. While its entrance represents Jainism, its tower is said to symbolize Christianity, the tower top indicates Buddhism, and its geodesic domes represent Hinduism and Islam. Also referred as the Dakshinamurti Temple, it is said to emit strong spiritual vibes.
It was built by Maharaja Sayajirao in memory of the royal ancestors. You can see here the works of Nandalal Bose, a renowned Bengali artist along with rare photographs of members of the royal Gaekwad family. Bronze images of the sun, moon and the earth, along with map of undivided India adorn the spire of the temple.
Literally meaning Temple of Justice, this building houses the District Court of the city. The main hall has fine mosaic tiles and a statue of Chimnabai, wife of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III.
It is the only Mughal monument in the city. It is the tomb of Qutbuddin and exhibits beautiful stone-carved windows and an old step-well.
The Khanderao Market
It is a striking building that was constructed by Maharaja Sayaji Rao III in 1906. It was gifted to the municipality to mark his silver jubilee celebrations. Today it houses the offices of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation.
The Mandvi Gate is another major landmark of the city that dates back to 1511-26 AD. Built by Sultan Muzaffar, this gate is lit up on special occasions adding to its beauty.
Besides these, other attractions in the city include Mahatma Gandhi Nagar Gruh –the City Town Hall, Sursagar Lake with a 120ft statue of Lord Shiva, Maharaja Sayajirao University and the Lehripura Gate.