“History is who we are and why we are the way we are” - David C. McCullough
A city shaped by the legendary vision of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad, Vadodara is one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities, and the seat of arts, culture, architecture, music, education and industry of Gujarat.
Known as Sayaji Nagari (Sayaji’s City), the golden period in Vadodara’s history started with the glorious rule of Maharaja Sayajirao III in 1875. Under his rule the city saw an era of great progress and constructive achievements in all fields. During his reign, art and architecture flourished. This was to fulfill his dream of making Baroda an educational, industrial and commercial centre. He established compulsory primary education, a library system, a university, model textile and tile factories and great museums.
The Maharaja was a noted patron of the arts. During his time, Baroda became a hub for artists and scholars. The celebrated painter, Raja Ravi Varma, was among those who spent substantial periods of time at his court.
Sayajirao was also a patron of Indian classical music. Ustad Moula Bux founded the Academy of Indian Music under his patronage. This Academy later became the Music College and is now the Faculty of Performing Arts of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara. Apart from Ustad Moula Bux, Sayajirao’s court boasted of great artistes like Ustad Inayat Khan and Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. In 1914, the first All India Music Conference was held in Baroda. The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara was also the first to start a dance programme in India in 1950.
Sayajirao encouraged several talented academicians by sponsoring their education. It was Sayajirao who first recognized the potential of a young Sri Aurobindo, whom he met in London, and asked him to join the services of the Baroda state. Sayajirao was also the patron of many other prominent individuals including Babasaheb Ambedkar, Dadabahi Navroji and Chintaman Vishnu Sane.
A pioneer of the Library Movement in India, Sayajirao established India’s first state-supported network of free public libraries. Over the years, Vadodara has emerged as the ‘Knowledge City’, attracting students from all across India and the world.
The people of Vadodara will forever be indebted to the rich heritage that Sayajirao gifted to their city.