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Vadodara also known as Baroda formerly, is the third largest city in the Western Indian State of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad and Surat. It is the administrative headquarters of Vadodara District and is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri river, southeast of Ahmedabad, 139 kilometres (86 mi) from the state capital Gandhinagar. The railway line andNH 8 that connect Delhi and Mumbai pass through Vadodara.

As of 2011 Vadodara had a population of almost 2.2 million people. The city is the site of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace, once owned by the royalGaekwad dynasty of the Marathas. It is also the home of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara), the largest university in Gujarat. An important industrial, cultural and educational hub of western India, the city houses several institutions of national and regional importance while its major industries include petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals,pharmaceuticals, plastics, IT and foreign exchange services amongst others.

History

The first recorded history of the city is that of the early trader settlers who settled in the region in 812 AD. The province was mainly Hindu-dominated with Hindu kings ruling until 1297. The Gupta Empire was the first power in the region in the early years of the Christian Era. After fierce battles, the region was taken over by the Chalukya Dynasty. Finally, the kingdom was annexed by the Solanki dynasty. By this time Muslim rule had spread across India, and the reins of power were then snatched by the Delhi Sultans. The city was ruled for a long time by these Sultans, until they were overthrown by the Mughals. The Mughals biggest problem were the Marathas who eventually took over the region. It became the capital of the Maratha Gaekwads.

SayajiraoGaekwad III (1875–1939) made many public and bureaucratic improvements in the region. Although the British had a major influence on the region, Baroda remained a princely state until Independence. Like many other princely states, Baroda also joined the Dominion of India in 1947.

Etymology

Two thousand years ago, there was a small town known as "Ankottaka" (present day Akota) on the western bank of the river Vishwamitri . The earliest mention of Vadodara is in a granth or charter of 812 that identifies it as Vadapadraka, a village attached to the nearby town of Ankottaka. In 600 AD, severe flooding of the Narmada River forced the inhabitants to move to its eastern side to a village known as Vatpatrak (literally, leaf of banyan tree) which developed into Vadodara. In the 10th century, Vadapadraka replaced Ankottaka as the main town.

The city was once called Chandanavati after its ruler Raja Chandan of the Dor tribe of Rajputs, who wrested it from the Jains. The capital was also known as Virakshetra or Viravati (Land of Warriors). Later on it was known as Vadpatraka or Vadodará, which according to tradition is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word vatodar meaning in the heart of the Banyan tree. It is now almost impossible to ascertain when the various changes in the name were made; but early English travellers and merchants mention the town as Brodera, and it is from this that the name Baroda is derived. In 1974, the official name of the city was changed to Vadodara.

In 1907, a small village and township in Michigan, United States, were named after Baroda.

Old Ankotakka

It is believed that early man lived on the banks of the Mahi River, which formed the flood plain during that age.The movements of these hunter-gatherers, living on the banks of the river, grubbing the roots and killing animals with crude stone tools made out of the cobbles and pebbles available on the river bank, were necessarily controlled by the availability of convenient raw materials for their tools. There is evidence of the existence of early man in the Mahi River valley at a number of sites within 10 to 20 kilometres (6.2 to 12.4 mi) to the north-east of Vadodara. However, no evidence of the existence of these people is found in and around present day Vadodara. This may be because of the absence of gravels and cobbles on the banks of the Vishwamitri rivulet.

The next phase of the pre-historic Vadodara witnessed the first human settlement on the right bank of the river Vishwamitri on a group of dunes resting on the alluvium of the river. These people still belonged to the stone age, crafting their tools with finely grained stones. From their material culture and physical environment, they seem to have belonged to the same culture as those whose implements were found in the Mahi River valley. This human settlement has been dated to 1000 BC.

Around the beginning of the Christian Era, a small township developed at the same spot as the above-mentioned settlement on the right bank of the river. It came to be known as Ankotakka (present day Akota). The mound on which this settlement was established came to be known as Dhantekri. The entire settlement was developed by clearing the grazing land and forests of Ankhol and covered an area of .5 to .75 square kilometres (0.19 to 0.29 sq mi). This indicated thepresence of thick forests during those times. Due to its location on the ancient trade route between Gujarat and Malwa, this small township flourished into a commercial centre.

The township of Ankotakka developed during the rule of the Guptas and the Vallabhis. It was subjected to periodical heavy floods and severe flood which inundated the renovated public hall, forced the inhabitants to abandon this township and moved away from the banks of the Vishwamitri. The flood occurred in 600 AD where upon the inhabitants moved to the east of Ankotakka to another elevated portion located in the present Kothi area. This formed the nucleus of a new township.

Recent history

Main article: Baroda State

Baroda State in 1909

Flag of the Baroda State

The City of Vadodara was described by a medieval Jain writer as a "Tilak on the Brove of Lata". It was a nodal center of the coastal plain of Gujarat strategically located at a junction of the main highways linking Gujarat with Rajputana to the north, Malwa and the Ganges Valley to the north-east and Maharashtra to the south and south-east. Significantly, Vadodara is today a junction on the western railway of the lines leading to Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai. This confirms the historic role of Vadodara in the communication pattern for movements of people and culture. The history of Vadodara city amply bears out its cultural and commercial activities during the last two thousand years. Apart from the traditional stories, knowledge of the history of Vadodara is based mainly on Jain literature and a few old inscriptions pertaining to Vadodara.

Baroda State was a former Indian State in Western India. Baroda's more recent history began when the Maratha general PilajiGaekwad conquered Songadh from the Mughals in 1726. Before the Gaekwads captured Baroda, it was ruled by the BabiNawabs, who were the officers of the Mughal rulers. Most notably, from 1705–1716, SardarSenapatiKhanderaoDabhade led the Maratha Empire forces in Baroda. Except for a short period, Baroda continued to be in the reign of the Gaekwads from 1734 to 1948. Initially detailed to collect revenue on behalf of the Peshwa in Gujarat, PilajiGaekwad remained there to carve out a kingdom for himself. Damajirao, son and successor of PilajiGaekwad, defeated the Mughal armies and conquered Baroda in 1734. His successors consolidated their power over large tracts of Gujarat, becoming easily the most powerful rulers in the region. After the Maratha in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, control of the empire by the Peshwas weakened as it became a loose confederacy, and the Gaekwad Maharajas ruled the kingdom until it acceded to Independent Republic of India in 1949. In 1802, the British intervened to defend a Maharaja that had recently inherited the throne from rival claimants, and Vadodara concluded a subsidiary alliance with the British that recognised the Kingdom as a Princely state and allowed the Maharajas of Baroda internal political sovereignty in return for recognising British 'Paramountcy', a form of suzerainty in which the control of the state's foreign affairs was completely surrendered.

SayajiraoGaekwad III, Real Sculptor of City of Culture, King of Baroda

The golden period in the Maratha rule of Baroda started with the accession of Maharaja Sayajirao III in 1875.

Dance

Over the centuries there were many alliances and marriages between Baroda's kings and princesses. Dancers were often part of the dowry as dancers, poets and musicians were status symbols for the royal courts such that maharajas had as many artists as they could afford. In 1880 the Maharani LaksmiBai (Chimnabai I) of Tanjore was married to Baroda's Maharaja Sayajirao III GopalraoGaekwad, an enlightened prince who after ascending the throne established the Baroda College as one of his first public acts. It was later absorbed into the university that bears his name.[citation needed]

Chimnabai I was knowledgeable in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music, and brought a troupe with her comprising two dancers, two nattuvanars (leaders of Bharatanatyam concerts) and two teachers (Khandwani 2002). Others followed later, including NattuvanarAppaswamy and his dancer wife Kantimati, who had studied with Kannusamy and Vadively, two members of the Tanjore Quartet. After the death of Appaswamy in 1939, Kantimati and their son,GuruShriKubernathTanjorkar,left Baroda to teach in Lucknow,and then worked in the film industry in South India until Sayajirao's successor, PratapsinhraoGaekwad recalled the family to Baroda in 1949 to teach in the Music Department in the Kalavan Palace, later absorbed into the Maharaja Sayajirao University (Gaston 1996: 158–160).Later GuruvaryaShriKubernathTanjorkar established his own Institute namely Tanjore Dance Music & Art Research Centre at Baroda with his Son Guru Shri Ramesh Tanjorkar and Guru Smt.Leela R. Tanjorkar and their family. This established a tradition of Bharatanatyam dancers and teachers, who were members of a family considered an offshoot of the Tanjore Quartet bani(stylistic schools; Gaston 1996: 159), already established in Gujarat by the time Mrinalini set up her own academy.

Vadodara is divided by the Vishwamitri into two physically distinct eastern and western regions. The eastern bank of the river houses the old city, which includes the old fortified city of Vadodara. This part of Vadodara is characterised by packed bazaars, the clustered and barricaded Pol system of shanty buildings, and numerous places of worship. It houses the General Post Office and landmark buildings like Laxmi Vilas Palace, Mandvi area and NyayMandir. The colonial period saw the expansion of the city on the western side of Vishwamitri. This part of the city houses educational institutions such as the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (M.S.U.), the Vadodara Railway Station, modern buildings, well-planned residential areas, shopping malls, multiplexes and new business districts.

Tourist Places in Vadodara

AjwaNimeta Dam and Garden

It is an earthen dam that was built early 20th century by the then ruler of Vadodara, Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III. Its main aim was to provide water to the residents of Vadodara. Although the population of Baroda at that time was 100,000 it was the ruler's vision to build the reservoir 3 times larger. This reservoir has the ability to attend to the water requirements of about 300,000 people residing in the eastern parts of the city.

Adjacent to the dam are the famous Ajwa gardens also called as Vrindavan Garden, which are an adaptation of the famous Vrindavan gardens located in Mysore. It is very famous especially in the evenings for its coloured fountains and a musical fountain.

Ankottaka

Now known as Akota, this site began as a small settlement among Akola trees, a kilometer west of where would later lie Vadodara. Towards the 5th century AD it was known as a center of Jainism and Jain studies. The 68 bronze statues of tirthankars recovered from the site so far are now housed in the Vadodara Museum and they provide an insight into metallic art at the time.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is located in Panchmahal district in Gujarat, India. It was inscribed in 2004. There is a concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th century capital of the state of Gujarat.

The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of the Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year.

The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. The city has been given a lot of attention by architect Karan Grover, who spent much time and effort in both trying to bring to restore and improve the condition of the city, but also help in the restoration of Indian heritage.

ChhotaUdepur

Towards the border with Rajasthan, ChhotaUdepur shares a history with DevgadhBaria and Rajpipla as one of the three princely states of eastern Gujarat. The small town sits on the edge of a big lake, with a series of temples along the skyline. The Jain temple is an interesting example of the influence of Victorian art on local building styles. Structures from the 1920s such as the Kusum Vilas Palace(also a heritage hotel) and PremBhavan are also worth visiting, though they need permission from the local royal family.

Dabhoi

The fort of Dabhoi is one of the rare surviving examples of Hindu military architecture, based on the shastri traditions described in various Vaastuscriptures.The architectural style and the exquisite stone carving and iconography on the fort walls and gates suggests that it was conceived and constructed in the same period as RudraMahalaya and Zinzuwada Fort. It is mentioned as an important city in the Jain inscriptions of Girnar

It is a major Jain pilgrimage place. There are 6 temples. ShriLodhanParshvanath temple is main attraction. Dabhoi is also known for great philanthropist Shree indubhaisheth,He was one of the great son of dabhoi,he was involved in lot of charity work

Darbar Hall

Considered as one of the most famous museums of the country it was built in 1894. The picture gallery which offers an excellent collection of originals by famous British painters Turner and constable and many others attract tourists from every part of the country. The Egyptian mummy and skeleton of a blue whale are major attractions for those who visit the museum.Other treasure includes the famous Akota bronzes dating the 5th Century A.D., A collection of Mughal miniatures, a full fledgedgallory of Tibetan Art and oils by several European masters.

EME Temple

The Indian army does not usually have separate places of worship for the different faiths, but this temple, built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) corps entirely out of aluminum sheets, worships Dakshinamurti, another name for Shiva as an ultimate teacher. This uncommonly modern-looking temple is, however, built with holy symbols from various religions. It is open from 6:30am-8:30pm. Photography is prohibited.

KadiaDungar Caves

Seven rock-cut caves and monolithic lion pillars are present at KadiaDungar, near Bharuch. The caves suggest that they were viharas. A Brick stupa was also found in the foothills. These caves were in use during 1st and 2nd century AD.

Kayavarohan Temple

Kayavarohan is a village located in Vadodara. Kayavarohan is one of the sixty-eight 'teerthas' (Pilgrimage) of Lord Shiva as mentioned in the Shiva Purana. It is of great significance to the Pasupatas (Followers of the Pashupati doctrine). There is a huge ocassion on Maha Shiv Ratri Festival.

Khanderao Market

Khanderao Market is a palatial building located in the city of Vadodara, Gujarat State, western India.

It was erected by Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III in 1906. It was presented by him as a gift to the Municipality to mark the Silver Jubilee of his administration. The offices of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation are located in this building. Fresh Vegetable and Flower market is also located in the back garden.

Kirti Temple

"KirtiMandir, Vadodara", or Temple of Fame, is the cenotaph of the Gaekwads, located in the city of Vadodara.

It was built by Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III to perpetuate the glorious memory of his beloved ancestors. The sun, the moon and the earth in bronze with the undivided map of India adorn the shikhar of KirtiMandir. KirtiMandir was built in 1936 as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace

The Lakshmi Vilas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school, was built by Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III in 1890 at a cost of GBP180,000. Major Charles Mant was the architect.

It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built in the nineteenth century and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda.

Its ornate Darbar Hall, which is sometimes the venue of music concerts and other cultural events, has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations.In the 1930s Maharaja Pratapsinh created a golf course for use by his European guests. Palace also boasts of a zoo and a museum.

Lehripura Gate

Built as the western gateway to the old city in 1558, Lehripura Gate is an impressive structure with beautiful arches.

Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum

A large number of works of art belonging to the Royal family are displayed in the museum.The major works of art in this museum are the paintings by European and Indian artists including a collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who was specially commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Varma was famous.

There is a collection of sculptures in marble and bronze. These include copies of great masters in bronze commissioned by the Maharaja and also originals by renowned artists. One of the artists commissioned by the Maharaja was an Italian artist Fellicci whose works adorn not only the Museum but also the Lakshmi Vilas Palace.

The museum has an oriental gallery which houses Japanese and Chinese sculptures and other works collected by the Maharaja on his visits to these countries.

Maharaja Sayajirao University

The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, named after Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III, the former ruler of Baroda, is one of the premier universities of India located in the city of Vadodara, (Baroda) in Gujarat state. It is popularly known as M.S.University (MSU). Originally known as the Baroda College of Science (established 1881).

It became a university in 1949 after the independence of the country. It is both a teaching and residential university in the sense that it offers all its courses under a single roof. It is the only university in Gujarat whose medium of instruction is English for all its courses.

Mahatma Gandhi Nagar Gruh

This is the city's town hall and was constructed in 1954. It is used for various cultural functions.

Makarpura Palace

Makarpura Palace was Gaekwad royal palace in the city of Vadodara, Gujarat state, India. It was built by Maharaja KhendeRao in 1870, designed in the Italian style. It was extended and renovated by Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad III. The palace is now used as a training school by the Indian Air Force.

Mandvi Gate

This imposing structure was built during the Mughal period and was restored in 1736 A.D. by the Governor, MalharoaMaloji under the orders of DamajiRoa II (1732-1768 A.D.).

Maqbara (Hajira)

Constructed in the memory of Kutub-ud-din the general of Akbar's army, it is the only existing Mughal monument of the city. There is also a step well in its vicinity.

Nazarbaugh Palace

"Nazarbaug Palace" was Gaekwad Royal Palace in the city of Vadodara, Gujarat state, western India. Nazarbagh Palace was build in 1721. It has solid gold and silver guns, each barrel weighing over 100kg. It also has a Sheesh Mahal, a Glass Palace.

Built in old classical style, the palace was used on ceremonial occasions by the Gaekwads. The royal family heirlooms are on display.

Nyaymandir

The NyayaMandir, temple of justice, is a unique piece of Byzantine architecture. It houses the District Court of Baroda.

Pratap Vilas Palace

The railway staff college was founded in 1930 at Prem Nagar, Dehradun District, and then shifted to its present regal sylvan surroundings at Vadodara, in 1952. It is housed in the Pratap Vilas Palace (built in 1914 AD) surrounded by lush green lawns and designed by C.F. Stevens in the renaissance style.

The property comprising of 55 acres (220,000 m2) of garden and wooded land, enlivened by the calls of peacocks and migratory birds, was purchased from the Gaikwads (erstwhile rulers) of Vadodara.

Sankheda

Sankheda in Vadodara, India is known for its lacquer works. The work is done on country wood, which being brown gives darker shades.It is world famous for its handicraft furniture. The furniture made from Teak wood. The furniture made here is exported all over the world.

Development of this town comes from huge contribution by Dr.Jethalal K Parikh,who worked really hard to give good education and employment to local community.There are schools and hospital named under his wife.Local community to appreciate his efforts for development of town, they named a road after his name and has his statue at entrance of town.

SayajiBaug

SayajiBaug (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.

The planetarium shows you the universe in half an hour, at 4pm in Gujarati, 5pm in English, and 6pm in Hindi.After the show take a look at the astronomy park next door to see the astronomical instruments of ancient India.

SayajiSarovar

The SayajiSarovar or Ajwalake, 22 kms away from the city is the principal source of water. It is formed by damming the Surya river and VaghaliNala. Work on the scheme was started in 1885 and was completed in 1890. The gardens at Ajwa are patterned after the famous Brindavan Gardens of Mysore. The illumination of fountains is a major attraction for tourists.

Sri AurobindoNiwas

Sri Aurobindo Ashram is located at Dandia Bazar in the city of Vadodara, Gujarat, western India. Relics of ShriAurobindo are present here. It is open to all for meditation. It houses a library, study room and sales emporium.

AurobindoGhosh lived in this bunglow during his stay in Baroda (1894- 1906)as private secretary to HH SayajiraoGaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda and then Professor of English and vice-principal of Baroda College (now MSU). During that period few famous people visited this bunglow- like LokmanyaTilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Sister Nivedita, Sakharam Ganesh Dueskar and some marathi yogi saints.

SursagarTalav

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.

Tambekar Wada

Tambekar Wada, a 4-storey haveli, the residence of the Diwan of Vadodara acquired by the Archeological Survey of India, is famous for its wall paintings from the 19th century Maratha tradition depicting scenes from the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna's life and from the Anglo-Maratha war.

Vadhvana Wetland and Eco Campsite

This irrigation reservoir and wetland located 10 kms from Dabhoi and 20 kms from the Jambughoda village, is the water source for 25 nearby villages, and a popular birdwatching site for species including stork, tern, ibis, and spoonbill. To get here you will have to rent a vehicle from Dabhoi, taking the Nanderi Gate road.

Apart from being a wetland, it also has an eco tourism campsite. The best time to visit the wetland is from October to March cause that is the main migratory seasons for birds which migrate here from all over the world.

Vadodara Museum and Gallery

The famous museum was built in 1894 on the lines of Victoria and Albert and Science Museums of London. Major Mant in association with R.F. Chisholm who refined some of Mant's finest works to make genuine Indo-Sarcenic architecture designed the Building of this Museum

It preserves a rich collection of art, sculpture, ethnography and ethnology. Several of the paintings are not only original but masterpieces at the picture gallery. The picture gallery which offers an excellent collection of originals by famous British painters Turner and constable and many others attract tourists from every part of the country. The Egyptian mummy and skeleton of a blue whale are major attractions for those who visit the museum.

Other treasure includes the famous Akota bronzes dating the 5th Century AD, A collection of Mughal miniatures, a full fledged gallery of Tibetan Art and oils by several European masters.

Vishwamitri River

The Vishwamitririver is a seasonal river which flows east to west between the Mahi and Narmada rivers in Gujarat, India. It originates in the hills of Pavagadh.

A study conducted in 2002 by the Crocodile Specialist Group has shown that in spite of these pollutants, the 25 kilometre stretch of the river which passes through Vadodara is the home to 100 mugger crocodiles.

SardarBaug, Jubilee Baug, LalBaug, KirtiStambh, Chandod, Galteshwar, Nareshwar, Sankheda, Kabirwad, JuniKothi, Kala Bhavan, Motibaug Palace, Vadodara Central Library, ABS Tower Art Gallery, Sindhrot Nature Park etc.