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Hello from Lakshmi Vilas Palace

Vadodara – A Travel Guide to Gujarat’s Cultural Capital

Vadodara is a city of rich heritage. It is the third largest city in Gujarat which is 132 km away from the state capital Gandhinagar. ‘Vad’ in Gujarati translates to Banyan and the city is said to have umpteen number of Banyan trees since ages and hence the name ‘Vadodara’. During the 18th century when the Britishers entered India in order to trade, they found the name difficult to pronounce and hence they made it Brodera which eventually became Baroda. The city was renamed to its original name ‘Vadodara’ in 1974. This blog post ‘Vadodara – A Travel Guide to Gujarat’s Cultural Capital’, will provide you with detailed information on what to do in Vadodara.

Vadodara gate
Colorful city gates

How to reach Vadodara?

If you are travelling from the Southern part of India, flight would be the only option I would want to suggest, unless you are willing to spend 40+ hours in the train. You can either directly land at Vadodara or land at Ahmedabad and then board a bus to Vadodara which will come out to be a bit cheaper. There are buses available every 15 minutes from Gita Mandir New Bus stand in all ranges, starting from Rs.86 up to Rs.200.

Mumbai to Baroda: 5-6 hours by train and 7-8 hours by bus
Delhi to Baroda: Either board a flight to Ahmedabad (and then Ahmedabad-Baroda bus route) or a direct flight to Baroda itself.

Where to stay?

I have filtered the search results for you. Click here for suggestions on places to stay.

Day 1

Lakshmi Vilas Palace

This would be the first place anybody in Baroda will suggest tourists to visit. When I visited Lakshmi Vilas Palace, I was taken aback by the marvellous structure and the intricate designs on its exterior. The palace also has an enormous golf course in front of it which adds to the charm.

Full view of the palace

I took an audio guide at an additional cost since I was keen on knowing about the place. You can click as many pictures as you want outside the palace. Photography is strictly prohibited inside.

The princely state of Vadodara was the capital of The Gaekwads (Marathas) since the 18th century till India’s independence in 1947. Most of the people employed within the palace premises are Marathi speaking inspite of being in Gujarat where Gujarati is the dominant language. When we checked with the employees there regarding this, we got to know that the king likes it that way. ?

Golf course
Golf course

The construction of the palace began in 1879 and got completed in 1890. It has 170 rooms and was initially built only for 2 people. The Royal family still lives in the very palace and hence only the ground floor is open for visitors. The audio guide will direct you to spots within the palace and the adjoining palace grounds and it is very informative.

Points to note:

Timings: 10am-5pm (Closed on Mondays)
Palace Entry Ticket: Rs.200 (with audio guide it would be Rs.250)
Audio guide is available in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and English
Time required: 2 hours

Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum

The museum lies within the palace grounds. The entry gate is number 4 to the museum and 2 to the palace. You can get a combined ticket to the palace and museum at a subsidised cost if you are planning on visiting both on the same day. I took the audio guide here as well. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum just like the palace.

Fateh Singh Museum

The current museum was once a school for the Royal children. They used to go to their school from the Lakshmi Vilas Palace through a toy train. The museum houses sculptures and paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Fellicci and many other Indian, European, Chinese and Japanese artists.

Points to note:

Museum entrance ticket: Rs.60 (with audio guide it would be Rs.90)
Audio guide is available in Hindi and English
Timings: 10.30am – 5.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Time required: 1.5 hours

Kirti Mandir

Kirti Mandir (Temple of fame) was built in memory of the ancestors of the Gaekwad family. It is now used by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation for art and craft exhibitions. There is no idol inside the temple. It has rare paintings and art works of famous artists. There are 3 other Hindu temples within the same premises.

Points to note:

Entry ticket: Nil
Timings: 10am – 5pm (Closed on Sundays)

Sri Aurobindo Nivas

One place that I would want to keep visiting every time I visit Baroda would be Sri Aurobindo Nivas. The place in itself had so much of positive vibes. It created a sense of calmness and positivity inside me. The Ashram is the only National Memorial in the city of Baroda.

Sri Aurobindo stayed in Baroda from 1893 to 1906. This was his longest stay in one place in India, except for Pondicherry. He was the Principal of Baroda College (now know as The Maharaja Sayajirao University) during his stay in Baroda and secretary to Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III. The bungalow that was his residence, was handed over to the Aurobindo Society in 1971 to spread the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Click here to read about Pondicherry and Auroville.

We got to know a lot about the Ashram because of Jitu Bhai who is an employee at the Ashram in Baroda for 40+ years. We were blessed to have him tell us about the various activities that happen at the Ashram.

United India (before independence)

The Ashram is very spacious. It has 23 rooms, a library, a health centre and a store that sells Ayurvedic products. It offers various services to the people at a very minimal cost.

Services offered

There is a 15-day Yoga course from 5.30 – 6.30 am and 6 – 7 pm at Rs.50/- in the space behind the Ashram before entering the pink building that provides stay and medical facilities within the Ashram premises. The timings for the Acupuncture session is 9 – 11am.
The cost of Aurobindo Society membership and the library is Rs.180 and Rs.50 for a year respectively.

There is an exhibition hall within the Ashram that tells you everything about Sri Aurobindo and The Mother since their birth.

Points to note:

Entry Ticket: Nil
Timings: 8am – 8pm

Sur Sagar Lake

The lake is situated at the heart of the city. There is a 120 feet tall Shiva statue in the middle of the lake. The statue and the walking space around the lake area is lit in the evenings. It would be pleasant to take a morning or an evening walk. There are boat rides as well.

You can find many mobile fast-food stalls around the lake, if you are in for a quick bite. If you want to go to the Nava Bazaar for shopping, it is at a walkable distance from the lake.

Nava Bazaar

Day 2

Sevasi Vav

If you fancy symmetrical structures like me then you are going to love Sevasi Vav in Vadodara. It is an ancient heritage stepwell (at least 500 years old) and an archaeological site. There is a temple within the stepwell. The place is not so well maintained and I heard that people who come for photoshoots are ruining the 500 years old step well. Unfortunately, you find water along with discarded plastic waste, bottles, flowers and flies as you approach the bottom of the stepwell.

I stayed only 3.5 km from the stepwell so I paid my visit on an early morning.

Points to note:

Entry Ticket: Nil
Timings: Open 24 hours

Tambekar Wada

The proverb ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ goes right with Tambekar Wada. It was a Maratha mansion, residence of Bhau Tambekar, who was the Diwan (Minister) of the erstwhile Vadodara state from 1849 – 1854 AD. It is one of the structures in Baroda which is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The Wada is a three-storeyed building. Visitors are allowed to visit till the 1st floor accompanied by someone from the ASI office in the ground floor of the Wada. You will see different paintings on the wall telling you stories of Mahabharata, Ramayana & wars that involved Indian and British soldiers.

Wooden Jaali
Wooden Jaali

The ASI is taking measures to restore the paintings. There are no artificial lights within the building in order to not damage the colours used in the painting. When I asked if I can click pictures, the representative told me to go ahead but without any flash from my camera.

Points to note:

Timings: 10am – 5pm
Entry ticket: Nil

Sayaji Baug

The 113-acre garden in Vadodara is one of the largest public gardens in Western India. It has a mini zoo, planetarium, museum and picture gallery, flower clock, an operational toy train, fun rides like bumping car, jumping jet, zipline etc.

Baroda Museum and Art Gallery

The Baroda Museum and Art Gallery has a rare collection of paintings, sculptures, crockeries, clothes, statues, bones, stones, mummified birds, animals, sea creatures and much more from all over the world.

Points to note:

Park Timings: 7am – 6pm (Closed on Thursdays)
Museum, planetarium, train and fun ride timings: 10am – 5pm
Museum ticket: Rs.100/-
Train ticket: Rs.50/-

EME Temple

The temple is built by the Indian Army Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers. It is also maintained by the Indian Army. The temple is said to follow secularism and represents 6 religions of the world.
I didn’t get a chance to visit EME Temple because it was closed due to Covid-19.

Points to note:

Timings: 9.30am – 5pm (Closed on Sundays)

Places to visit from Vadodara

  • Champaner
  • Statue of Unity
    I will be writing blog posts on these places as well.

Vadodara is a place of rich legacy and mesmerizing architecture. I noticed government buildings like The Collector Office and Municipal Corporation having wonderful structures. I have never seen a market building that is as good as the Khanderao Market. The city is a blend of the old and the contemporary. The bus stand and railway station are next to each other which makes it easy for people who want to travel.

Click here for more travel guides similar to Vadodara – A Travel Guide to Gujarat’s Cultural Capital.

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Shweta

    Awesome aarthy ❤️

    1. Aarthy

      Thanks Shweta! 🙂

  2. Shakeel

    Good one.. Thanks for information..

    1. Aarthy

      Glad you liked it:)

  3. AbhiRam

    Really helpful for my next trip..
    Thanks for sharing ☺️

    1. Aarthy

      I am glad:)

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