Vadodara is one of the most important cities of Gujarat State. Vadodara is well known for its culture and study. Vadodara State in old times was one of the most powerful and the richest States of India. The Gaikwad family was ruling the Vadodara State prior to independence of India. Sir Sayajirao was the most popular king in the Gaikwad family among all the kings as he had a great foresight and took lot of interest in development of Vadodara and the results are before our eyes even after 150 years of his rule. The people of Vadodara still remember those good old days. One of the effective ways to remember the good old days is to visit the Laxmivilas Palace in Vadodara, which was and is still a residence of the royal family of Gaikwads of Vadodara. The Laxmivilas palace is worth seeing even today to freshen up the memories of that golden period.
The Laxmivilas Palace is located in the center of the city. The palace is visible from a long distance as there are no other such tall and impressive buildings in Vadodara. The palace is situated in 7 square miles area. The palace is open for the visitors from Monday to Friday between 3pm to 5pm. You need to buy an entrée ticket of Rs.20 (50cents) for the same. Very limited portion of the palace is shown to the public, as the royal family still stays in this palace only. However, this limited portion of the palace also is really wonderful. The main gate of the palace is 85 feet high, 40 feet wide, and is having an artistic structure with circular top kamans. The walkway to the palace is full of artistic sculptures and water fountains of old times. There is a very large garden full of beautiful flowers and trees all along the same. You have to walk for about 10 minutes to enter the actual palace building. Your security check is done at the entrance and then, your tour of the palace starts.
The first hall that is shown is main Darbar Hall. This was the place where king was holding his Darbar with the public leaders and his ministers. The common people were also allowed to attend such Darbar on some special occasions like king’s birthday or diwali day. The golden seat with the solid gold top is still kept in the hall for the viewing of the visitors. It has been said that 235 Kg of solid gold was used in making this royal seat. The hall is so big that it can accommodate 1500 people at a time. There are chairs for the ministers and other important persons also. The entire hall has been covered with the best quality Kashmiri carpet having design of the war taking place between two armies. The next place shown is the conference hall of the king.
There are about 24 chairs arranged artistically around the circular table. This was the room where the king of Vadodara had the meeting with Sardar Patel, Home minister of independent India in connection with the alliance of old Baroda State in India. The royal dining room is shown next. The dining room consists of the most artistic rectangular table of elephant teeth (Hathi Dant) having a flowers design. This table is big enough to accommodate 64 guests at a time for the auspicious lunch or dinner. The bedroom used by Sir Sayajirao is shown next. The simple design and simple furniture in this room tells us lot about the simplicity of Sir Sayajirao. The weapons and the dresses actually used by the kings of Baroda are also stored in one room. The history of Baroda State starting from early nineteenth century with full size photographs of all the kings are also kept in one room. Most of the kings of Baroda were fond of hunting, so, one room is full of the dead bodies of many wild animals like lions, tigers, crocodiles, and wild bears etc. These are stuffed and preserved so nicely that they look real even today.
There is a big lake and the picture gallery behind the palace. The picture gallery is full of pictures of great Nandlal Bose and other foreign artists. The condition of the large garden of the palace is not maintained that good now but can still tell us enough about the glorious past of the Baroda State. The king of Baroda was considered second in terms of power and money during British times, The Nizam of Hyderabad being the first.
I am sure that most of the people staying at Vadodara for years may not have seen the glimpses of this royal palace. I would urge all my AC friends to see this palace if they have an opportunity to visit Vadodara during their visit to India.