Vadodara also known as Baroda, is the third largest city in Gujarat. Its name Vadodara/Baroda came due to the abundance of Banyan trees, Vadpatra, present in the city. It is situated on the banks of river Vishwamitra.
Since the time of the Mughals Vadodara has been ruled by Gaekwads. Modern Vadodara is a memorial to its late ruler, Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III. As Gujarat lies in the western belt of India the weather is generally hot. So, the best time to visit Vadodara is from September to January.
Vadodara is also known as Sanskari Nagri, the City of Culture, of Gujarat. The people in Vadodara celebrate all the festivals with great zeal. Navratri and Uttaryan(Makar Sankranti) are famous and worth visiting.
Who wouldn’t have heard of the famous Ae Halo….!
But the exclusive garbas are of Fine Arts College where the students and the faculty match steps with the traditional Garba music in the faculty premises. With no loudspeakers and decorative lights, the students dressed in traditional attires dance to the traditional tunes produced by musical instruments like harmonium, dhol, khanjri, and others. The singers and musicians are also former students of the university who plays and sing Garba songs.
Those crowded terraces and chill-outs marking “Ae kaipo Che…”, “Aee lapeeet” mark days of Uttarayan or Makarsankranti on the 14th and 15th of January.
Uttarayan and vasi uttarayan are one of the favorite festivals of Barodians. A special haraji market at Gendi Gate is named to buy kites with negotiation on the prior day of Uttarayan. People enjoy these days with traditional foods like undhiyu – sev – jalebi, teel, and peanut chikki. From young ones to old all are at terrace whole day. The terrace is full of People, Food, Kites & DJs. Evening time the sky becomes beautiful with lighted lanterns. More firecrackers are blown than on Diwali.
Things To Do In Sanskari Nagri
1. Kirti Mandir Rangoli Exhibition If Visiting During Diwali
Kirti Mandir is an exhibition cum center for art performances in Vadodara. There is a bronze sun, moon, and earth on the Shikhar /top of the mandir. Every year during the Diwali festival there is a Rangoli exhibition held here which is worth paying a visit to. All the rangolis in the display emote human emotions and ideas clearly.
2. The Famous Lakshmi Vilas Palace
The Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, was constructed by the Gaekwad, a prominent Maratha family, who ruled Baroda City. Laxmi Vilas Palace was styled in the Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890. It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built to date 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 continues to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda. The Palace compound is over 500 acres and houses a number of buildings, particularly the LVP Banquets & Conventions, Moti Baug Palace, and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
3. Baroda Museum And Picture Gallery
The museum was built in the Year 1894 to resemble the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. The building was designed by Major Charles Mant and R.F. Chisholm. It preserves a rich collection of art, sculpture, ethnography, and ethnology. The picture gallery has diverse works of art from both India and abroad, including works by British painters J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, a gallery of Tibetan art, Akota bronzed dating to the fifth century AD and a collection of Mughal miniature paintings.
4. Sit In The Local Toy Train In Sayaji Garden
The toy train ride runs on a track of width 10 inches (250 mm) covering a distance of 3.5 km giving the entire view of the garden riders. The ride was a gift to the children of Vadodara from the royal Gaekwad dynasty. Now a new train has been introduced instead of this small toy train. Its name is the joy train in which even adults can sit. Joy train is slightly bigger than the toy train. A new platform “Swami Vivekananda Station” is created for this train. The train timings are from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. and it is closed on Thursdays. During the full journey of about 20 minutes, the people are informed about the heritage of Vadodara and that of Kamati Baug(garden) through speakers on the train.
5. Local EME Temple
EME seems to be a strange name for a temple. It stands for Electrical and Mechanical Corps, in honor of the people who built the temple. A symbol of the secularity practiced in the Indian Army, the EME Temple in Vadodara is an aluminum-clad abode. Also known as the Dakshinamurthy temple, it primarily houses a massive idol of Lord Shiva, along with a miniature Lord Ganesha (specially brought in from Mahabalipuram). There is also a silver arch with the holy words “Om Namah Shivaya” engraved on it.
6. Visit The Aurobindo Ashram
Aurobindo Ashram (Arvind Ashram or Auro Nivas) is an ashram located in Dandia Bazar in Vadodara. It was the first ever ashram to become so popular in southern areas of Gujarat.
Relics of Sri Aurobindo are present here. It is open to all for meditation. It houses a library, study room, and sales emporium. Here you can find all books by and on Sri Aurobindo.
7. The Famous Sursagar
Sursagar Lake, formerly known as Chandan Talao, lies in the middle of the city of Vadodara. Rebuilt with stone banks and masonry in the 18th century, this lake remains full of water throughout the year. A concrete wall rings the lake that is often used by people to sit and enjoy the evenings. Vadodara Mahanagar Seva Sadan (VMSS) also constructed a 120 ft tall statue of Lord Shiva (Sarveshwar Mahadev) in standing posture which was installed in the Year 2002, in the middle of this lake. The lake is now being used for boating purposes and looks extremely beautiful, particularly on moonlit nights. The Statue of Sarveshwar Mahadev is decorated with Lights on festivals such as Maha-Shivratri and Ganesh Utsav.
What is life without food? Whenever in Vadodara do try the famous Mahakali Sev Usal, Tasty Vadapav, and a lip-smacking buttery omelet at Raju Omlet.