Modern Baroda is a great and fitting memorial to its late ruler, Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III (1875-1939 AD). It was the dream of this able administrator to make Baroda an educational, industrial and commercial centre and he ensured that his dream would come true. Baroda is situated on the banks of the river Vishwamitri (whose name is derived from the great saint Rishi Vishwamitra). The city was once called Chandravati, after its ruler Raja Chandan, then Viravati, the abode of the brave, and then Vadpatra because of the abundance of banyan trees on the banks of the Vishwamitri. From Vadpatra it derived its present name Baroda or Vadodara. Baroda has a rich historical background. The ardent historian can trace Baroda’s history over 2000 years and more. However, the recent threads can be picked up when the Moghul rule over the city came to an end in 1732, when Pilaji brought the Maratha activities in Southern Gujarat to a head and captured it. Except for a short break, Baroda continued to be in the hands of the Gaekwads from 1734 to 1949.
Baroda offers various sightseeing options, the sightseeing includes Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery which has impressive collections of art and archeology, natural history, geology and ethnology. Also visit Durbar Hall in Laxmi Vilas Palace, was the court room of the Gaekwads. Also visit EME Temple which is a geodesic structure covered with aluminium sheets. Visit Laxmi Vilas Palace, contains a collection of old armour as well as bronze and marble sculptures. Visit Sayajibag which contains Museum of Health & Hygiene and a picture gallery.
In excursions visit Kayavarohan where you will find a beautiful Shiv Temple built recently houses an attractive idol of Lakulish. Also visit Pavagarh, where you will find Juma Masjid and Shaha-ki-Masjid. Also visit Rajpipla which is famous for many a palaces and a majestic fort. Also visit Shukaltirth, which is famous for its Vishnu Temple.
BARODA MUSEUM AND PICTURE GALLERY
Founded by the Gaekwad in 1894, it has impressive collections of art and archeology, natural history, geology and ethnology. The adjoining art gallery has great collection of European old masters, Veronese, Giordano, Zurbaran, some Flemish and Dutch school paintings, Turner adn Constable, a collection of Mughal miniatures and valuable palm-leaf manuscripts of Buddhist and Jain origin. It has an excellent collection of art objects and paintings, including the famous Akota bronzes dating from 5th Century A.D. Other treasures include a full-fledged gallery of Tibetan Art. Visit Maqbara, which is the oldest Mughal monument in the town.
The Darbar Hall in Laxmi Vilas Palace, was the court room of the Gaekwads. Here musicians performed and entertained the royal family. The beautiful jharokhas, the magnificent chandeliers and the intricate work on the glass windows enhance the beauty of the hall. Even today classical music concerts are held here.
Unique in concept and design, the EME Temple is a geodesic structure covered with aluminium sheets. Run entirely by the army authorities, this temple is a major attraction for both tourist and devotees.
LAXMI VILAS PALACE
It is designed in Indo-Saracenic style and was built by Maharaja Sayajirao III. Started in 1878 and completed in 1890, it is the residence of the royal family. The palace contains a collection of old armour as well as bronze and marble sculptures. Fatehsinh Rao Museum, located on the palace grounds, houses the royal collection of paintings, sculptures and other objects of arts.
Built around 1586, the tomb of Qutbuddin (the army general of the great king Akbar) has beautiful windows carved in stone; there is an old step-well in the large grounds surrounding it. It is one of the oldest Moghul monuments of the city.
Sayaji Baug (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 Sayaji Sarovar or Ajwa lake, 22 kms away from the city is the principal source of water. It is formed by damming the Surya river and Vaghali Nala. 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.
Excursions for Vadodara
Popularly known as Karvan, it is situated on National Highway No. 8. It is both a place of pilgrimage and a picnic spot. A beautiful Shiv Temple built recently houses an attractive idol of Lakulish. Ancient sculptures and relics belonging to the 2nd century have been excavated from this historical place.
A mountainous place with the historical town of Champaner nearby. The town has beautiful mosques Juma Masjid and Shah-ki-Masjid built in early Mohamedan Era. It is 50 kms away from Baroda and accessible by bus and train.
It is the second most important princely capital in Eastern Gujarat after Baroda. Rajpipla has a number of palaces including a majestic city palace now given over to the forest rangers.
Legend surrounds the Vishnu temple here on the banks of the river Narmada. A fair is held every November in this pilgrim center, which is 89 km from Baroda.