Vadodara, also known as Baroda, is the third largest city in the Indian State of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad and Surat. It is the administrative headquarters of Vadodara District. It is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River, southeast of Ahmedabad, 139 km from state capital, Gandhinagar. Both the railway line and national highway connecting Delhi and Mumbai pass through Vadodara. Currently the city is organizing VadFest to position itself as a cultural capital of India, VADFEST is scheduled on Jan 23-26, 2015.
Vadodara has a population of almost 2 million people (as of 2011). Vadodara is in the list of the top ten fastest developing cities of India, It is having great heritage value like the site of the Lakshmi Vilas Palace belonging to the royal Gaekwad dynasty of the Marathas. It is also the home of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara), which is the largest university in Gujarat. It is an important industrial, cultural and educational hub of western India. It houses several institutions of national and regional importance. Major industries include petrochemicals, Engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, Plastics, IT and Forex and many more.
The first noted history of the city was of the early trader settlers who settled in the region in 812 AD. The province was mainly Hindu-dominated with Hindu kings ruling till the year 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 the 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 easily 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. Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1875–1939), the most successful ruler, 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.
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. It was strategically situated at a junction of the main highways linking Gujarat with Rajputana in the north, Malwa and the Ganges valley in the north-east, Maharashtra in the south and south-east. Significantly Vadodara today is a junction on the western railway of the lines leading to Ahmedabad, Delhi & 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.
Vadodara is the cultural capital of Gujarat. All the festivals are celebrated in a unique way here. Vadodara is also known as Sanskari Nagari, i.e. Cultured City. It is the most sought after location for Garba in the entire World. Vadodara is one of India's most cosmopolitan cities. Thanks to the vision and broadmindedness of the Gaekwads, the subsequent industrialisation, the proliferation of academic activities and a strategically important geographical location, Baroda has welcomed a wide variety of people from all over India and also from all over the world. In all of this, the sprawling and cosmopolitan MS University campus and the large number of local, national and foreign industries act as a catalysing and unifying force.
Places of interest
- Palaces: Laxmi Vilas Palace, Nazarbaug Palace, Makarpura Palace, Pratap Vilas Palace (now occupied by Railway Staff College)
- Buildings & Monuments: Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Kirti Mandir, Kirti Stambh, Nyay Mandir, Khanderao Market, Aurobindo Ashram, EME Temple (Dakshinamurty Temple), Hazira Maqbara, Kala Ghoda, Mairal Ganpati Mandir
- Museums & Gardens: Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Baroda Museum & Picture Gallery, Sayaji Baug
- Excursions: Ajwa & Nimeta, Dabhoi, Pavagadh, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Kayavarohan, Dakor, Sankheda