Monday, April 10, 2017

An Afternoon in Vadodara (aka Baroda)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

On our way between Bhavnagar and Dahej, we’re spending the night in Baroda. (The official name is Vadodara, but almost everyone still uses the British name, Baroda.) Baroda has a fair amount of industry, but it is widely known as Gujarat's university town. (Ahmedabad might take issue with that!)

Our first stop was the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum. It is on the palace grounds, which are extensive and include a golf course, sporting clubs, gardens, and more. The museum is mostly art (originals and copies) collected by the Maharaja in Europe, but the most interesting items in the museum are paintings by the Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma which illustrate Hindu mythological stories in the style of European Renaissance masters. No photography is allowed.

We then visited the massive Laxmi Villas Palace. Completed in 1890, the palace was designed by the British architect Major Charles Mant in the popular Indo-Saracenic style that mixes European, Islamic, Hindu, and Jain styles. Again, no indoor photos are allowed.

Part of the front facade of the palace. It’s too large to get in a single picture, and my attempts at stitching together panoramas gave unsatisfactory results. It is still used as a residence by the royal family, but parts of the ground floor are open for visitors.
The left side is the Maharaja’s apartments. This side has more of the Islamic and European influence. The ground floor is a magnificent Durbar Hall for formal gatherings. The Hall has stunning stained glass windows that look like they belong in a European cathedral, except the subjects are all from Hindu mythology.
The backside of the Durbar Hall.
The right side of the palace is the Maharani’s apartments, and has classic Hindu and Jain architectural elements.
A closer look at the windows in the center section of the palace.
While definitely the ultimate in luxury, this palace had a very welcoming feel -- elegant, sophisticated, and warm.

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