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Vadodara, previously known as Baroda, is one of the popular cities in the state of Gujarat. If you are a history aficionado and enthusiastic about regal heritage, history of the bygone era, royal structures, artefacts, and famous paintings, then a trip to the Laxmi Vilas Palace is one which will treat your senses to the History of the Grand Era of Royal Gaekwads.

The son of Maharaja Ranjitsinh Gaekwad, Samarjitsinh Gaekwad became the successor and is the present Head of the Mansion and of the Gaekwad dynasty. He is an Indian cricket administrator and former first-class cricketer. He married Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad in 2002, and the couple has two daughters.

Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, was constructed by the Gaekwads, a prominent Maratha family who ruled the Vadodara State. Major Charles Mant was credited to be the main architect of the palace. The outstanding Mansion is situated in the heart of Vadodara.

A portion of the palace is open to the public with a fee ticket, the charges of which include an audio headphone guide. To get the historic feel and knowledge about the story of the palace, the audio guidance via the headphone set is handed over before venturing in the mansion. Switch on the headphones and you will be humbly greeted with the beats of traditional Gujarati music in the background, just as the narrator takes you through brief introduction and information about the palace.

 

Overview of the Palace

Laxmi Vilas Palace is a magnificently tall structure commissioned by Maharaj Sayajirao Gaikwad III and built-in 1890.

Currently, Maharaja Samarjitsinh Gaekwad is the King of this magnanimous palace who became the successor after was crowned in 2012 following the demise of his father, Maharaja Ranjitsinh Gaekwad.

It is now the residential place for the family and comprises 170 rooms. The intricate architecture and each detail of the structure with its beauty was sculpted by Robert Fellows Chisholm and took twelve years to complete. Spread over a sprawling 700acres, this palace is said to be four times the size of Buckingham Palace in London. This makes it one of largest palaces ever built, housing a large number of buildings like the Moti Baug Palace, Makarpura Palace, Pratap Vilas Palace and Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.

 

The palace contains an impressive collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, marble and terracotta by Fellici. While strolling around the different chambers, you will notice the delicate carvings on the walls.

The architecture of the palace is a mixture of Hindu, Mughal and Gothic forms with elaborate usage of domes, minarets and arches. The palace is built with a mixture of a number of local and international resources. The material required to build the palace were brought in from different parts of the country– red sandstone shipped from Agra, marbles from Rajasthan and Blue trap stone sourced from Pune, all of which were used in its construction. The interiors of the Palace can be compared to a large European country house. 

Interiors of the 🏰

The giant mansion is divided into ten segments that open into beautiful courtyards consisting of the Coronation Room, Gaddi Hall and the Royal Armoury. The first floor is only open to visitors while the second floor and beyond is reserved and secured for the family.

The Gaddi Hall is the embarkment of the throne of kings of Gaiekwad lineage. The Coronation Hall is a huge large room which has a great significance since Maharaja Pratapsinh, Maharaja Fatehsingh and Maharaja Ranjitsinh have all been crowned here.

Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum has an overwhelming collection of visual arts and paintings of famous artists like Raja Ravi Varma, Raphael, Titian and Murillo. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings depicting Gods of Hindu mythology like Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Lakshmi, and Lord Krishna which brings sanctity and elegance to the chamber.

 

Close to the Gaddi Hall is the Royal Armoury that houses various types of weapons like swords, knives, shields, pistols, rifles, etc. The famous Shivaji Maharaja’s favourite weapons like the Khanjar and the Wagh Nakka are also placed and treasured in the palace.

Pic: Darbar Hall

Connected to the Hathi Hall is the huge and opulent Darbar Hall that is the venue for music performances and other cultural events and also boasts of a Venetian mosaic floor. Light beautifully streams into this grand Darbar Hall through the four large uniquely stained glass panels depicting stories from Indian mythology. The intricately carved sandalwood jharokhas or balconies were made to provide privacy to the royal ladies in the past. The mosaic flooring was made by many Italian artists from Murano and took a total of six months to finish giving it a sparkling, mirror-like finish. 

The mansion has many stained glasses which were mostly bought from Belgium. Outside the Darbar is a courtyard of water fountains and beautiful landscapes. The palace compound includes the stunning Navlakhi stepwell, and a small zoo that used to be the resting ground for crocodiles.

Outskirts of 🏰

Activities related to cricket take place at the Moti Bagh Cricket Ground that is just adjacent to Moti Baug Palace. Other facilities within the property include a golf course, swimming pool, clubhouse, gym and the current office of Baroda Cricket Association. 

Some portions of the palace are also rented out for public functions and marriage events.

It’s a Wrap

The acres of land and the charisma of the castle leave us spellbound. The real beauty of the palace lies in watching it from a distance as you can appreciate all of its history and opulence carved into one single massive magnificent structure. The grandeur and charm of Laxmi Vilas Palace are still intact and time has only added to its grandeur. Today, it is a prime attraction in Baroda that leaves tourists awestruck and spellbound with its beauty and also rewinds history of the olden royal era.

**Images used in the article are all clicked by Dr. Nikita Pawar
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About the author

Dr.Nikita Pawar is a General Practitioner by profession and has completed her (MBBS PGDCR). She has previously worked in GMC Hospital Dubai & is currently attached to a hospital, corporate company and Clinics in Mumbai. She is passionate about medical article writing and always strives to maintain commitment towards achieving professional growth as she transitions from one phase of her career to the next.

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Comments

  • Ajit singh Bhoite November 11, 2020 at 4:38 pm
    2+

    Great research work done by Dr Nikita
    With admirable beautiful photography.
    Thanks Dr Nikita for your contribution towards Maratha samrajya awareness.
    🙏

    Reply
  • Dr.K.K.Thassu November 12, 2020 at 9:57 am
    1+

    Beautiful and detailed write-up.Excellent.

    Reply
  • Naresh Mintri November 12, 2020 at 9:57 am
    1+

    Royalty during those times did spend money on lavish living and in the process left structures and mementos for posterity to wonder about. The Gaikwad’s are one such. A very nice, well researched article.

    Reply
  • Ashok Malla November 12, 2020 at 12:36 pm
    1+

    Very interesting — elaborately described. . . . .very nice reading.

    Reply
  • Dr. K. S. Gadkari November 12, 2020 at 12:50 pm
    2+

    Very informative and well narrated.

    Reply
  • radhikaraje gaekwad November 12, 2020 at 6:17 pm
    1+

    Thank you Dr Nikita for this lovwly piece on our home and the lovely pictures.

    Reply

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