A town in Gujarat that also goes by the name Baroda, Vadodara is named after the Banyan trees found in the area. The city is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River, the water stream named after the revered rishi (saint) Vishwamitra.
The city has been ruled by Hindus, Pathans, Mughals and Marathas and today houses a diverse population speaking various languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and English to name a few. It is one of the fastest growing cities of Gujarat and also an institutional hub. Vadodara is said to be the culture capital of Gujarat and specially comes alive during the Navratri celebrations.
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Read on to see our choice of the top 10 tourist attractions in Vadodara city.
1. Sayaji Bagh
Also known as Kamati Bagh, Sayaji Bagh is the largest garden in Western India, built by Maharaja Sayajirao III in 1879. Spread over 45 hectares of land, the garden houses two museums, a zoo, a planetarium, a flower clock, and an operational toy train, among other attractions.
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There is also an astronomy park next to the planetarium that showcases the ancient Indian astronomical instruments. The beautiful garden has three entrance gates and houses around 100 species of flowering plants. The garden is the finest in the whole of India and is visited by thousands of people every day to get a reprieve from urban life and bask in the beauty of flora and fauna.
2. Laxmi Vilas Palace
Spread across an area of about 700 acres, Laxmi Vilas Palace is home to the royal family of Vadodara, the Gaekwads and is about four times the size of Buckingham Palace.. Built according to the Indo-Saracenic tradition the architectural style of this palace is a fusion of Indian, Islamic and European elements.
The interior, with its chandeliers, artworks, water fountains and Belgium stained glass windows, resemble a large European country house. The Durbar Hall of the place often hosts music concerts and cultural events while the museum exhibits a rich collection of artworks that belong to the royal family.
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3. EME Temple
Featuring a remarkably contemporary architecture, EME Temple is a pride of Vadodara tourism. Dedicated to Lord Dakshinamurthy, a form of Shiva as supreme teacher, this temple depicts the army architecture and has been built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps.
The uniqueness of this temple is that it is made of aluminium sheets and it symbolises all religions. The kalash stands for Hinduism, the dome stands for Islam, the tower represents Christianity, the golden structure over the tower stands for Buddhism and the entrance stands for Jainism.
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4. Vadodara Museum & Picture Gallery
Located within Sayaji Bagh is the impressive Vadodara Museum and Picture Gallery, built in 1894 by the Gaekwads. The museum displays an extensive collection of artefacts related to archaeology, geology, natural history, and a variety of personal collections of Maharaja Sayajirao III.
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It also has a huge collection starting from the Mughal Miniatures to the sculptures, textiles and objects from Japan, Tibet, Nepal and Egypt. The major attraction of the museum is an Egyptian mummy and a skeleton of a Blue Whale.
5. Sursagar Lake
Situated in the middle of the city of Vadodara, the Sursagar Lake also known as Chandan Talao is a peaceful place to visit. Rebuilt with stone banks and masonry in the 18th century, this lake remains full of water throughout the year.
One can enjoy boating during the moonlit nights, and enjoy during the relaxed evenings with their loved ones. A 120 ft. tall statue of Lord Shiva in standing posture has been constructed in the middle by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation.
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Champaner is a historical city in the state of Gujarat, located 47 kilometres from the city of Vadodara. It was founded by Vanraj Chavda of the Chavda Dynasty, in the 8th century, and he named it after the name of his friend and general Champa.
Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 it is studded with forts with bastions starting from the hills of Pavagadh, and extending into the city of Champaner. A palace, some mosques and narrow streets which were once live are now an archaeological marvel. There are also Jain and Hindu temples of the bygone era very well preserved even now.
7. Aurobindo Ashram
Founded by the famed Indian freedom fighter, philosopher and yoga guru, Aurobindo Ghose, the Aurobindo Ashram is located at Dandia Bazzar. Being an ideal spot for meditation, and spiritual healing, the Ashram features 23 rooms, a library, a study room, and a sales emporium.
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Relics of Sri Aurobindo, and all the rare books that have been written by or about him can also be found here. It is a community centre where you can meditate, relax and remove the stresses brought upon by modern society through yoga, meditation and many other ways.
8. Chhota Udepur
Chhota Udepur is located on the border of Rajasthan and is one of the princely states of Eastern Gujarat. It is situated at the side of a lake and has many temples within its periphery, which can be distinctly seen from the skyline of the palace.
The Jain temple here has an influence of the Victorian architectural style and palaces like the Kusum Vilas Palace and Prem Bhavan can be visited with prior permission from the royal family. The royal palace is a rich amalgam of culture, heritage and religion.
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9. Kadia Dungar Caves
These caves date back to 1st and 2nd century AD and are near to Bharuch. These are Buddhist caves with monolithic lion pillars and altogether there are seven caves and a brick stupa at the foothills.
The caves showcase the Vihara style of architecture and the brick stupa stands out and is a different attraction in itself. The caves also have a religious vibe which enchants people apart from their mysterious beauty.
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10. Baroda Prints
Baroda Prints is one of Vadodara’s most famous destinations for hand-printed dress materials in original, colourful and attractive designs. Started more than 50 years ago, today it provides a wide range of products such as dress material, sarees and salwar in cotton, butter-silk and satin.
Quality is excellent and it’s one of the most popular fabric shops in the city and in the Salatwada Road branch you can even go upstairs and see the printers at work.
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Vadodara is a town that didn’t submit to the British Raj and today it proudly stands among many other big cities involved in the hustle of development.
Visiting this city means the places mentioned above should be on your list, otherwise you’ll miss out on a great deal of awe-inspiring sights.