Believed to be over 2,000 years old, Vadodara, is a popular city in Gujarat, which is situated along the banks of Vishwamitri River. The fact that it was ruled by Hindus, Pathans, Mughals and Marathas over different spans of time has left some beautiful examples of architectural marvels in the city. So, the next time when you’re in this ‘cultural capital of Gujarat’, make it a point to drop by these 10 places to visit in Vadodara.
1. Laxmi Vilas Palace
A majestic structure, which served as the private residence of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, this palace is believed to be four times the size of U.K.’s Buckingham Palace. Verdant gardens, a 10-hole golf course, a zoo (which was operational in earlier times) and a small pond – this palace houses quite a few spectacles. Dating back to 1890, itflaunts Indo-Saracenic architectural style and houses Moti Baug Palace and Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum.
2. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Reckoned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this incredible archaeological park is one of the most frequented places in Gujarat. Full of fine architectural specimens, it is a hybrid of Hindu and Islamic styles of design. An intriguing piece of trivia about PavagadhHill is that it is said to have been transported by Hanuman (the devout follower of Lord Rama) to Lanka, as per Ramayana.
3. Surya Mandir
As per the popular folk perception, a trip to this revered temple is said to bestow divine blessings upon the visitors and to diminish all their ailments. Legend has it that this temple was constructed at the instance of Sun God himself.This is why it is one of the top 10 places to visit in Vadodara.
4. Khanderao Market
An extravagant place built in 1906under the supervision of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III; this is a popular hub in the city for all the shopaholics who want to get a taste of the city. It was a mark of the completion of Silver Jubilee of his domineering administration. It is one of the oldest and most visited markets of the state. It is an interesting fusion of cultures having imprints of the Maratha and Jain architecture complemented by European and Islamic craftsmanship.
5. Aurobindo Ashram
Also called Arvind Ashram or Auro Nivas, Aurobindo Ashram, once served as the dwelling place of Aurobindo Ghosh (the great scholar, national leader and philosopher) between 1894 -1906. It features a library, a study room and a sales emporium. It is a remnant of the country’s past as it was visited by many well-known freedom fighters back then.
6. Sursagar Lake
Encapsulated by wilderness, this lake is an epitome of a place with an exemplary architecture, which is complemented by mesmerizing beauty. It houses an impressive 120-foot statue of Lord Shiva. It is also known as Chandan Talao. Locals and tourists can be seen boating in this lake. It is said that it goes back to the 18th century.
7. Hazira Maqbara
One of the top 10 places to visit in Vadodara is the famous Hazira Maqbara. It is home to the tomb of Qutubuddin Muhammad Khan- the tutor of Emperor Akbar’s son, Salim. It is a quintessential example of the Mughal architectural style – a fact which is reflected in its exhibitionistic arches and octagonal platforms. This tomb also has been engraved with a few Quranic teachings in Arabic.
8. Sayaji Bagh
Built by Sayajirao III in 1879, this huge green park sprawls a little over hundred acres. It houses a planetarium (named after the legendary Indian freedom fighter, Sardar Patel) and a mini rail track with a toy train offering joy ride to the kids visiting this park. Overlooking River Vishwamitri, this park also encompasses the Baroda Museum and Art Gallery, which was established by the Gaekwads.
9. Kuber Bhandari Temple
Situated at a whopping height of more than 800 feet from the Narmada coast, this 2500 year old temple is one of the most holy sites in the city. It is flocked by devotees on Somvati Amavasya to worship Kuber Bhandari, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. According to popular folk beliefs, when Lord Shiva visited this place with his consulate, Goddess Parvati, he faced a scarcity of food and water. He decided to resolve this menace by being always present here in the form of food and water.
10. Hathni Mata Waterfalls
Situated roughly 78 km away from Vadodara, these falls cascade from a height of 100-metre from a cliff. What allures visitors to this site is this region’s pristine beauty. There’s also a cave temple dedicated to Hathni Mata in the vicinity of these falls.