Laxmi Vilas Palace
Vadodara has is one of the most sought after city in the state of Gujarat. It is among the cleanest cities of India and the 3rd largest city in its state. It is also known as the Cultural Capital of Gujarat. The City was ruled by various rulers and the most celebrated one is Maharaja SayyajiRao Gaekwad III of the Gaekwad Dynasty, who brought major advancements in the city. He also built the world-famous Laxmi Vilas Palace.
In this article we are going to talk about the Laxmi Vilas Palace; about its history, prominent features of the grand palace and its present day scenario.
History Laxmi Vilas Palace
The Laxmi Vilas Palace (also spelled as Lukshmi or Lakshmi Vilas) is also called the ‘Maharaja Palace’. It was constructed by the Maharaja SayyajiRao Gaekwad III of the Gaekwad Dynasty. The Palace was formerly known as the Sarkar Wada. The Laxmi Vilas Palace is an epitome of Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture.
It is the largest abode built till date, as is said to be four times the size of the Buckingham Palace. It remains the residence of the Royal Family since its completion in 1890.
Features of Laxmi Vilas Palace
It had taken twelve years to build the Laxmi Vilas Palace and had cost around £180,000.
It is said to be four times the size of Buckingham Palace.
The Palace spreads over 500 acres and houses a number of buildings, chiefly the LVP Banquets & Conventions, Moti Baug Palace, and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
Adjacent to the Moti Baug Palace and the Museum, is the MotiBagh Cricket Ground, the offices of the Baroda Cricket Association and a very rare indoor teak wood base tennis court and badminton court.
The Darbar Hall of the Laxmi Vilas Palace which becomes the venue for music concerts and other cultural events has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls adorned with beautiful intricate mosaic decorations.
The palace houses a noteworthy collection of old armor or weapon store and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici, a well known versatile Venetian artist.
The palace also boasts a small zoo and the only leftover in the zoo is the pond where a number of crocodiles are there.
The Nav-lakhi Well (meaning “of nine hundred thousand”), a fine ‘Baoli’ or step well, is situated 50 meters north of the palace.
In the 1930s Maharaja Pratap Singh created a golf course for use by his European guests.
Formerly known as the Motibaug School, built for Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1875, now hosts a collection of Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum Trust which is in the school building situated in the Laxmi Vilas Palace compound.
The exterior of the Maharaja’s apartments is dressed up in an attire of the Hindu martial architecture, borrowed from the fort of Bharatpur.
The public apartments are of the Mughal style, while the ladies’ quarters are a fine mix of domes and canopies imitated from the Jain temples of Gujarat.
The basic construction was brick faced with red sandstone from the mines of Agra.
Some blue trap stone from Puna and marble from the mines of Rajasthan were also taken in for the construction.
Workmen were taken from Madras who came to apply the ‘Chunam’ plaster the walls of the interior of the Palace.
‘Carrara’ marble was imported for the doorways of the hall, the pillars, and the ornamental staircase.
Present Day Laxmi Vilas Palace
Today a large number of works of art belonging to the Royal family have been displayed in the museum. The most noteworthy of these is the fabulous collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Verma. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Varma was famous. The Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum has recently inaugurated on May 8th, 2015 a headgear gallery where vibrant headgears from Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra collected by Maharaja Ranjitsinh Gaekwad are displayed. This makes the Museum one of the very few Museums in the country to have a gallery dedicated to headgears.
The Palace and the Museum are open for the tourists. Visitor timings are from 10 am until 5 pm. The palace is open on all days except Mondays & public holidays. Photography is NOT permitted. The ticket charges include a free audio tour in Hindi or English.
The timings and the charges are mentioned below:
Museum timings– 10:30 am to 05:30 pm
Palace timings– 10:00am to 05:00pm
Palace Ticket: Rs. 225/- for Indians, Rs. 400/- for Foreigners
Museum Tickets: Rs. 80/- for Indians, Rs.150/- for Foreigners
With its eclectic Indian exterior and lush European interior, it will serve as a characteristic monument to the memory of Sayajirao Gaekwad III. The Palace remains the best sight for the tourists visiting Gujarat, attracting flocks every year.
It is indeed a beautiful abode that gives you the feeling of the majestic and princely rule with a remembrance of the lavish life of the King Sayajirao Gaekwad III. An Architectural Marvel that is not just known in India but also across the globe!!