History of Vadodara (Baroda)
Vadodara is the third largest city of Gujarat preceded by Ahmedabad and Surat. It is also called the Cultural Capital of the State of Gujarat and is located on the banks of the Vishwamitri River. It is also known for Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara) which is the largest university in Gujarat. The history of Vadodara suffered a lot of ups and downs during the course of time. Let us have an insight of the history of the city.
Early History of the City :
The first ever recorded history of the city goes back to several centuries when the early trade settlers came to the city in 812 AD. A Hindu-dominated rule started from the Gupta Empire and later on was taken over by the Chaulakya Dynasty. By this time the Muslim rule was all over India and the Chaulakya rule was confiscated by the Delhi Sultanate. The city was ruled by the Sultans for a very long period of time, after which they were taken down by the Mughals. This all is accounted as the early history of the city.
How Vadodara Got its Name:
The city derived its name from a Sanskrit word Vatodar, meaning ‘in the heart of the Banyan or Vata tree. It also has other names, Virakshetra or Virawati (land of warriors). There is not any account of the facts about the change of the names of the city but early English Travelers and Merchants have mentioned the city’s name as ‘Brodera’ from which the name Baroda was derived. Later on, the city’s official name was changed to Vadodara and is still the same.
The Recent History of the City:
The most recent history of the city goes back when the Maratha general Pilaji Gaekwad conquered Songadh from the Mughals in 1726. Shortly after this, the Gaekwad rule was taken over by the Nawabs who were the officers of the Mughal Empire. It is said that the rule again went in the hands of the Gaekwads, and Baroda continued to be in the reign of the Gaekwads from 1734 to 1948. The general Pilaji Gaekwad remained there for carving out a kingdom for himself.
Damajirao the son and successor of Pilaji Gaekwad, defeated the Mughals and conquered Baroda in 1734. His successors strengthened their powers over large tracts of Gujarat. Thus, became the most powerful rulers in the region. However, after the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1805), the East India Company took control of much of Gujarat from the Marathas.
The rule again went from one Gaekwad to the other; the death of Khanderao Gaekwad brought the city in trouble of deciding a successor. However, Khanderao’s brother Malharrao ascended the throne. But he proved to be fatal for the state; he spent money lavishly that emptied the treasury. The state suffered a lot; after his death in 1882 the throne of the empire was vacant and there was no one to take up the throne.
Finally, after a long search by Khanderao widow, Maharani Jamnabai, Gopalrao who was the son of Kashirao was selected as the king of the empire. He was given the name ‘Sayajirao’. The golden period in the Maratha rule of Vadodara started with the accession of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1875. The Maharajah of Baroda became one of the most significant rulers of the state. He founded numerous institutions, including the Bank of Baroda on 20 July 1908. The bank was nationalized on 19 July 1969, by the Government of India and today, it is the third largest bank in India.
After Indian Independence:
Post independence, India initially did not include Baroda and many other princely states; an interim government under Prime Minister Dr. Jivraj Narayan Mehta was inaugurated in the State, on 4 September 1948.
Finally, on 1 May 1949, Baroda (now Vadodara) was formally attained by the Dominion of India. Initially, Baroda was merged with Bombay (now Mumbai) and then, on 1 May 1960, when the two new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed, it became part of Gujarat. Dr. Jivraj Narayan Mehta became the first Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Vadodara is known as the ‘Sanskari Nagari’ the meaning of which is Cultured City. According to the statistics of the Tourism Authority of Gujarat, Vadodara is the most sought after location for ‘Garba’ in the entire world. It is a beautiful city that houses great cultural and heritage sites and one of the most peaceful cities to live in India.