Lakshmi Villas Palace, an extravagant building of the Indo-Saracenic school, was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890 at a cost of GBP180,000 was the magnificent residence of the royal family of Baroda. The term Maharaja Palace actually refers to a series of palaces in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, constructed since the Gaekwad, a prominent Maratha family, started ruling the Baroda State. Laxmi Vilas Palace is Baroda’s famous historical monument. Laxmi vilas palace is constructed in Indo-Saracenic architecture style. It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. People visiting Vadodara make it a point to visit Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara.
The first one was a building known as the Sarkar Wada. This building, not really a palace, was given up for the Nazarbaug Palace built in old classical style. The structure was completed in 1890, 12 years later and is named after Sayajirao Gaekwad’s third wife, Rani Laxmibai from Thanjore. The interiors of this palace are reminiscent of a large European country house, and feature modern amenities like elevators. One of the most important aspects of Laxmi Vilas Palace is the magnanimity of the rooms, each room having its significance in the artwork and craftsmanship. Besides the main building, there are plenty of other areas of interest in the complex of this palace. Laxmi Vilas Palace was one of the costliest palaces of its time. It is, today, considered one of the largest private resident homes in India. Maharaja Ranjitsinh, great grandson of Sayajirao Gaekwad continues to live in the Laxmi Vilas Palace until this day along with other members of the royal family.
Description of Palace :
It was built in the Indo-Saracenic tradition, with an eclectic mix of Indian, Islamic, and European elements, as if, as Philip Ward writes, “an architectural Paul Klee had taken solid lines for a walk”. The complex of Laxmi Vilas Palace is spread over an area of 700 acres, where there are various other structures. The palace houses a remarkable collection of old armory and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici. The grounds were landscaped by William Goldring, a specialist from Kew Gardens. It had taken twelve years to build and had cost around £180,000. It was designed by Major Mant, who also designed palaces at Kolhapur and Darbhanga, but completed by Robert Fellowes Chisholm. The palace houses 170 rooms and was built just for two people, the Maharaja and the Maharani. The palace features a grand Durbar Hall that boasts of an Italian mosaic floor. The walls of the Durbar Hall are beautified with brilliant mosaic decorations. The palace ground encloses many other buildings within its premises including a golf course. Another popular highlight of Laxmi Vilas Palace is the zoo. Today nothing remains of the zoo except a pond that is inhabited by a number of crocodiles. If you are lucky enough you might also find peacocks strutting about the palace compound or langoors hanging from the tree branches.
Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum is located at the entry point of the palace from where tourists get their tickets for entering into the palace. The museum, among other displays, showcases original paintings by the royal painter, Raja Ravi Varma. It is remarkable that the museum was constructed for educational purpose, for Maharaja’s children. Large halls, stately dining rooms, apartments for European guests, recreation rooms .. everything was added to this 20th century marvel, and the huge size of the building made sure that all this was incorporated without creating ‘stylistic havoc’. Besides, the 700 acres compound of the palace also houses other buildings such as the Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum.
Maharaja Fatesingh Museum :
The collection of Maharaja Fatesingh Museum Trust is in the school building situated in the Lukshmi Villas Palace compound, formerly known as the Motibaug School built in 1875 for Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad. The museum exhibits a rich collection of art works that belong to the royal family, including paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and others depicting Hindu mythology. In 2000, the Maharaja Fatesingh Museum Trust displayed the Gaekwad collection of the works of Raja Ravi Varma to celebrate its centenary year. Entrance of this beautiful museum is marked by a refurbished train engine of what was once a miniature railway line. Laxmi Vilas Palace is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in India with an architectural structure that was meticulously designed to match the stature of the royal Gaekwad family.
The museum is open from 10:30am – 5:30 pm from Tuesday to Sunday and the entrance fee is Rs. 25/- for Indians and Rs. 100/- for Foreigners. Photography is NOT allowed (strictly Prohibited). The ticket charges include a free audio tour in Hindi or English.
One can visit the Lakshmi Vilas Palace any time of the year. However, the best time to visit the palace and Vadodara is during the winter months from October to February, as the weather is cool and pleasant, unlike the scorching summer heat.
How To Reach :
By Air : Vadodara airport is located at a distance of 6kms from the city centre. which is well connected to other city of India
By Rail : Vadodara, a major railway junction is located on the Western Railway, which connects Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.
By Road : The well-maintained roadways make the Baroda (Vadodara) visit by bus easy. Both government and private bus services operate in this region.
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